REVIEW: Rusty’s Chips Surf City Strips – Hand Made Corn Chips

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

Rusty's Chips - Surf City Strips Corn ChipsNot too very long ago we were fortunate enough to taste Rusty’s Original Island Potato Chips for the very first memorable time.  Before we had even finished our first handful of the fantastically fried thick potato slices we new without a doubt that we had just relished IOHP the best potato chips ever!  Period!!  Game over!!!  With that being said, we were both excited, and a little apprehensive to try Rusty’s version of America’s other favorite style of chip – corn tortilla.  On the one hand, we had plenty of faith in Rusty’s chip making abilities (for proof of that see our review of his potato chips), but on the other hand, corn tortilla chips are an entirely different beast than potato chips (and by beast, we of course mean starchy vegetable!), and anything is possible in the world of chips!

Once again we would like to begin with Rusty’s chip story:

Once upon a time, 1980, Rusty, while dreaming of far away places, came up with a plan to make Maui Potato Chips on the mainland. Six months later, Rusty was manufacturing Rusty’s Island Chips in his own little kitchen in Costa Mesa, Ca. His Maui recipe chips were selling like hot cakes in every gourmet market in Southern California. By 1990, Rusty’s Chips were in every major market as well. He was shipping chips to the east coast by the truck load and even to Hawaii.

Rusty’s little Maui chip company grew and grew. It got so big so fast that the stress was getting to Rusty, and he wasn’t surfing anymore. He did not have time to be on his sail boat. He wasn’t happy. So he let a big company swallow up his little company. Well the 1990’s came, and a lot of things did not survive the times and one was Rusty’s Maui Chips. The recipe was changed, the little kitchen turned into a factory, and the love for the best chips ever faded away…

Well, Rusty’s Back!!  He has his own chip kitchen in Huntington Beach and things could not be better….!!!

What do you do when you are not satisfied with your local tortilla chip selection?  Well, in the case of Rusty,  you simply use your magic chip creating abilities to come up with something that you do love!  Luckily for all of us, these chips just so happen to be something that we (and we’re guessing you) would love too!

Similar to his potato chips, Rusty’s chip strips are thick cut, we’re talking unusually thick cut, with a really hearty crunch.  These chips crunch even harder than his potato chips, and that’s saying something.  The shape of these chip strips are a bit unique, and it took us a couple of handfuls before we realized what exactly Rusty’s reasoning, or technique, behind this design really was.  After we noticed that a couple of the strips were sort of in the shape of a half moon (as opposed to all of the chips being uniform 3 inch by 1 inch strips) that it finally dawned on us that Rusty was simply using round corn tortillas, and cutting them into strips; resulting in some strips that were longer than others, and some strips that had one rounded edge and one straight flat edge!  Not that this technique really added very much to the chip eating experience, but we did sort of personally appreciate the chip variation as we worked our way through the bag.

Rusty’s corn masa flavor is pretty darn tasty, with an undeniable underlying level of sweetness.  The sweet note adds a layer of depth that really complimented the corn flavor.   The chips also had just the right level of salt.  All in all, simply very good tasting tortilla chips!  Were they as good as Rusty’s Potato Chips?  No, but for plain, salted, tortilla chips, they were a lip-smacking addition to the genre that we would be more than happy to crunch again!

Rusty’s Island Chips provided to Chip Review for review

Rusty’s Official Website

Chip Ratings Scale:

(1/4 increments)

© return to sender

©© tolerable

©©© – notable

©©©© – lip-smacking

©©©©©“A” list

REVIEW: Rusty’s Island Chips – Potato Chips

Rating: ©©©©© chips  (“A” list)

Rusty's - Island ChipsIt’s true.  We can’t deny it.  Here at Chip Review we do not review very many “plain” or “original” or “regular” or whatever you wish to call them – good old potato chips.  It’s a fact, check the stats.  We do not have a definitive answer as to why this is, but in the back of our minds we sort of feel like most “regular” potato chips are too much the same to warrant writing a review about them.  That, and would there even be enough to write about?  Plus, our palettes usually prefer the punch and flavor difference that seasoning or flavoring adds.  But… BUT!!  Every once in a while we cross paths with some chips that astound us, amaze us, and force us to re-evalute our closed-minded, flavor wanting, chip way of thinking.  Today, those chips are Rusty’s Island Chips!!

Let’s begin with Rusty’s chip story:

Once upon a time, 1980, Rusty, while dreaming of far away places, came up with a plan to make Maui Potato Chips on the mainland. Six months later, Rusty was manufacturing Rusty’s Island Chips in his own little kitchen in Costa Mesa, Ca. His Maui recipe chips were selling like hot cakes in every gourmet market in Southern California. By 1990, Rusty’s Chips were in every major market as well. He was shipping chips to the east coast by the truck load and even to Hawaii.

