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potato chips-is Consumer Reports out to lunch?

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  • yvonne johnson Apr 1, 2001 08:01 PM
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i know it's only pot chips and I don't eat chips that often, but i'm starting to question consumer reports' testers' taste.

summary: may 2001 ed. Test around 30 brands of potato chips. Top of list is Utz ripples. Bottom of list is Munchos (never heard of these poor sods, "fabricated chips"!). What i don't understand is that Lay's and Wise chips are deemed better than Cape Cod kettle chips (10th on list). I think Cape Cod chips and maybe the "NYDeli" (jalapeno esp) are far superior to other chips. not listed are route 11 chips. I quite like the dill pickle ones.

Not in the formal CR test, but mentioned, are those trendy 'terra' (terracotta more like, stale weird vegetables and fruits) chips. they are truly...well horrible imo.

(intersting aside tho. bec chips are so delicate, makers like to ship no farther than 300 miles so there may be regional variations.)

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  1. Munchos pretend to be potato chips, but actually they're more like ultra-thin fried potato crackers. I don't think they're too bad, but I'm not a chip person, and I rarely eat any sort, even if they're free.

    26 Replies
    1. re: ironmom
      j
      Jennifer Fish

      Can't wait for that issue!
      My favorites are Tim's Cascade's (Portland, Oregon) and Kitchen Cook's (?) Mauii chips but I've never seen them outside of Hawaii. And I remember chips being delivered to our house in the 60s in big brown tins. But can't remember what they were called.

      1. re: Jennifer Fish

        Charles Chips!

        1. re: Jim Leff
          j
          Jennifer Fish

          You're right (of course!)and I just found their website--they still exist (and are looking for someone to take over their Century City route. Hmmm...very tempting...)
          http://www.charleschips.com/home.htm

          1. re: Jennifer Fish

            Hey, follow yer bliss...!

            1. re: Jim Leff
              m
              Michele Cindy

              I remember getting Charles Chips and pretzels delivered to our home in a can when I was very young... I still prefer that type of chip, light, crisp with a strong fresh potato taste. These days I opt for Snyders no salt. I find any chip that doesn't have salt added or used light salt tastes more
              potato-y. I still can't get over the feeling that when I eat a "crispy" chip like Cape Cod, that it's not stale.

          2. re: Jim Leff
            y
            yvonne johnson

            I'd never heard of them. i've just ordered $25 worth. (that's the minumum you can order. oh, boy, an impossible heap of chips) i'll report back when i've finished munching.
            ps: they are out of their tins. they look kind of cool.

            1. re: yvonne johnson

              Hmmm..Yvonne, I think there may have been cheaper ways of doing this in NYC...wish you'd asked here before ordering! Also, while they're perfectly nice "light" style chips (probably the best of this more unambitious genre), none of us were actually raving over them! On the other hand, the "big can o' chips" IS kind of a fun thing to have around, and kids love them (if you have progeny, it'll create good memories for them). Also it's got a nice look to it...the can's highly reusable.

              I'm hoping to be doing a potato chip tasting article real soon... and the results may spark a good bit of special ordering.

              Meanwhile I look forward to hearing your opinion.

              1. re: Jim Leff
                y
                yvonne johnson

                too late. there's a UPS truck making its way to NY that is chock full of every possible flavor of charles chips...just for me. Let's see, plain, jalapeno, salt and vinegar, flavor of the month (onion and garlic), cheddar and sour cream, and more plain (they were out of one sort). all that for $25, but yes, you're right, these chips are pretty pricey bec of the additional whopping shipping costs. I guess it does cost $12.20 to hawl this stuff from CA to NY! Today, I've spent way too much for chips. Oh dear, am i a potato head or what?

                you see, they sounded good. posters were talking about good childhood memories. Now that I'm an american, I want to join in. but now I'm a little worried, what am i going to do with them all? Nope, i've no little hounds. However, on the bright side, my better half quite likes chips (or at least did, he doesn't know yet). and, oh, we've some guests coming to stay next week, so there'll be plenty nibbles to go with drinks. And, one of our cats really likes salty things (mind you, how much can she possibly get through?)

