REVIEW: Dale Jr Foods – Hot and Spicy Fries

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

Dale Jr - Hot & Spicy FriesRecords indicate that it has been a few years since we tried anything new from Nascar racing superstar Mr. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (and yes, that’s right, Dale does chips!); but leave it to a small town Minnesota gas station to surprise us with these ‘new’ (to us at least) Hot and Spicy Fries!  And to that, all we really have to say is ‘Chip lovers start your fry chompin’ engines!!’

We wouldn’t say that we have tried a lot of different crunchy fry snacks over the years, but for the most part we have never really been huge fans of any that we have tasted (until now!).  Honestly, crispy potato fry snacks just seem like they are trying to be, and inevitably wishing that they were, classic corn puffs.  But, what we have discovered is that “puffed” potato fries just don’t have the same crispy, yet delicate, and most importantly melt-able, mouth texture that everyone’s favorite cheese puffs do.  The fries are certainly crispy, crunchy in fact, but the potato just doesn’t evoke that same silky, smooth mouth feel, and certainly do not melt down into a rich pool of fat upon the tongue.

As we indicated above, these Hot and Spicy Fries from Dale Jr. Foods are surprisingly delicious!  Coated with a bright red dusting, and apparently a seasoning combination that includes cheese, of course the usual suspects of garlic and onion, plus a real dash of both jalapeño and habanero chili peppers.  Despite the chili peppers addition, we wouldn’t say that these are really hot and spicy.  The peppers do eventually make their presence felt after a few handfuls but won’t be sending anyone to the fridge for the milk.  More impressive than the heat was simply the overall flavor spectrum of this seasoning.  The flavor combination really came together as a whole and complimented the crispy fries to the best of its ability.

So, if you, like us, have never really considered yourself a fan of potato fry snacks, we suggest you give these a try and see if Dale can change your mind just like he changed ours!

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

Fries discovered at Holiday Gas Station; Bemidji, Minnesota

Dale Jr Foods Official Website

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BIJOU-REVIEW: Engine Co. 51 – Hot Curls

Rating: ©©© chips  (notable)

Engine Co 51 - Hot CurlsWe are always excited to see any new addition to the spicy-flamin’-hot curls family!  And, we were especially looking forward to crunching Engine Co. 51’s variation after loving their Hot Popcorn , and after reading Taquitos’ glowing review.

Unfortunately, neither of those precursors ended up being a good indication of the quality of these Hot Curls!  We simply did not love them.

Appearance wise, Engine Co. 51’s curls looked just like any other spicy curl.

The curls’ mouth texture was dense, with an almost stale chew to them.  We would have liked a lot fresher crispy crunch.

As for the bright red seasoning that liberally coated each curl, well, it brought none of the usual tangy, mouth burning heat that we’ve come to love.  And we would have hoped that if the “hot” curls weren’t bringing the spicy pain they would have at least been flavorful but they also weren’t even that cheesy.  Just a couple of notes of garlic and salt.

Not Engine Co. 51’s best showing!

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

Chips provided to Chip Review by KLN  for review

KLN Family Brands Official Website

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REVIEW: Larry The Cable Guy – Bacon Ranch Tater Chips

Rating: ©©©-3/4 chips  (notable)

Larry the Cable Guy - Bacon RanchAccording to the big red circle Larry’s new Bacon Ranch flavored Tater Chips were “Picked by YOU, the Facebook FANS!”.  Now, we didn’t see the flavor list that Larry’s fans were choosing from (or maybe it was submissions…), either way – Bacon Ranch seems a little on the safe, or predictable side, or maybe mainstream.  Personally we actually liked Larry’s other new 2015 Summer flavor more than Bacon Ranch –  Hollar-Peño Popper!

