REVIEW: Chef’s Shoppe – Bacon Cheddar Popcorn

Rating: ©©©©-1/4 chips  (lip-smacking)

Chef's Shoppe - Bacon CheddarBacon and Cheddar.  Quite possibly as classic of culinary combination as peanut butter and jelly.  And certainly just as delicious.

We’ve tried A LOT of bacon cheddar flavored snacks over the years.  But, looking back we were very surprised to find that we didn’t love very many of them.

The same cannot be said for Chef’s Shoppe’s Bacon Cheddar Popcorn – this stuff is lip-smacking!  Then again, should we have even doubted this popcorn?  You may remember Chef’s Shoppe from such amazing “A” list hits as Sriracha-Cheese and Spicy Beer Cheese – both easily make our Top Popcorn list of all-time.  In other words, Chef’s Shoppe makes such delicious popcorn that they can even take a flavor combination that we apparently do not like in snack form very much, and turn it into a real lip-smacking winner!

First of all, this popcorn has real bacon bits in it!  No, we’re not talking about “real” bacon like Bacos, we’re talking about broken up pieces of deliciously fatty bacon!  And, the result is of course…..loads of real bacon flavor!  Crispy, porky, salty, slightly smoky, delicious bacon!

Secondly, our taste buds are shockingly impressed by just how super salty this stuff is!  Seriously, we had to apply Chapstick at least three times just while taste testing the popcorn!  A liberal yellow cheddar cheese dusting provided a delicious level of creaminess, a dash of tang, and of course that healthy dosage, or two, or three, of SALT!!

So, there you have it.  If you are like us and love bacon & cheddar pretty much anything than you will be happy to know that this popcorn is the real tasty deal!

As always, these are our thoughts. Agree or disagree, make sure to let us know.

Popcorn provided to Chip Review by J & V for review

Chef’s Shoppe Official Website

Chip Ratings Scale:

(1/4 increments)

© return to sender

©© tolerable

©©© – notable

©©©© – lip-smacking

©©©©©“A” list

BIJOU-REVIEW: Van Holten’s – Bacon Cheddar Popcorn

Rating: ©©©-3/4 chips  (notable)

Van Holten's - Bacon Cheddar PopcornWhat do you get when a company that apparently specializes in, or focuses on, pickles decides to try their hand at some bacon cheddar flavored popcorn?  Well, some surprisingly decent tasting popcorn!  Especially when compared to either of the last two bacon cheddar flavored popcorn varieties that we reviewed – Old Dutch – Cheddar Bacon Popcorn and Trader Joe’s – Baconesque White Cheddar Popcorn.

Van Holten’s popcorn encompassed what can only be described as a surprisingly “real” bacon essence.  More than just a singular smokey layer, the seasoning delivered a rich, fatty, almost meaty pork presence.

Plenty of creamy cheddar cheese powder amply covered VH’s full, fluffy popcorn kernels.  We wish that the cheese carried more of a cheddar funk flavor, and was saltier, but we had to settle with smooth and creamy.

Lastly, can we just point out how happy Mr. Bacon Man is holding that large, white, fluffy popcorn kernel.  He wouldn’t be so happy if he knew what we would do with him if we met him!!  Mmmmmm bacon!!

Popcorn discovered at Thornton’s Gas; Westmont, Illinois

Van Holten’s Official Website

Chip Ratings Scale:

(1/4 increments)

© – return to sender

©© – tolerable

©©© – notable

©©©© – lip-smacking

©©©©© – “A” list

BIJOU-REVIEW: Old Dutch Arriba – Cheddar Bacon Cheese Stix

Rating: ©©©-3/4 chips  (notable)

Old Dutch Arriba - Cheddar Bacon Cheese StixOh no!! Not another bacon cheese flavored snack from Old Dutch….

Luckily our fear was unwarranted, and these Arriba Cheddar Bacon Cheese Stix aren’t half bad!

Question: why exactly did Old Dutch feel it necessary to call these cheese stix instead of the more commonly used cheese puff, or curl, classification?  Do cheese stix sound tastier?  We’re sure that they wanted to differentiate their product from the rest of the bunch, but come’on, when you are clearly making a product that is already so widely recognized as another established product, why not just call them by that name?!  Next thing we know they will be giving us ‘sliced fry potatoes’.

The back of the bag says Intense Flavor + Amazing Crunch.  Well, we can get behind the amazing crunch portion of that statement, but we would actually say the exact opposite as for their flavor.

Arriba’s cheese puffs (excuse us – STIX), are a touch crunchier than the usual cheese puff.  Despite their solid initial bite, the stix do still melt in your mouth (a necessity for any good cheese puff) if you let them hang out and absorb your tongue’s moisture.

If subtlety is a synonym for intense, then yes these bacon cheddar stix are indeed intense.  They delivered just a kiss of smoke to represent the bacon, which we enjoyed. A good level of tangy and salty cheddar cheese rounds out the combination.  And, that’s it. Simple, precise and notably delicious.  Much, much better than Old Dutch’s popcorn of the same flavor!