                1. re: yvonne johnson

                  Yvonne--easy solution. throw a potato chip tasting party. sounds dumb, but it might actually be a riot. Have the big cans all lined up, all the different flavors. Invite friends. That's what I'd do. Alternatively, they're a GREAT thing to bring to parties in lieu of the standard cheap bottle of wine. If you don't open 'em, they'll last quite a while, and you can gradually use 'em, one by one, this way. Final alternative: only nine more months till Christmas.

                  Also, bear in mind that the chips keep REALLY well in the cans even after opening, so you could actually work through 'em!

                  Anyway, don't sweat it too much. I just wasted $250 on a Priceline plane ticket, so it could be worse...

                  ciao

                  1. re: Jim Leff
                    y
                    yvonne johnson

                    thanks for your suggestions Jim. I'll probably use them all! when I wrote earlier "they are out of cans" I didn't mean the chips come out of the cans, rather the company is out of cans. The cans are out of stock--pity as they do look cool. no matter, i'll have a hoot. ps: too bad about your ticket.

                    1. re: Jim Leff
                      y
                      yvonne johnson

                      my charles chips, in a box nearly as big as the UPS guy, arrived last week. Let's see, i've got around six pounds of chips in my living room. That's a lot of chips. But they are *really* good. Even with guests, we've only made tiny inroads into the garlic and onion, and jalapeno batches. Both very tasty, and the jalapeno ones are the hottest (and therefore best) chip of this kind i've tasted. They are not as thick as kettle chips, but way thicker than the paper thin wise variety. i'd rate them up there with cape cod, so a great success so far. we're having more houseguests later this week, so they will definitely go.

                      1. re: yvonne johnson

                        Now, after the chipfest, what's the plan for the lovely tins? Could be a fun 'hound open forum! (Not About Food?)

                        1. re: berkleybabe
                          y
                          yvonne johnson

                          unfortunately, they are out of the tins. the web page said the company didn't know when the tins would be in stock again. mine came in bags. boo, hoo.

                          1. re: yvonne johnson

                            okay, i'm really late in the game here, but i'm salivating over the thought of these chips! how can i get ahold of some? i'm in san francisco, is there a retailer in the Bay area? i'd love an email response: shellfood@earthlink.net

                            Thanks!!!

                            1. re: Rochelle
                              y
                              yvonne johnson

                              Rochelle,

                              http://www.charleschips.com/home.htm
                              link below
                              it was buried in earlier post from Jennifer Fish
                              Cheers. yvonne
                              ps: i sent you an email too.

                              Link: http://www.charleschips.com/home.htm

                        2. re: yvonne johnson
                          j
                          Jennifer Fish Wilson

                          I am so glad you like them. I felt bad when you ordered them based on my childhood chip reminiscing--I couldn't vouch for their taste--I just remembered what a cool experience it was to have a tin of potato chips delivered to our house.

                          1. re: Jennifer Fish Wilson
                            y
                            yvonne johnson

                            i was meaning to thank you for the original rec. no worries were needed. they're great. truly grateful. oh, the benefits of chowhounding.

                      2. re: yvonne johnson
                        p
                        Pat Goldberg

                        Perhaps the cat will contribute more than you think. When I was a kid in Maine, I had a cat who ate raw potatoes. We used to make him stay in the cellar at night, to which he objected. One night, I am sure for spite, he took a bite out of almost every potato in the cellar (remember, this was Maine -- we grew our own supply). Now if he had only liked salt....

                      3. re: Jim Leff

                        On Charles Chips:

                        The can may be re-usable, but when I was a kid (Binghamton, NY) the Charles Chips truck used to deliver the chips (just the regular salted style, I believe, and pretzels) and pick up the used cans to be refilled. I don't think you could buy them in the shops. They were based somewhere in central Pennsylvania (Hannover?).

                        Cheers,
                        Joe Moryl

                        1. re: The can....

                          I remember those cans, and the delivery trucks. Growing up in suburban Detroit, our next door neighbors (with 5 kids) had the chips delivered regularly. I thought it was the height of luxury! Uniformed driver bringing the huge, cool can full of chips. And a mother that let you eat them!