Correct us if we are wrong but does Mr. Cable Guy release two new Tater Chip flavors every summer?!  He’s a hard flavor tater working man!  Let’s go back through his flavor progression over the past four years.  Season 1 (initial release – four flavors): Cheese Burger, Barbeque Rib, Fried Dill Pickle and Buffalo Wing.  A great introductory line-up, showing us all that Larry meant business with his bar food themed flavors!  Season 2: Pass the Darn Ketchup and Tater Salad.  You had us as potato salad flavored chips!!  Season 3: Chili Cheese Fries and Biscuits & Gravy!  That’s right, lip-smackingly game changing biscuits & gravy flavored potato chips!!  This season: Hollar-Peño Popper and Bacon Ranch.  And, like we’ve already said above, we are on team Hollar-Peño!  We see a theme here, and it appears to be that each summer we love one flavor, and we could leave the other.  But, if that’s what it takes to find one really great flavor each summer, we’ll take it no problem!

Quick question before we delve into what we thought about these chips.  Why is it that every chip brand seems to have blue-ish-green and red specs in their ranch seasoning blend?!  Seriously, we have no idea!  Low and behold, guess what we found scattered all over Larry’s Bacon Ranch Tater Chips?  That’s right, blue-ish-green and red flecks of flavor.  As for the taste of this colorful seasoning – some of our tasters thought these chips were pretty lackluster,  describing them using such words as adequate and uninspired, (one taster used that worst two letter word in the English language O.K.!!).  While other tasters thought the Tater Chips were actually above-average in taste, but slipping on flavor accuracy.  The bacon aspect was pretty much just a splash of smoke, no real fatty-porky essence or depth.  Subtle would be a good description of it.  And the ranch flavor half brought plenty of garlic to the party, but seemed to have forgotten to pick up its buddies creamy and tangy along the way!  We really appreciated how savory the flavor combo was, but in the end, just too timid of execution.  We expected a more commanding combination!  And what we got was Larry’s Garlic Smoke Tater Chips!!

As for Larry’s potato chips, they are on the thinner side, and many of the chips still have their skins on them.  Really, they are just good old, “real” potato chips with a crispy-soft crunch.  The chips provide the prerequisite delicious potato flavor, and a perfect delivery device for all of Larry’s unique seasonings.  We will see you next summer Larry!

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

Chips provided to Chip Review by KLN  for review

KLN Family Brands Official Website

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REVIEW: Engine Co. 51 – Hot Ripple Potato Chips

Rating: ©©©-1/2 chips  (notable)

Engine Co. 51 - Hot RippleWeeeeuuuuu!!  Weeeeuuuuu!! (firetruck sirens….right?….no?….how would you spell them?!?).  Either way, somebody better call the fire station because it is getting HOT IN HERE!!!

From the back of the bag:

Get ready to feel the heat of Engine Co. 51.  While others fight to extinguish the blaze, we crank it up a notch.  Packed with the same intensity as those who rush into burning buildings, our Hot Ripple Chips are sure to spark a fire with smoke eater everywhere.

We have tasted, rated, and reviewd many, many, many different hot, or spicy, or what ever flamin’ adjective you want to use, chips over the years.  Some of them have been really good (such as Old Dutch and Archer Farms), and many of them, not so much!  Engine Co. 51’s fall somewhere right in the middle.  We love it when the brand takes the generic flavor name route (sarcastic font used), and provides us with no REAL description as to what their “hot” flavor will actually taste like!

That being said, Engine Co. 51’s Hot Ripple Chips do not take us anywhere we haven’t already been many times before, and they are exactly what they say they are – Hot Ripple – nothing more, nothing less.

Here is what you can expect from a generically named “hot” potato chip.  First of all – bright red.  There can obviously be plenty of variation between bright reds, but the hot chips should be dusted with a good layer of red seasoning powder.  Ingredients – heavy on the paprika, both for color and for that distinct smoky layer, reminiscent of BBQ flavored chips.  Of course any seasoned potato chip would not be complete without its most favorite seasoning friends – onion and garlic – need we say more (in other words, if you have never paid attention to the ingredients of your favorite flavored chips, take a look when you have a minute, and we are 99% sure that you will spot good old onion and garlic smack dab in the middle of that list.  Lastly, and most certainly not least, the chips must have some form of heat to them.  This comes in many different variations, but in our opinion – the more, the better.  For goodness sake, you’re naming your chips HOT, make us believe it!!

