The Mid-Atlantic Potato Chip Throwdown: “Who’s Who”
All things considered, we’ve had quite a week here on GrubGrade.com. Not only did we experience pure sweet potato nirvana in a fried form (Route 11 Potato Chips, read our review here), but we even managed to arrive at some semblance of a consensus as to which Mid-Atlantic chip company makes the best potato chip. All of this, of course, without our fearless leader Ryan, who along with Bear Silber was last seen fleeing Los Angeles in a ’94 Bronco while claiming to have invented a “Chalupizza” that even this guy would have trouble downing.
Before we reveal the “final” results of Tuesday’s Throwdown, let me emphasize that the testers more or less enjoyed all the chips tasted, with the notable exception of Sample 3, which sucked. We’re not hoity-toity “experts” here people, and (outside of maybe myself) we’re not going to make up some metaphysical conceit touting the perceived advantages of a “naturally crisp Idaho spud with a subtle yet full bodied flavor that comes from organic French sea salt and pure cottonseed oil.” With that being said, giddyup…
Final Score: 7.66 (Good)
Nobody in our group was very familiar with Herr’s chips, which might be why most of us guessed that these were Lay’s brand chips to begin with. We all really liked this chip, and the brand gets my personal recommendation as well. These are just good solid potato chips with an above average flavor, texture, and a nice cover of salt which isn’t as skimpy as some other brands. I’ve raved about Herr’s products before, and have yet to buy something from this company which I haven’t enjoyed.
Final Verdict: I’d Buy ‘em
Final Score: 5.83 (Medicore)
This was the big shocker for everyone in the group (including myself) who had pegged the Utz chips we all grew up on as being Sample #1 or Sample #4 (our highest scoring chips.) I don’t know whether or not the bag we tasted from just happened to be sitting around too long or what, but we all sort of felt like these chips we’re “just OK” and didn’t have much flavor. Frankly, I think this is because we were trying to be too “official” in our tasting, and didn’t properly enjoy the chips as they are supposed to be enjoyed – that is to say we didn’t just stuff our faces with these things. Coincidentally, I tasted some Utz Kettle Chips for the first time yesterday, and loved them. While the company did not come up with the best showing in our test, they nevertheless produce a plethora of chips which I would suggest, including their unique Carolina BBQ chips.
Final Verdict: ‘Procure’ them from a friend’s house, then buy more as needed
Final Score: 4.33 (Poor)
We’ve been saying it all along; these chips were horrible. They tasted old, they had little potato flavor, and they would have received a score of -2.7 had it not been for their surprisingly sturdy and enjoyable crunch. I, along with the rest of the team, would not recommend even looking at these in the snack food aisle, much less spending money on them.
Final Verdict: Avoid at all costs
“Sample 4″=Route 11
Final Score: 6.16 (Average)
These chips were good – if not otherwise divisive – because of their uniqueness. As I said the other day, they really aren’t your standard, cheap-and-massed-produced kind of chips, and probably more aptly fit the ‘kettle cooked’ definition of a chip. I’ve raved about Route 11′s flavored chips before, but I think the concept of a regular, ‘minimalist’ chip that is ‘lightly salted’ may just have been a little too extreme for those belonging to the age bracket that our tasters fall into. Still, knowing some of the old farts who read this blog, I’d definitely recommend these if you can find them.
Final Verdict: Try first, then stock up if enjoyed
Final Score: 7.50 (Good)
I’ll be honest with you in that I came into this experiment somewhat hoping the national brand of chips would come out below all the local chips. It’s not that I hate Frito-Lay, but I just resent the fact that every major “national” snack brand seems to belong to the company. That being said I have to admit these chips were good. They are, like one of our taste testers said, “what I think of when I think of a chip.” Because of a stubborn and not-quite-accurate ideal of chip makers like Utz and Herr’s employing only the finest in Amish labor I will probably continue to buy Utz and Herr’s chips over Lays, although I’ll gladly concede to a bag if out of my Mid-Atlantic comfort zone.
Final Verdict: I’d Buy ‘em (If on sale and out of the Mid-Atlantic)
A Note on Price
If cost is an issue, I would recommend Utz. I’ve often encountered their 3.75 oz bags for only a buck or so, which beats anything else I’ve seen. That is except for Martin’s, but we’re not going to touch that again…
Think we got it wrong when it comes to Potato chips? Hit the comment button and let us know!