25 Chips to Christmas….

#10

Trader Joe’s – Ghost Pepper Lattice Cut Kettle Cooked Potato Chips


Trader Joe's - Ghost Pepper Lattice Cut Potato Chips

Original Review Here

Trader Joe’s Ghost Pepper Potato Chips are delicious!  Sweet, salty and sour, with layers of flavor depth that perplexed and pleased our taste buds.  That being said, our favorite Ghost Pepper flavored chips of all time actually taste like, well, Ghost Pepper.  Which for some reason that we cannot fathom, these chips do not!  Still, they are delicious and among this year’s best!!

Chip Review’s Honorable Mentions – 2015

25 Chips to Christmas – 11 Honorable Mentions

591-Christmas-gift-tree-vector

These chips nearly made our Top 25 of the Year, and deserve some recognition too!! (in alphabetical order)

Beanfields - Nacho
“These are really good!  Not – really good for a bean and rice chip – sorta good.  NO!  Really good for any type of nacho cheese flavored chip!”

“The onion presence is sweet and pungent, without being too pronounced.  The cool, sour cream is really enhanced with a good touch of tangy cheese.  All of the flavors work harmoniously, and surprisingly enough, do not overwhelm Cobs delicious popcorn one little bit.”

D'vour - Coconut Sea Salt

D’vour Tortilla Chips made with Real Coconut – Sea Salt

“And some of us at Chip Review were even excited to try the chips with nachos; melting a whole bunch of cheese all over them and seeing how the sweet, salty and cheesy combo works out.”

Herr's - Peppered Bacon

Herr’s – Peppered Bacon Potato Chips

“Seems like no matter how many times we try another poorly executed bacon flavored snack, we still get excited for the next one!!”

International Popcorn - Everything BagelInternational Popcorn - Cheddar Ranch

International Popcorn – Everything Bagel Popcorn

“Has popcorn replaced chips as the international favorite salty snack?!?  Well, we’re not sure if popcorn is as popular around the rest of the world but right now, here in the U.S.A. popcorn is booming!!”
Popsalot - Honolulu Aloha

Popsalot – Honolulu Aloha

“The few moments when we actually landed a mix of both the caramel corn and the macadamia nuts were, lights-out fantastic.  Those precious, porcelain, roasted half nuggets of unctuously rich macadamia nuts were amazing! WOW!”

Pringles - Wasabi & Soy SaucePringles - Salted Caramel

Pringles – Exclusive Flavor Wasabi & Soy Sauce

Pringles Limited Time Only! – Salted Caramel

“Turns out that it has been nearly 3 months since we reviewed any new Pringles!  THREE MONTHS!  While three months may not seem like that long of time to many of you, let us just tell you that in Pringles’ months we’re talking about a very long time between new reviews!!”

Snacks 101 - Less Mess White Cheddar Popcorn

Snacks 101 – The First Baked Popcorn – Less Mess White Cheddar

“Apparently, Snacks 101 has created “The First Baked Popcorn”….  Are they messing with us?  Can this be right?  Well, we can’t find any evidence to dispute them so let’s roll with it.”

Trader Joe's - Partially Popped Popcorn ...with Butter & Sea Salt!

Trader Joe’s – Partially Popped Popcorn …with Butter & Sea Salt!

“Trader Joe’s Triple P embodies a real strong corn essence, and flavor.  They do in fact look like those partially popped kernels you find at the bottom of the popcorn bag or bowl, except that they don’t break your teeth when you chomp down on them.”

Ziggys - Kickin Buffalo Wing

Ziggy’s Kettle Corn – Kickin’ Buffalo Wing with Himalayan Pink Salt

“Great combination of tangy, sweet, salty, zippy, spicy, zingy, sour-y, and did we mention spicy-spicy-spicy?!?  Seriously, lots of heat – WHOA!!”

** And here are 5 additional dishonorable mentions that we hope to never mention again… **

(in alphabetical order)

Old Dutch - Cheddar Bacon Popcorn

Old Dutch – Cheddar Bacon Popcorn

“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.”

Old Dutch Ripples Appetizers - Chicken Artichoke Flatbread

Old Dutch Ripples Appetizers On The Go – Chicken Artichoke Flatbread

“But, as for the taste – uhhhh…. we do not taste any chicken, artichoke or flatbread (not that we were expecting to actually taste the flatbread).”

Pop! - White Truffle Bliss

Pop! Gourmet Popcorn – Extravagant White Truffle Bliss Popcorn

“But, maybe it’s difficult to capture and accurately deliver the deliciously aromatic flavors of truffle onto popcorn?  Nope, we’ve tasted and reviewed a handful of truffle flavored snacks (predominantly popcorn), and most of them have actually been lip-smacking!”

Snyder's of Hanover - Raspberry Creme Sweet Pretzel Sandwiches

Snyder’s of Hanover – Raspberry Creme Sweet Pretzel Sandwiches

“Plain and simple these pretzel sandwiches are a sweet dessert treat that should not be included anywhere among salty snack section for any rhyme or reason.  These belong on the shelf next to cookies!”

