Review: Spicy Snack Flame-Off

On my way to a bachelor party in eastern Wisconsin, I stopped into my local convenience store to pick up a bag of chips and a pop before setting out on the long drive.  While in the snack chip aisle, a bag of Ruffles potato chips caught my eye.  On the bag was the worst graphic depiction of a buffalo wing I had ever seen, but that’s not what interested me.  It was the combination of potato chips and buffalo wings; the two favorite items of the bachelor, let’s call him “Dave”.  Now Dave isn’t a man of worldly possessions or in line to be the next host of Life Styles of the Rich and Famous, but I’d be willing to bet there are more Pringles in his cupboard than Porsches in LeBron’s garage.  When it comes to snacks, Dave knows his stuff (as a side note, Dave also has a strange working knowledge of US Presidents).

As I picked up the bag of Ruffles Molten Hot Wing flavored chips, I noticed there was a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos next to it.  I stepped back and looked around and discovered that there were as many “hot” flavored snacks as there were of any other variety.  I started out thinking that I would just get a bag of the Ruffles for Dave as a sort of gag gift for his Bachelor Party, but ended up thinking that this might be an event well suited to host a GrubGrade style showdown of all the spicy chip-style snacks I could find… I had assembled the perfect test audience for this type of product; a bunch of beer-drinking males in their early 30s.  Everyone was happy to participate in the taste test and even happier to “cleanse their palate” between products with an ice cold adult beverage.  I asked the testers to rate each product on overall quality, using the GrubGrade 1-10 system. This was not just a ranking of which one was the hottest, but rather a review of whether or not you liked the snack’s combination of heat, flavor and crunch.  The boys were told that this was not a ranking and if they chose to do so, they could give them all a 10 or all a 1.  Roughly a dozen of us participated.


Flamin’ Hot Funyuns:  7.6/10  Tolerable heat, good taste combo w/onion

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos:  7.4/10  Solid heat, you’ll need a beverage, messy fingers

Dutch Crunch Jalapeno & Cheddar:  7.2/10  Local favorite, carried by Jimmy Johns, still lets potato flavor through

Jalapeno Pringles:  6.4/10  I’m a Pringles purist; only like the originals.  Once you pop, you could stop.

Molten Hot Wings Ruffles:  6.1/10  Not impressed. Would be interesting w/Bleu Cheese Dressing

Hot Buffalo Bugles:  5.8/10  Disappointing, given my love for Bugles

Andy Capp’s Hot Chili Cheese Steak Fries:  5.0/10  Glad to see others rated these low, never been a fan of AC Fries

Xtreme Smokin’ Hot Ranch Pringles:  4.5/10  Just a strange flavor and too much of it

Now I know that some of you will accuse me of comparing apples to oranges, but I think this is a fair match up since I usually don’t go into the snack aisle saying:  “OK, do I want the Frito Lay potato chip or the Ruffles?”  I’m just looking for a snack during the football game or to eat on the road, meaning all of these products are competing for my business.  Also, I’m sure that there will be folks doubting the results due to the possibility of intoxication among some of our samplers.  However, I assure you that it was early in the evening and the conditions were as controlled as can be expected.  These products are just the ones that happened to be in my local gas station snack section.  I’d be glad to hear about others you think might satisfy a group of Sconnies and an intruder from the Land of 10,000 lakes. 

What’s your favorite spicy snack?

31 comments on “Review: Spicy Snack Flame-Off

  1. Adam says:

    You should try Corn Nuts’ Chorizo flavor!

  2. kikurage says:

    Oh.I feel a heartburn! and sour stomach.

  3. Jessica says:

    Are FunYuns & Cheetos produced by the same company? The font for “Flamin Hot” look exactly the same

  4. fah fah fah says:

    Herr’s Hot Cheese Curls!

  5. J.A. says:

    I semi liked the molten wings pringles, but the chili cheese fries ones were better..

    What am I doing with my life?