Luckily for us, Engine Co. 51 brings the heat!  The hot & spicy seasoning blend didn’t seem very hot or spicy at first taste, but……. after a couple of handfuls of the crunchy chips that HOT appeared with a pow!  A rather intense heat that grew and lingered with time.  The more chips we ate, the spicier our mouths got.  Eventually to a level where we actually felt a bit uncomfortable!  Somebody call a different fire department!  Bravo Engine Co. 51, Bravo!!

As for the potato chips themselves, they were pretty standard issue thinner-ripple potato chips, with a softer crunch, and a slightly greasy appearance and finish.  A perfectly adequate vehicle for delivering salty HOT seasoning to our mouths.

Well, that’s about it, we would just like to take a second to say welcome to the chip game Engine Co. 51!  Not a bad first chip to review.  We look forward to trying a few of your other spicy delights!

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

Chips provided to Chip Review by KLN  for review

KLN Family Brands Official Website

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REVIEW: Larry The Cable Guy – Hollar-Peño Popper Potato Chips

Rating: ©©©©-1/2 chips  (lip-smacking)

Larry the Cable Guy - Hollar-Peno PopperLarry The Cable Guy is back again with two all new 2015 summer flavors for us to devour and review.  Back again?….Larry The Cable Guy does chips??  If you must ponder that to yourself then you are unaware of Larry’s Tater Chips, and frankly, you have been cutting yourself short!!

As the story goes, a few years ago Mr. Cable Guy wowed our group with his initial snack release of four different bar food themed Tater Chips, with flavors such as cheese burger and fried dill pickle.  The following summer Larry switched gears and gave us two new flavors that we described as summer, outdoor-sy, picnic-barbeque “dishes”.  Last year Larry knocked our socks off with some Biscuits & Gravy flavored Tater Chips; plus some other flavor we can’t recall at this time!!

Larry The Cable Guy must know potato chips.  We like to believe that he personally taste tested each and every batch of his Tater Chip flavor recipes until he came up with final recipes that he could be proud of, to bear his name.  This summer everyone’s favorite cartoon tow truck is back again, and first up on our tasting docket are his Hollar-Peño Popper Potato Chips.

Let us just start everything out by saying that these are most definitely not just another jalapeño flavored chip.  Initial tasting thoughts, these are lip-smackingly fantastic, and amazingly do taste an awful lot like jalapeño poppers!!  Upon tossing a chip into our mouth, our tongues were welcomed with a lovely embrace from a sort of fatty coating layer that set the mood, flavor, and pace for the rest of the tater tasting experience!  Next up, the unmistakeably fragrant and vegetable jalapeño chile flavor arrived with a boom-pow!  The heat seemed subtle at first, but the longer we let it settle in, the hotter it became.  Certainly not among the spiciest chips out there, but we could see these being too spicy for some people.  On the tail end of the flavor arrived that subtle, creamy, coolness meant to represent the jalapeño popper’s cream cheese filling.  And you know what?  It really did!!  The touch of buttermilk among the ingredients really drove the flavor execution home.

As for Larry’s potato chips, they are on the thinner side, and many of the chips still have their skins on them.  Really, they are just good old, “real” potato chips with a crispy-soft crunch.  The chips provide the prerequisite delicious potato flavor, and a perfect delivery device for all of Larry’s unique seasonings.

Overall, these Tater Chips were extremely well balanced!  Plenty of jalapeño heat, a dollop of creamy cheese, and a splash of salt.  These chips are 100% savory, and definitely up there among our top 2 or 3 Larry Tater Chips ever!!  This Cable Guy really seems to know how to get’r done! when it comes to chips!