Rusty’s little Maui chip company grew and grew. It got so big so fast that the stress was getting to Rusty, and he wasn’t surfing anymore. He did not have time to be on his sail boat. He wasn’t happy. So he let a big company swallow up his little company. Well the 1990’s came, and a lot of things did not survive the times and one was Rusty’s Maui Chips. The recipe was changed, the little kitchen turned into a factory, and the love for the best chips ever faded away…

Well, Rusty’s Back!!  He has his own chip kitchen in Huntington Beach and things could not be better….!!!

There are a few rules that any “regular” potato chip should follow if it wishes to be great.  First, it better come from some superb potatoes, because with regular potato chips we all know that you won’t get any help from salt if you are hoping to cover up the quality of the potatoes you are using.  Two, the CUT is key.  Just like with a great steak, people have different preferences as to what constitutes the best cut, and there are obviously many varieties.  Should we go thin, or should we go thick, or should we add a wavy ripple, or a criss-cross waffle cut??  What ever style of cut those great potato chips choose, they must fully commit to it, and try to make it the best variation of that variety!  Third, salt type, and level.  Very, very important when talking about regular potato chips.  Why?  Well, other than the frying oil used to crisp those potato slices up, salt is the only ingredient really triggering those taste buds to wake up and take notice!  The salt should compliment the chips, without overwhelming them.  All of these facets must come together in perfect salty, crunchy and potato-y chip harmony, if that little old “regular” potato chip wishes to grab our attention away from all of those flamin’ hot and spicy cheese dusting seasoned chips out there!  At this point it is probably needless to say but Rusty’s Island Chips have done just that!!  Perfect potato chip harmony!

Rusty’s Island Chips are really, really fantastic potato chips!  The chips are definitely thicker cut, although it seems like they may vary in thickness a little bit from chip to chip, leading us to believe (and we may have actually read this somewhere) that they could possibly be hand sliced.  If that is the case, that is some real dedication and attention to detail.  Both of which we recognize and appreciate!  The thicker cut potato chips deliver a deliciously hearty and firm crunch.  Nearly on the verge of tooth shattering, but not quite that crispy.  Probably most notable are the chips pure potato flavor.  Golden harvest yellow in color, reminiscent of the radiant California sun they are made in. The chips potato flavor is sort of tough to describe.  The chips deliver a deep and rich starchy potato flavor, with a touch of that nutty, rustic, burnt potato flavor that we really love on the tail end.  We wonder what type of potatoes Rusty is using here?  Usually, when we taste that dark-nutty-burnt notes, they are coming from Russet potatoes, but the coloring on these just do not coincide, so we’re guessing they are not Russets.  Some may consider these chips a touch too greasy, but we think that they are just right.  Salt coverage was a tad inconsistent, but the majority of the chips were more than amply covered.  Plus, whatever type of salt Rusty is using is fantastic!  It appears that it is a French Mediterranean Sea Salt.  Ooh la la!  We love and can really taste that slight mineral tang that the sea salt adds.

In the end, what we are trying to say is that these potato chips really just taste like some great fried potatoes.  And we love, love, love fried potatoes of all varietals!  Needless to say, these chips were very easy to devour (too easy, in fact…must find more)!!  We could not stop eating them!  We would not stop eating them!!  At this point we think that it is fair to say that these are among the best regular potato chips anywhere.  In fact, let’s not beat around the bush here, we’re going to go ahead and say it – Rusty’s Island Chips are so fantastic that they not only made our Top 5 Regular Potato Chips list, but it they’re sitting atop it!!  That’s right numero uno!!  Our #1 Regular Potato Chip of all-time!!  Now we only wish Rusty’s chips were more readily available in our neck of the Midwest (of course there’s always the internet).

We will sign off with what Rusty always says “Life is good….eat more chips!!!”  Well Rusty, that won’t be very hard when they are this good!!

So, what are your favorite plain or regular potato chips of all-time?  Make sure to tell us at our Potato Chip poll.

Rusty’s Island Chips provided to Chip Review for review

Rusty’s Official Website

Chip Ratings Scale:

(1/4 increments)

© return to sender

©© tolerable

©©© – notable

©©©© – lip-smacking

©©©©©“A” list

Top 5 – Plain, Salted, Traditional (you know) Regular Potato Chips

Chip Review’s Top 5 Plain/Salted/Traditional/Regular Potato Chips:

Plain-Salt- Potato_Top5

Chip Review’s Top 5 Plain/Salted/Traditional/Regular Potato Chips:

1. Rusty’s Island Chips

2. Old Dutch – Rip-L

tie 3. Better Made – Rainbow Old Fashioned Dark

tie 3. Herr’s Kettle Cooked – Dark Russet Potato Chips

4. The Original Saratoga Chips

5. Kettle Brand – Sea Salt

runner-up: Terra – Yukon Gold Potato Chips

Make sure to tell us your favorite Regular Potato Chips!!