Trader Joe's - Popcorn in a Pickle

Trader Joe’s – Popcorn in a Pickle

“Popcorn in a Pickle is not only not better than Trader Joe’s Baconesque, but it makes Joe’s cheddar bacon popcorn seem lip-smacking in comparison.”

**Chip Review’s Top 25 list of the Year consists of chips that we tasted and reviewed during the 2015 calendar year for the first time.  The chips are not necessarily new to the industry, but they were new to Chip Review in 2015!

REVIEW: Trader Joe’s – Ghost Pepper Lattice Cut Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

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

Trader Joe's - Ghost Pepper Lattice Cut Potato ChipsHi, we’re Chip Review and we love spicy chips.  

They say that the first step is to admit it.  Obviously, the next logical step would be to go out and find some new spicy chips to satisfy our addiction!

Oh…well…hello there.  Don’t think that we have seen you around these parts before?  Are you new here?  You must be new, because we’re certain that we would have noticed you before now. What’s that?  You think that you’re not our kind of chip.  Well, you are lattice cut, but we won’t let that dissuade us from taking you home!

That’s right readers, scary new Ghost Pepper flavored Lattice Cut Potato Chips from Trader Joe’s, hitting the shelves just in time for everyone’s favorite spooky holiday!!  Like we mentioned above, we enjoy our spicy chips here at Chip Review.  We especially love our hot chili pepper flavored chips, and frankly we have tried quite a few of them over the years.  Just for reference sake, we have tasted over 100 different jalapeño flavored snacks, and about 30 different habanero flavored, but to date, we have only tried 2 other ghost pepper flavored snacks prior to these new ones from Trader Joe’s.  Plus, the ghost pepper chili would be the hottest of chili peppers that we have ever seen in chip form, but having now been surpassed in scoville ratings by both the Trinidad Scorpion, and the current hottest chili in the world, the Carolina Reaper, we expect to see chips displaying those flavor names sometime very soon (or, at least we can hope)!

First, the good.  In fact, the very, very good.  These chips are delicious!  Really super fantastic seasoning combination!!  Seriously, it is tough to accurately describe what is going on here with this flavor, we were not prepared for these to be this complex….  Touch of sweet, good dash of salt, lots of vegetal and fruity chili pepper notes, and we love-love-loved the splash of tangy vinegar and citric acid.  Of course there is some onion and garlic are in there (mandatory in every seasoning it seems), but also a touch of smoke, providing a touch of BBQ-ness!  These chips have depth, they have layers, and plain and simple they work, very well.

BUT – you knew there was a but – what about the ghost pepper heat?!?! First of all, yes, we checked the back of the bag and sure enough ghost pepper is right there near the top of the ingredients list, and yet these chips DO NOT BRING THE PAIN!!! That’s right, we said it, there is a touch of heat that alludes to the threat of tongue burning heat but never really gets anywhere near it.  In fact, the heat doesn’t even really build after many repeat visits to the delicious chip bag!  That is not to say that there is no heat whatsoever because there is a bit of tongue tickle, just nothing to the extent that we would have expected from the ghost pepper!

Our other little gripe has to do with the chips themselves, and quite frankly it is more of a personal preference than anything else.  We here at Chip Review respect the lattice / waffle cut potato chip, but we don’t love them.  We more than understand that the double sliced, criss-cross technique creates more fry-able potato chip surface area, resulting in an extremely super-crunchy potato chip, but our mouths, teeth, and taste buds would prefer a slightly less crunchy chip, with more potato flavor.

Despite our qualms with these chips, and we consider the lack of heat a fairly big one, these are some fantastic chips!  Bravo Trader Joe’s, bravo!!  Anyone out there know who is making these chips for Trader Joe’s?  Or, is it possible that they have their own amazing chip factory cranking these delicious potato chips themselves??

These are our thoughts, agree or disagree, make sure to let us know!

Chips discovered at Trader Joes; La Grange, Illinois

Trader Joe’s Official Website

Chip Ratings Scale:

(1/4 increments)

© return to sender

©© tolerable

©©© – notable

©©©© – lip-smacking

©©©©©“A” list

REVIEW: Trader Joe’s – Popcorn in a Pickle

Rating: ©-3/4 chips  (return to sender)

Trader Joe's - Popcorn in a PickleWhoa! Now that is an eye-catching bag for sure!!  Green to the maximus!  Clever word play too, but then again, isn’t Trader Joe’s always witty and playful with their product names?  Might we have another hit on our hands from that Joe we know who likes to trade (that’s our meager attempt at word play)?

Have we discovered the new sriracha of the popcorn world?  We were surprised to find that we have actually tried four different dill pickle flavored popcorn bags in about the last year.  Unfortunately, none of them have been really good.  Well there is always hope that this new popcorn from Trader Joe’s isn’t all visual show and wit, and actually tastes good, and certrainly better than their last new popcorn – Baconesque White Cheddar Popcorn!