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

Chips provided to Chip Review by KLN  for review

KLN Family Brands Official Website

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REVIEW: Larry The Cable Guy – Chili Cheese Fries Tater Chips

Rating: ©©©© chips  (lip-smacking)

Larry The Cable Guy - Chili Cheese FriesAlright, let’s Git-r-done!  Mr. Cable Guy’s initial Tater Chip release a couple of years ago seemed to encompass a bar food theme to them, with flavors such as cheese burger, fried dill pickle and buffalo wings.  With last summer’s release of two new additional flavors, Larry appeared to be targeting an outdoors-y, picnic-barbeque theme?!  We were hoping that we would also be seeing some hot dog, bratwurst, or maybe even sweet corn flavored chips to further accentuate the summer picnic theme.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

For the Summer of 2014 everyone’s favorite cartoon tow truck released two more new flavors.  What kind of theme do we have this time?  Well, although it was a bit more difficult to really nail these two down into a single classification, we’ve decided to go with the “…..don’t want to get out of my jammies, just want ultra comfort food”.  And, those two flavors are Biscuits & Gravy and Chili Cheese Fries.  What do you think, does the theme fit?

First and foremost, Larry’s tater chips themselves are as consistently delicious as ever.  The fried potato slices are on the thinner side, and many of them still have their rustic skins on them.  Just, good old, “real” potato chips with a crispy, softer crunch.  The chips provide the perfect amount of potato flavor.

Again, just like with his Biscuits & Gravy Tater Chips, Larry’s flavor seasoning is SPOT ON!!  These chips really do taste like chili and cheese, and well, we’ll equate the fried potato chips to the fries aspect of the equation.  Layers of flavor that meld very well together, delivering a slightly rich and comforting, sloppy, meaty-ness-mess. Lots of chili powder, adding a bit heat, but really just more smoky and savory notes.  A good dusting of salty, and slightly tangy, cheddar cheese delivers the perfect counterbalance to the chili.  Throw in some of the usual flavor suspects like onion and garlic, and there you have it, Chili Cheese Fries in Tater Chip form!!

All in all, another creative and very well executed snack from the man in the plaid!

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

Chips provided to Chip Review by Barrel O’ Fun Snacks for review

Barrel O’ Fun Official Website

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REVIEW: Larry The Cable Guy – Biscuits & Gravy Potato Chips

Rating: ©©©©-1/2 chips  (lip-smacking)

Larry the Cable Guy - Bicuits & GravyLarry The Cable Guy is once again back with two more new summer flavors for us to enjoy.  Mr. Cable Guy’s initial Tater Chip release a couple of years ago seemed to encompass a bar food theme to them, with flavors such as cheese burger and fried dill pickle.  With last summer’s release of two additional flavors, Larry appeared to be targeting an outdoors-y, picnic-barbeque theme?!  We were hoping that we would also be seeing some hot dog, or possibly bratwurst, or maybe even sweet corn flavored chips also released to further accentuate the theme.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

Summer of 2014, and once again two new flavors from everyone’s favorite cartoon tow truck.  What’s the theme this time you ask?  Well, although it was a bit more difficult to nail down, we’ve decided to go with “ultra comfort food”, and feel like that description accurately encompasses both flavors.  Those two flavors are Biscuits & Gravy and Chili Cheese Fries.  Does the theme fit?

Although we more often than not try to taste the flavor that we are least interested in first (which would have been the chili cheese fries), we simply could not help ourselves with these ones.  We couldn’t believe our eyes.  Bisuits & Gravy!  Really?!  How is it possible that this has not been attempted before?  The combination seems like a no-brainer to work with potato chips, but can it be executed correctly?

Let’s just say…WOW!  Really wow!  These potato chips, believe it or not, taste just like biscuits & gravy.  Rich, smooth, creamy, salt and pepper spotted, buttermilk gravy flavor.  As for biscuits?  Who knows.  Maybe the buttermilk flavor helps portray that aspect of the combo a little bit, but really all we can pinpoint for sure is that these potato chips taste like delicious gravy!  And may we just say, the black pepper kick continues to creep up the backs of our throat and build upon itself a bit, delivering a little kick.

As for Larry’s potato chips, they are on the thinner side, and many of the chips still have their skins on them.  Really they are just good old, “real” potato chips with a crispy, yet soft crunch.  The chips provide a delicious potato flavor, and a perfect delivery device for the biscuits and gravy seasoning.

All in all, another creative and very well executed snack from the guy who really seems to know how to ‘get’r done!

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

Chips provided to Chip Review by Barrel O’ Fun Snacks for review

Barrel O’ Fun Official Website

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