  6. matt in the hatt says:

    hot and spicy chex mix

  7. Manavee says:

    I’m a Notre Dame fan.

    Do they sell any chips flavored with aresnic, with just a little bit of cyanide laced in?

  8. Obbop says:

    With advancing age and ever-declining income as the national wealth continues its ever-upwards climb into the greedy grasping relentlessly money-clutching talons of the “worthy” ruling class and corporate USA I, the mighty Obbop, Disgruntled Old Coot nonpareil, have been limited to nibbling upon the more affordable buy-per-pound peppers in the grocery store veggie section.

    Seemingly pricey per pound the peppers weigh so little that a large paw full is not very expensive and the “heat factor” is undiluted by introduced “contaminants.”

    Chawing upon the peppers is akin to a Zen-like event within the shanty atop the Ozark Plateau.

  9. Charlotte says:

    Jalepeno Krunchers are my favorite.

  10. VanessaG says:

    hot and spicy chex mix. Cool post. You should do more snack taste testing parties. How about a post on the best tasting cheese puffs. I’ve learned that sometimes the generic brands are better. 🙂

  11. DeBo says:

    You should try Blair’s Habanero Chips. Nice and spicy.

  12. Griffin says:

    You forgot hot n spicy or jalapeno cheddar check mix ….soooo good

  13. James says:

    Nothing better than Blair’s Death Rain potato chips.

    • Barr says:

      OH MAN! Where do you get those!??!!? As a self-described fire-eater, I say most snacks boasting an intolerable heat level truly don’t know what intolerable is. I realize they are selling them to the untrained masses, but don’t blow the proverbial smoke up my arse by tellin me “these are the hottest.”

  14. Mike N says:

    You need to get your hands on some Red Hot Riplets:

    They’re actually a little TOO hot for me, which is quite a surprise since the midwest isn’t known for hot stuff. But they’re great because they actually taste like something other than just being hot.

  15. jill says:

    The Ruffles are divine dipped in Ranch dressing!

  16. Eric says:

    Snyder’s of Hanover Hot Buffalo Wing Pretzel Pieces are my personal favorite spicy snack, but I also have friends who swear by Lay’s Hot & Spicy Barbecue Flavored Potato Chips.

    I can see the Funyun’s being great with a little spice added, so I’ll have to try those.

  17. nottom says:

    You should give Snyder’s Hot Buffalo Wing Pretzel Pieces a try. They are pretty tasty.

  18. Megan says:

    I have to say Utz Kettle classics SPICY smokin sweet potato chips are great (not the regulat smokin sweet – but the SPICY), and another one that’s good is the route 11 brand mama zuma’s revenge chips.

  19. Aimee says:

    If you can find them, get the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos with Limon. They are the awesome, but I can only find them @ the Mexican grocery stores.

  20. wrongway says:

    I like the Sweet and Spicy Jalapeno chips from Cape Cod, because they are very mildly spicy. Also, Flamin’ Hot Crunchy Cheetos will always be special to me. They and all other spicy snacks were introduced to me by a friend who sadly passed away.

  21. mbs says:

    Here in Texas, we have a type of Hot Chip called Takis. The “Fuego” model is the hottest chip that I know. True pain at every level, and true to its mexican-american constituency, extreme not just in heat but also extreme salt, umami, crunch, etc.

    Bonus fact: serving size on the back of Takis are listed in ‘tacos’ per serving.

    • McSpicin says:

      I second the Takis! I wanted to cry when I first tried the Fuego, but my pain receptors got accustomed so I tried the Nitro Takis and oooooooooh weeeeee! Those are on a whole different level. I wonder if they have anything above that. >:)

  22. Angelo says:

    Has anybody ever tried takis fuego hot chips they have a nice heat with a bid crunch. being in Chicago they can be found in most places, but outside of the city they can be hard to find. If you do see them they are a must try. they come in a unique purple colored bag. That makes them hard to miss on the store shelf

  23. David Ortiz says:

    Best food on earth! So addicting too!

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