Snack Review and Giveaway: Michael Season’s Kettle Cooked Chips
Michael Season’s has been dishing out healthy, all natural snacks for a few years now, but only recently has the company expanded into the realm of the kettle chip. With five new flavors of kettle chips promising 40% less fat that the leading brand of “regular” kettle chips, Michael Season’s isn’t doing anything terribly new in snacking, but that doesn’t mean I’m not up to give ’em a try. Recently a rep from the company sent me over a bag of each new flavor to try. Don’t mind if I do!
I’ll start with my favorite flavor, which, ironically, is the chip without a flavor. I’ve had the privilege to eat an unsalted kettle chip right off the fryer at Route 11 once, and this chip was the closest to that experience I’ve come. Earthy, with a background sweetness and an intense crunch, it’s a chip that serious chip lovers can savor – and flavor and salt fans will hate. I loved it because it’s the kind of snack which makes you slow down a train your tastes, but be warned, the tasting was downhill from there.
Tough to say a lot about these. They carry a categorically strong crunch and little surface oil, while the salt tastes comparable to most major kettle chips in of the same flavor. The potato flavor is good, but I can’t distinguish these from any other kettle chip brand, other than a stronger than normal crunch. I guess it depends on your taste, but I’m ready to move onto the actual flavors.
Sea Salt and Balsamic
OK, by this time I’ve gotten the memo: 40% fat doesn’t mean 40% less crunch, apparently. The thickness and crunch of the chips is ideal for me, but may be too intense for some. The initial taste I get is slightly sweet – not fruity or tangy like balsamic, but muted and somewhat deeper. The “Balsamic Vinegar” is really almost a non-factor, and all I taste is a less puckering version of the ubiquitous “vinegar” taste many kettle chips have. It’s a solid chip though. Crunchy, not oily on the surface, with a hearty finish that is potato intense. The restrained salt use allows the potato to speak for itself, but these are not as flavorful as other “Balsamic” chips I’ve had in the past.
I couldn’t detect the “hint” of honey in these chips, and found the seasoning blend to lack typical barbecue sweetness and smokiness. Again, the potato was the dominant flavor of the chip – a plus – but if I’m buying a BBQ chip, I want it to taste “finger licking good.” I admire restrained seasoning on plain chips, but these had no flavor, and were among the least enjoyable BBQ flavored chips I’ve ever had.
Like the Honey BBQ chips, these were under-seasoned. The Jalapeno flavor is moderate but admirable given the complexity of the spice, although it comes on the back-end and with little heat attached. I thought they could have used more salt, although the sweetness factor was just right. Again, good chip, weak seasoning, with little flavor of the “garlic and onion” the package claims.
Michael Season’s Kettle Chips are a good pick if you can find them on sale and you enjoy the taste and texture of sturdy, minimalistic chip. Personally, I favor kettle chips from several other makers (including Utz and Cape Cod), which also make reduced fat chips that are more flavorful and of comparable nutrition. I may not be crazy for the chips, but hey, they’re chips, and who doesn’t like free chips?
That’s right, I said FREE CHIPS. Michael Season’s wants to reward a loyal GrubGrade reader and snack food junkie with a box of their new Kettle Cooked chips, and I’m more than happy to help them out. But I’m also curious, so here’s the deal: To be entered in our random drawing for the chips, leave a comment letting us know the single best potato chip you’ve ever had. For me, it’s easy: Utz’s Dark Russet!