Snack Review: Herr’s Barbecue Baked Potato Crisps
Despite growing up in central Maryland, it never really occurred to me that I lived within an area which might accurately be described as a snack food mecca. Granted, I’m more than a few miles from Pennsylvania Dutch country, but the influence of brands like Utz, Martin’s, and Herr’s is never far from my local convenience store shelf. Too bad for the latter two companies, seeing as though I never actually tasted any of their products before yesterday.
Indeed, I would call myself an “Utz Man” through and through. Not only were Utz’s Sour Cream and Onion, Old Bay, and BBQ potato chips readily available in every vending machine in every school I ever attended, but due to some reading comprehension issue of my own fault, “Herr’s” always struck me as being spelled “Herb’s.” And no nine year old worth his GI lunchbox is gonna eat a chip named after some crusty old guy named Herb. Still, seeing as though I’m always on the lookout for new and marginally healthy snack foods, I just couldn’t resist snagging a bag of the new Herr’s Baked Barbecue Crisps, especially not at the very reasonable price of 99 cents for a 1.85oz bag. Having only eaten two other varieties of baked chips in my life (Utz and Lays) I approached these bad boys with a good deal of anticipation, wondering if the company’s latest innovation would be my ticket out of potato chip isolationalism.
In a familiar theme with most of my snack food reviews, my first bite left me underwhelmed. The “crisp” was not crispy like a fried potato chip, but had a decent snap when I bit into it; but that was expected. Yet there seemed to be little seasoning on my chip, and little to no actual potato flavor. As has been the case before however, it only took me a few chips to get into a snacking “groove,” and once I did I discovered that I really liked these crisps. As for the BBQ flavor, I found it more pronounced than the Lays version. That is, I found it more pronounced on the sides of the chips that were actually covered in seasoning. Unfortunately some of the chips were more barren than others, which led to an inconsistent snacking experience. The BBQ seasoning itself was very salty and dominated by the strong presence of the usual suspects of paprika, garlic, and onion powder; but a welcomed – albeit artificial – liquid smoke taste of hickory could be detected in the aftertaste. The seasoning was sweet but not too sweet, although I also experienced an almost “soy cause” quality in the high level of saltiness (I suspect in part to the presence of MSG in the ingredient list).
With only a few brands of baked chips out there, it’s tough to put these in perspective, but I find them very comparable to Utz’s baked line. With that being said, I’d still rank Utz’s chips as slightly ahead of Herr’s. For some reason Utz’s chips just strike me as more balanced, and while I don’t hide the fact that I’m a sodium junkie and closet MSG fan, even I found certain bites of the crisps to be too salty. Still, give Herr’s credit. There is a smokey flavor here that neither Utz nor Lays can match, and at the end of the day these things are only 230 calories a bag. Let’s be real; a potato “crisp” may never be a chip, but for those like me who appreciate their unique flavor and texture profile they bring a certain element of snackability to the table, regardless of their health benefits.
- Pros: Less calories and fat than regular Herr’s barbeque chips. Really digging the use of liquid smoke in the seasoning and the more “complex” saltiness of the crisp. Use of MSG in ingredients reveals obvious balls of Herr’s corporate staff that shatters perception of mom and pop company. Good value.
- Cons: Suffers from same limitations of other baked chips; namely that it’s not an actual chip. Does not have that funky sweetness that works so well in Baked Utz varieties. Hit or miss distribution of seasoning leads to out of control snacking at high speeds. Not sure if I actually tasted the potato part of “dried potato flakes.”
GrubGrade: 7.50/10 (Good)
Price: 99 cents for a 1.85oz bag (Also available: Original, Sour Cream and Onion, Chedder and Sour Cream)
Nutrition – Herr’s Barbecue Baked Potato Crisps
Serving Size (Per 1.85 oz bag): 1
Total Fat: 5g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Total Carbohydrates: 42g
Dietary Fiber: 4g
Sugars: 4 g
Protein: 4 g