Before the barbecue Saturday, I asked the host what I should bring. “Maybe some bags of chips that aren’t plain,” he responded. I try to avoid that aisle entirely so it’s been a while since I really inspected what was out there. Tzatziki? Szechuan Chicken? Ketchup? What a time to be alive.
Flavored potato chips have been with us since the 1950s, when Joe “Spud” Murphy and Seamus Bourke produced Cheese & Onion, Salt & Vinegar, and Barbecue chips for Tayto in the Republic of Ireland. The concept soon went global and eventually went very, very local. I have rounded up some of the stranger flavors available overseas. Note: I didn’t carry out a ton of research in my local grocery store so it’s entirely possible some of these can be found in the US.
- Beef and Onion (Northern Ireland)
Maybe this isn’t so strange after all. The first recorded potato chip recipe, in 1817’s The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, did call for frying the potatoes in lard or meat drippings. Tayto, mentioned above, licensed their name to a Northern Irish company that chose to put this flavor out instead of the original Cheese & Onion. I first learned of this flavor from someone at the barbecue who said it had a very strong hamburger taste.
2. Lobster Hot Plate (Thailand)
The artwork on the bag depicts a whole lobster on a bed of cooked greens. An online reviewer says it smells like foot and tastes like an amorphous seafood barbecue. Sounds amazing, darn this shellfish allergy of mine.
3. Red Caviar (Russia)
Like Lobster Hot Plate, this flavor is produced by Lay’s. One blogger said it tasted like caviar (but complained that it lacked the slimy texture), while another described the taste as one of “salty butter.”
4. Maple Moose (Canada)
These won a Lay’s contest but were only on the market briefly before being discontinued due to low sales. One reviewer described it as having “an acrid mustiness that’s just unpleasant.” At least the guy who submitted the recipe is $50,000 richer.
5. Builder’s Breakfast (United Kingdom)
From everything I’ve been able to find, these were only available for a limited time and the flavor of eggs has not been replicated by any other chip brand. It sounds so horrific, and reviewers were so turned off by the sulfuric smell, that it deserved a mention here. “Like a rotten Egg McMuffin you found in the trash” was another take on it.
As for the Lay’s flavors I ended up bringing to the barbecue, the Tzatziki had a pretty strong cucumber taste and the Szechuan Chicken had a little heat with a soy-garlic flavor. I didn’t pick up on the chicken although everyone else did. I don’t think I would buy either flavor again, but the Tzatziki was a big hit with everyone else.
And now for some cozy things I liked today:
Long read of the day: Bee Wilson wrote a really lovely piece about her sister’s anorexia
Gardening idea of the day: How to make a wheel herb planter
Cooking video of the day: Pull-apart Pizza Muffins