As always we would love to hear what you think.  Let us know.

Discovered at Kwik Stop Gas Station; Plymouth, Minnesota

Old Dutch Official Website

Chip Ratings Scale:

(1/4 increments)

© return to sender

©© tolerable

©©© – notable

©©©© – lip-smacking

©©©©©“A” list

REVIEW: Old Dutch – Cheddar Bacon Popcorn

Rating: ©-1/2 chips (return to sender)

Old Dutch - Cheddar Bacon PopcornIt seems like every time we travel home to Minnesota we come across at least one or two, maybe three, new chips, popcorn, or salty snack that have snuck onto the scene since our last visit.  Well, this time we can say that the magic snack discovery number is more like TEN than one or two, and well, let’s just hope that this Old Dutch Cheddar Bacon Popcorn is not a reflection, or more so, any indication of the quality of all of the other snacks to come!!  Because if it is, then we’re going to want to rush back to Chicago lickety-chip!!

It wasn’t all that long ago that we reviewed Trader Joe’s Baconesque White Cheddar Popcorn, and while we weren’t necessarily the biggest fans of that popcorn either, it was still leagues ahead of this Old Dutch stuff!  Plain and simple, we did not enjoy any single part of Old Dutch’s Cheddar Bacon Popcorn (other than maybe the coloring and design of the bag – the diamond shaped grating in the background was a nice touch).  But really, none of that matters because snacks have to taste good above all else!

First, the bacon aspect was not reminiscent of bacon but rather of standing in front of a camp fire.  Smoke, and smoke alone, does not make popcorn taste like bacon.  It makes it taste like fake smoke flavored popcorn.  Second, the cheddar cheese tasted nothing of cheese, but rather only salt; and not very much of it for that matter.  Third, the popcorn had no crisp, and no crunch.  It was toothsome, but in a sort of soggy, gotta chew my way through this stale stuff to force it down!  Three strikes and you are out!!

Now, we understand that there is always that chance that we tasted a sample of this particular popcorn that was not an accurate representation of the true quality of the product.  Well, to that we say, TOO BAD!  Sometimes that’s just how the kernel pops!  Often times there just isn’t enough time, or enough room in the stomach to give something a second chance, and first impressions can also be last impressions!  Which is what this will be (unless someone happens to buy us a bag, or sets a bag out at a party we are at).

Until next time, these are our thoughts, we would love to hear what you think. Agree or disagree, let us know.

Popcorn discovered at Kwik Trip; Plymouth, Minnesota

Old Dutch Official Website

Chip Ratings Scale:

(1/4 increments)

© – return to sender

©© – tolerable

©©© – notable

©©©© – lip-smacking

©©©©© – “A” list

REVIEW: Doritos JACKED 3D – Bacon Cheddar Ranch

Rating: ©©©-1/4 chips  (notable)

Doritos Jacked 3D - Bacon Cheddar RanchDear Doritos,

We know that we have been consistently complaining about your JACKED line of chips for…well…since their beginning.  But, the fact of the matter is that when we look back through our reviews of your JACKED chips we actually find an awful lot of good, and even great, chips distributed throughout the JACKED roster!  Which is why we offer you the following confession:

We here at Chip Review have told ourselves that we are not the hugest fans of the JACKED line from Doritos.  However, despite the fact that we may not agree with the decision to change Doritos’ classic, light and crispy, tortilla chip to a BIGGER & THICKER version, we do recognize the reasoning behind it.  We simply feel like the chips are too big, and their texture is so thick that they no longer encompass the same light and crispy Doritos we have all loved for so many years.  That being said, the JACKED chip texture is slowly growing on us (especially the new 3D version), and when combined with your delicious BOLDER seasoning, the results more often than not we must admit, are some pretty great tasting chips!

How many of you out there remember Doritos original 3D chips??  If you do not, then you are younger than us, and you make us feel old!  Stop that right now!!  3Ds were a great snack from the 90’s, that most of us here at Chip Review enjoyed many a time.  The originals were light as air, soft crisp, with a very thin shell, and hollow in the middle.  The 3Ds were much too easy to pop one by one, over and over, until the bottom of that bag appeared.  They were unlike any other chip available on the market, and it appears as though Doritos is going for the gold medal in chip creativity once again!

Just look at that glowing Triforce shaped medallion chip above!  Have you ever seen, or eaten, anything quite like that before?!  Well, we have not, and we’re guessing that you have not either.  We have heard the 3Ds described as an Illuminati Symbol, or Egyptian Hieroglyphic, or our personal favorite, as ancient currency, used to buy things from a Mayan vending machine…  Plain and simple, these are some uniquely weird shaped chips no matter how you describe them!  Doritos you have wowed us again!

