Snack Review: UTZ Kettle Classic Dark Russet Kettle Chips
Oh UTZ, I have been too far away from you for too long. Stuck amidst subpar potato snacking options in the frigid wilderness of Utah, I’ve long for the tradition of rosy faced grandmas stirring over kettles of lard in the Pennsylvania Dutch countryside, frying up thick cut Russet and Sweet Potatoes. But alas, it’s Christmastime, and aside from the usual assortment of peppermint, gingerbread men, and all the shrimp cocktails a guy like me could want, Christmas parties inevitably demand chips. And when I’m back in Maryland with my family for Christmas, no “regular” chip will do. Only UTZ will suffice, and only the classier kettle style flavors will do.
I could have picked up a bag of the prerequisite Regular or Reduced Fat UTZ Kettle Classic flavors that I usually get, but inspired by a grocery store sale after months of not seeing a single bag of UTZ on the shelves of Utah grocery stores, I rolled the dice last week and picked up a bag of the Kettle Classic Dark Russet Chips.
This special variety of Russet results in a robust flavored dark potato chip – dark not from burning or over frying, but from the natural caramelizing of the sugars present in our precision controlled slices. In addition, the natural flavor of peanut oil makes these extra crunchy Classics a delicious addition to our award-winning, light textured line of vegetable oil chips.
Typically speaking, most “regular chips” come from medium sized white potatoes and are fried in a mixture of canola, sunflower, or cottonseed oil. Basically, this allows for mass production while reusing a buttload of oil with a high smoke point and neutral flavor – ideal for the snacking industry and not a bad thing at all. But sometimes a guy just wants to treat himself, and the small batch, lower-temperature cooking nature used in the flavorful peanut oil is just the vehicle to deliver that treat for kettle chips. But than again, you want to know whether or not these things actually live up to their billing, not a chip economy lesson. Fortunately for my party-goers, I’m here to tell you that they do.
The texture of these chips is exactly what you’d expect from UTZ. They’re not overly oily but have a smooth, lick-able moisture of peanut oil which adds flavor. Tiny air bubbles twist and turn around the curled and raked edges, and the chips’ crunch are just strong enough to make a modest sound before full chewage. But that’s the case with most kettle chips. Where these little guys really stand out is in flavor, which I must say might be the most intense of any non-seasoned potato chip I have ever eaten. It matches the company description exactly and is just absolutely amazing.
They are what real “house made” chips aspire to taste like, with none of the inconsistent texture and sogginess that usually accompanies a freshly cooked batch at a brewpub or some such. They taste saltier than regular UTZ kettle chips – a good thing in this case – but the thing I’m most intrigued about is the sweetness. Regular potato chips can be kind of boring, but the caramelizing of the natural starches in the russet really do create a earthly-sweet flavor, which prominently explodes in your mouth thanks to the salt. While they’re more than good enough to eat on their own, be advised that they can cause serious addiction if exposed to ketchup.
To make a long story short, I wouldn’t bother with buying these for a party, especially not one full of ungrateful family members or jerk bosses. As the most flavorful brand of kettle chip I’ve ever tasted, UTZ’s Gourmet Dark Russets are just too good for any potential guests. Besides, Uncle Frank is a cheapskate anyway and everyone knows that, so he can settle on some “Great Value” type brand anyway. Just tell him the spuds are from an heirloom breed out of an ancient potato chip Indian farm from Idaho or something and he’ll bite. The only case I’d make an exception is if you’re about to fire all your staff members and want to lessen the blow, but even then, be sure to save some for yourself.
Pros: Amazing sweet and earthy potato flavor cannot be improved upon. Basically, perfection in fried potato form.
Cons: Uncle Frank. Firing employees and having to use chips as compensation. Like that's gonna console Tiny Tim.
Price: 2.00 (on sale at Weis, Retials $3.49 for 8 oz bag)
Overall GrubGrade: 9.75/10
More Info: www.utzsnacks.com
UTZ Kettle Classics Gourmet Dark Russert Chips
Total Fat: 9 grams
Saturated Fat: 1.5 grams
Monounsaturated Fat: 4.5
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 120 mg (5%)
Potassium: 370 mg (11%)
Total Carbs: 15 grams
Fiber: 1 g
Sugars: Less than 1 gram
Protein: 2 grams