SADLY….as you may have noticed from our rating above already, Popcorn in a Pickle is not only not better than Trader Joe’s Baconesque, but it makes Joe’s cheddar bacon popcorn seem lip-smacking in comparison.

We feel that there are two major issues with this popcorn.  First, would be the usage of dill oil as opposed to the real herb.  The flavor just seems off, and even sort of off-putting.  You get some of the fragrant dill notes but it’s like all of the fresh and bright herbal life that you would typically get from the fresh stuff has been completely sucked dry from the dill oil.  Our second, and certainly bigger issue, lies with the popcorn itself.  According to Trader Joe’s website, their supplier uses the largest mushroom popcorn kernels they can find, and they air pop them (apparently mushroom popcorn kernels are large, round balls of popcorn, with lost of surface area).  In our opinion these air-popped mushroom kernels are the probably the worst popcorn texture that we have ever tasted.  No real popcorn flavor what so ever.  Sure, they were light and crispy, and sure they were largest popcorn we have ever seen, but they were also SOOOOOO full of pesky, gum catching, kernels that we could barely pay attention to what we were tasting!!  Add to this the fact that this popcorn was air popped, and no additional amount of mouth pleasing fat was added to supplement and enrich the dry popcorn, in the end left us wanting so much more.

Sorry Junk Food Guy, but we have to disagree with you on this one!  For another, far different review of the Popcorn in a Pickle, make sure to check out his review too!

As always, 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

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

REVIEW: Trader Joe’s – Partially Popped Popcorn …with Butter & Sea Salt!

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

Trader Joe's - Partially Popped Popcorn ...with Butter & Sea Salt!We’re guessing that many of you out there are familiar with the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, otherwise known by its bleach-blonde, spiky haired host Guy Fieri as ‘Triple D!”  Well, we are sort of the host of this little Chip Review “show”, and we have decided to coin this latest Partially Popped Popcorn snack from Trader Joe’s as ‘Triple P!!’  Ingenious, right?!  Well, at least easier to say three times fast, and for us to type out for the remainder of this review.

From Trader Joe’s website:

It’s popcorn, for sure, but popcorn that’s not fully popped. Our supplier uses a proprietary method in which they first steam a special hybrid of so-called “mushroom” kernels (instead of the fluffier, “butterfly” variety enjoyed in theaters), before heating them in canola oil to a state of half popp-ed-ness.

The finished corn resembles those (accidentally) par-popped kernels found in the bottom of your popcorn bowl. But, unlike those kernels—which can be real jawbreakers—this Partially Popped snack has a blissful bite that exists somewhere between the extreme crunch of corn nuts and the tender chewiness of fresh, fully- popped corn.

Correct us if we are wrong but that process sounds awfully similar to the process used by everyone’s favorite crunchy, corn, gas station snack – Corn Nuts.  According to legend, “Corn nuts are prepared by soaking whole corn kernels in water for three days, then deep-frying them in oil until they are hard and brittle. The kernels are soaked because they shrink during the harvesting and cleaning process, and rehydration returns them to their original size.” (Wikipedia.com)

Well, there’s probably more of a difference in the process than we are alluding to, and we’re guessing that Trader Joe’s and Corn Nuts each use a different style of corn, but the similarities between the two products must be noted.  In fact, we would throw a third corn snack into the mix, to complete the triple popped theme of this review!  Pop’d Kerns are a crunchy corn hybrid snack that we have enjoyed, and reviewed, a few times on this site.  Their popped kerns are closer to a fluffy, fully-popped kernel of popcorn, than either Triple P or Corn nuts.  All three products are lip-smackingly delicious and crunchy in their own way.  In fact, one day we may have a popped corn party, invite all three of these guys, and a whole bunch of popcorn, and just let the good times roll!

Trader Joe’s Triple P embodies a real strong corn essence, and flavor.  They do in fact look like those partially popped kernels you find at the bottom of the popcorn bag or bowl, except that they don’t break your teeth when you chomp down on them.  They do have a very solid crunch, but not one that will send you running to the dentist.  Probably our favorite part of the snack is the dried, real butter powder that is amply coating each of the Triple P’s.  The powder really tastes like butter.  Not like fake, bright yellowish-orange, butter powder on microwave popcorn, but real melted butter.  We love it!

So, if you like Corn Nuts or Pop’d Kerns or the bottom of the popcorn bowl, you will undoubtedly like these too!

P.S. this Partially Popped Popcorn looks an awful lot like another product Trader Joe’s released over a decade ago called Corn a Copius….granted that snack wasn’t butter flavored.  But still, are you trying to pull one over on us Trader Joe’s?!

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

Triple P 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

25 Chips to Christmas….

#6

Trader Joe’s – Potato Chips with South African Style Seasoning

Trader Joe's - Potato Chips with South African Style Seasoning

Original Review Here

Trader J’s Triple S (South African Seasoned Smoked) Potato Chips, may not take our top spot for the year, but if we were doling out awards they would certainly win our ‘most surprising & daringly unique’ trophy!  A challenging flavor unlike any other we have tried this year.