While technically speaking every Dorito that we have ever tasted has been of the three dimensional shape, these 3Ds do provide even more dimensional depth than any other Doritos, JACKED or otherwise, chips that came before!  For a second here let’s focus on what the heck these structures are…  This is 2015, and apparently, no longer will a thin-shelled, puffed, three dimensional Dorito from the past do the necessary snack trick.  Instead, Doritos top engineers have obliterated whatever drawing board they may have ever used, and veered towards ingenious structural JACKED creativity!!  These chips are cool!  These chips are originals!!  These chips are, not really even chips any longer!!!  The 3Ds are much more like Fritos corn chips in both flavor (corn-ful), and texture (dense crunch).  Albeit, corn chips that have been stacked and fused together to form a crunchy corn triangular pendant.  Do we love the shape?  Not really, but our mouths apparently do!  Because no matter how hard we tried, we could not stop ourselves from devouring them, one after one, until there were no more!

As for the scrumptuously sounding Bacon Cheddar Ranch seasoning… Well, these were not a hit.  A let down in fact.  We were certainly not as impressed with the BCRs as we were with the first JACKED 3D flavor – Jalapeño Pepper Jack.  Plain and simple, this is just a super mild Doritos flavor.  And mild and Doritos are two words that just don’t work together.    A little salty cheddar sprinkling here, a touch of fake smoke bacon there, and an unrecognizable (Cool) ranch do not work well together; especially when paired with the hearty, corn-ful 3D chips!  We wanted or expected more.  NO! We needed more!

Well, there you have it.  Anyone else out there tried them yet?  Thoughts?  As always we would love to hear what you think.  Agree or disagree.  Let us know.

Chips discovered at Walmart; Countryside, Illinois

Doritos Official Website

Chip Ratings Scale:

(1/4 increments)

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©© tolerable

©©© – notable

©©©© – lip-smacking

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REVIEW: Trader Joe’s – Baconesque White Cheddar Popcorn

Rating: ©©©-1/4 chips (notable)

Trader Joe's - Baconesque White Cheddar PopcornThere once was a tall, slender, well dressed feller, who sported one heck of a mustache.  One day the dapper chap made the decision to stand upon a large forma of cheese (cheddar we presume), in hopes that he may find something porky!  Low and behold, along came a gal in elegant attire exclaiming the delicious virtues of some new flavored popped corn.  “I can’t believe it’s not bacon” she proclaimed.

Well, sorry to say, but we believe, in fact we are more than certain that it is not bacon!

Baconesque sounds right.

Bacon-ish, yeah.

Bacon-y, OK.

Oh wait, the bottom of the classy popcorn bag really says it all “…and a bacon like seasoning!”  In fact, bacon like. is probably stretching the truth a bit.  Just like we have never ever believed that the too yellow, too soft, fake stuff is anything like real butter, Trader Joe’s Baconesque White Cheddar Popcorn is also nothing like real bacon flavor!

All that being said, it is not as though we don’t like Trader Joe’s new popcorn, because we do.  It just does not taste like bacon to us.  What it does taste like is smoked white cheddar cheese seasoning.  Have you ever tasted smoked cheddar or mozzarella cheese?  One of our chip reviewers simply loves a good smoked cheese melted on top of flame grilled burgers!  However, simply adding smoke flavoring into a salty cheese seasoning does not equal bacon.  The overly salty, overly smokey seasoning  is entirely devoid of any of bacon’s delicious natural porky sweetness.  We need something else.  At least one other distinct flavor characteristic of bacon.  Without any of these distinct elements, or layers of flavor, we are simply left with white cheddar cheese and smoke flavor = smoked cheddar seasoning.  The smokey cheddar flavor does pair well with the popcorn.  A rich and salty white cheddar cheese flavor evenly coated most of the larger sized, white popcorn kernels.  Many of our tasters actually enjoyed the popcorn, crunching handful after handful, but everyone agreed that it did not taste like bacon.

Trader Joe’s, we certainly do recognize and appreciate the recent effort you have put into creating new and unique corn based snacks.  Everyone knows how much we love spotting, tasting and reviewing new snacks!  While we haven’t been the hugest fans of either of the two most recent popcorn flavors – these bacon white cheddar, or the Chicago Style Mix.  We did very much enjoy both of the other corn-popcorn based snacks.  The Kettle Popped Sweet & Salty Whole Grain Popcorn Chips with Chia Seeds, Flax Seeds, Whole Quinoa & Sunflower Seeds encompassed a unique grainy texture, combined with the classic sweet and salty combo; while TJ’s Partially Popped Popcorn was a creative new spin on Corn Nuts, with delicious butter flavoring!

So, in the end, we liked the Baconesque popcorn well enough, we just didn’t really didn’t feel like it tasted like bacon.  However, Russ over at What’s Good at Trader Joe’s has a much more favorable review, if you care to read another review.

Until next time, these are our thoughts, we would love to hear what you think. Agree or disagree, let us know.

Popcorn discovered at Trader Joe’s; La Grange, Illinois

Trader Joe’s Official Website

Chip Ratings Scale:

(1/4 increments)

© – return to sender

©© – tolerable

©©© – notable

©©©© – lip-smacking

©©©©© – “A” list