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?