                        2. re: Jim Leff

                          I grew up on Wise Potato Chips and still love that salty, greasy taste. Wise chips have very little to do with those 'new' chips (the healthier stuff) -- the products with 'good' oil, 'real' potato flavor. Wise is for snacking when you really crave salt and oil. I wish they'd do a ketchup flavor - like the British 'crisps.' Herr does a ketchup variety but it's only 'okay.' Still waiting for Lay's to market the Lime potato chips I had in Colorado. (Nothing like the lime tortilla type chips currently sold here, in the NY area. These were real POTATO CHIPS -- had an intense lime flavor -- like sipping the salt off the glass of a lime Margarita!) P.S. JIM - I'm happily anticipating your article on chips!

                          1. re: Alice

                            Alice, I looked for the lime Lay's chips when I was in Florida; no luck! Wish I knew someone in Colorado! pat

                            1. re: pat hammond

                              Pat, next time my friend from Denver comes to NY, I will request (beg!) her to bring a few bags -- and I will send you one!

                              1. re: Alice

                                Alice, If you should get a bag, hang on to it. You, Lynn and I still have a lunch date waiting to happen sometime. If that fails, Lynn and my son-in-law work in the same place and she could leave him holding the bag, so to speak! Everytime I shop, like a few minutes ago, I look for them. Had to content myself with vinegar/salt ones. Not that I need chips at all! pat

                                1. re: pat hammond

                                  Pat, that's exactly what I just stuck into my cupboard: Salt and Vinegar chips! (Lay's) Second best to Lime, but still tart and tasty. I don't "need" them either, but I guess, if worse comes to worse, we can always lick up all the good salt and vinegar flavor--and toss the chip! lol

                                  1. re: Alice

                                    Pat - forgot! Am ALSO looking forward to that meal when you come to NYC!

                2. I'm a chipaholic from way back. When I get that urge, I will even make a special trip to the closest 7-11 to buy chips.

                  My choice? Good old plain ordinary unflavored Lays Ruffles. Not that "WOW" kind either.

                  Consumer Reports lists the Utz Ripples brand at the top. Sometimes, I will buy those when they're out of Lays Ruffles. But they are never, and I mean never, as good.

                  Lays Ruffles beats Utz Ripples hands down every single time.

                  Dennis

                  1. down here in the south, Zapp's are the best i've had. They're kettle chips made in peanut oil. great browned potato flavor. I don't like chips much, but i get these to go with my sandwiches at the deli. I remember a thick cut type called "O'Grady's" about 10 or 15 years back, and they were pretty good.

                    although they're airy and fake, Munchos are actually halfway decent--- like most chips, really. Is there really anything that can be called 'an excellent potato chip'? I've never tasted it...

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: andy huse
                      j
                      Jason Perlow

                      I was considering doing some food research to design the perfect potato chip snack... My idea was to simulate spanish thick-cut Papa Fritas fried in olive oil with a spanish saffron and garlic/ajillo flavor... probably would be way too expensive to do though.

                      1. re: andy huse

                        I'm with you. Zapp's are some of the best in the country. They-along with Krunchers--are the only flavored chips I like. And I'm pretty sure even their unflavored model will make the finals of my taste-off.

                        They're not officially distributed in NYC, but you can find 'em at Virgil's in midtown and at Teddy's in brooklyn.

                        Your question about excellence goes deep. I'm gonna try to write about the issue.

                        ciao

                      2. I'm saddened that consumers report that Munchos don't, er, stack up. But they've always been my absolute favorite! Always crunchy, you can lick the salt off 'em...I guess they are to real chips what (my other vice) Kraft Mac & Cheese is to pasta - i.e. removing the word 'Kraft' would be false advertising.

                        PS I loved the idea of a chip-tasting party! Nothing like a little harmless chow debate to get a crowd going.

                        1. c
                          Caitlin Wheeler

                          I just tried this place (I think there are many branches, but the one I tried was on LaGuardia place just north of Houston in NYC) and the chips were very good -- the salt and vinegar was very vinegary (a plus in my book) but you could taste a good potato taste behind it. Anyone tried them?