Thursday, October 30, 2008

Snack #69- Buenachos Salsapeño flavored Tortilla Chips

Buenachos Salsapeño flavored Tortilla Chips

Salsapeño is a clever play on words that I'm surprised has never been used in the States before. These Dorito-type snacks have a very strong corn flavor which hits you immediately when you start eating them. The flavor itself is very bland and hard to distinguish from the tortilla chip itself. Surprisingly though, these chips do pack a punch. The jalapeño flavor comes through fairly stong after the corn flavor subsides and leaves a sort of bitter heat in the mouth. It's not actually a very pleasant flavor, although less artificial than many of the sweeter jalapeño flavors in many chips. The heat is mostly in the aftertaste and builds up over time. I'm actually impressed, these are the spiciest chips I've managed to find in all of Costa Rica, apart from imported American brands. Maybe there is hope after all for continuing this blog for an entire year.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 3.5/10
Bottom Line: Spicy chips! (well, in Costa Rican terms)

Snack #68- Quesi Trix (Con Salsa Picante) Corn Crunchies

Quesi Trix (Con Salsa Picante) Corn Crunchies

After a dry spell, where I thought I had tried every possible spicy chip in Costa Rica, I found a hidden bakery with new snacks to test! These snacks look like Cheetos and have the same texture as them. The flavor is vaguely cheesy with a hint of jalapeno flavoring. They are nice and crunchy and a tasty snack but they are not very spicy. I wasn't expecting them to be spicy for any reason, but including hot sauce in the description of the snack would indicate some sort of peppery flavoring. When a few are eaten in succession a little heat is felt in the back of the throat, but they definitely don't deliver flavor like the pot of burning jalapenos on the bag would suggest. But they also weren't the most disappointing bag of 'spicy' snacks I've opened while in Costa Rica. I tasted these with a diehard Cheetos fanatic and she thinks they are totally delicious although she agreed they were not as spicy as they could have been. They do have a nice pepper flavoring, fairly natural and authentic, though they don't deliver on the heat.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 2/10
Bottom Line: Delicious Costa Rican Cheetos

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Snack #67 - Wise New York Deli Kettle Cooked Potato Chips, Jalapeno

After experiencing the XXX throwdown on my taste buds that was Blair's Death Rain Habanero, I feel like I could handle anything the spicy chip gods throw my way. These jalapeno flavored chips, while tasty, were nothing but a tingle comparatively. They tasted less like jalapeno and more like a spicy sour cream and onion chip, which as it turns out is really delicious. Lots of onion and garlic flavor as the ingredients indicate while the jalapeno's only contribution is a nice gradual heat. My one complaint is that the chip did not live up to the crunchiness standard I have come to expect (and enjoy) in a kettle cooked chip.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 4/10

Bottom Line: Sour Cream and Onion with a kick

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Snack #66 - Blair's Death Rain Cajun Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

Perhaps I shouldn't have tried these chips so close on the heels of the previous review... I admit my taste buds may be a little (permanently) fried, but these chips are pretty hot too. Not the XXX heat I previously endured, but definitely a quick and powerful heat build-up. They have a nice Cajun flavor, whatever that means. Through the heat I got some tomato, garlic, and maybe chili powder flavor. These were pretty tasty and just hot enough to let you know who's boss. They definitely have lingering heat, your tongue will be tingling for quite some time.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 8/10

Bottom Line: Hot and Cajun-y

Snack #65 - Blair's Death Habanero Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

Holy Sh*t!! These are without a doubt the hottest chips I have ever tasted. The unassuming smell upon open the bag had me fooled, but the second one of those bad boys hit my tongue it was game over. Stupidly, I tried a few more, thinking I needed to figure out the "flavor." The flavor is fire. The bag says XXX Hot, which apparently means cough-inducing, sinus-clearing, eye-watering hot. I literally drank an entire bottle of water and ate several pieces of cheese in a futile attempt to put out the fire. I worry I will never taste again.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 11/10

Bottom Line: for masochists only, and even then, have some milk handy

** I just tried these chips again (Why, I don't know...I'm just so dedicated to the cause) and just before I ran to the fridge for more dairy I got a hint of smokey flavor, lending further credence to the phrase "where there's smoke, there's fire."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Snack #64- Chicharrón Picante (Spicy Pork Rinds)

Chicharrón Picante (Spicy Pork Rinds)

These pork rinds are a little intimidating because I generally prefer my snack foods to be vegetarian. Something about fried pig skin doesn’t sound very appealing but they do say picante so they must be tasted. They taste more like bacon than I ever expected, but with a spicy edge. The spice is like hot barbeque sauce, not a bad flavor but the whole puffy fried bacon in a bag deal threw me off. They are super crunchy, probably because they are deep fried fat. But true to form, the snacks from Panama are spicier than the ones from Costa Rica. If you like pork rinds, then these might be a salty, delectable barbeque snack choice.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 2.5/10
Bottom Line: Extra crispy bacon, bbq style

Snack #63- Doritos Spicy Nacho flavored Tortilla Chips

Doritos Spicy Nacho flavored Tortilla Chips

Initially, these chips are not very spicy, but they do have somewhat of a hot aftertaste. The heat comes on slower than with many other chips that we have tested. The flavor is also artificially cheesy, like the Ranchitas chips, but possibly with less cheese flavor. They don’t have a whole lot of flavor overall, the taste of the corn chip underneath is detectable and masks the flavor on top somewhat. Being American made, we were expecting more spice and flavor, but the raters were surprised to enjoy the local Costa Rican cheese and jalapeño combination tortilla chips more. Overall, these chips were somewhat of a letdown given our expectations of spiciness. It is possible that because these were packaged for export the flavor could have been altered; I haven’t rated this particular flavor in the States before.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 2/10 (probably actually less, but my taste has been distorted by bland Costa Rican chips)
Bottom Line: Somewhat cheesy fake-nacho flavor

Snack #62- Ranchitas Sabor Xtremo Jalapeño Fogoso Tortilla Chips (Extreme Flavor Ardent Jalapeño)

Ranchitas Sabor Xtremo Jalapeño Fogoso Tortilla Chips (Extreme Flavor Ardent Jalapeño)

These tortilla chips are very similar to Doritos, and basically taste like jalapeño and cheese, which is exactly how they are advertised. The cheese flavor is fairly artificial, similar to the cheese color on the actual chip. But they are still pretty tasty for a Costa Rican snack chip, although not particularly spicy. They are also very salty, and the flavoring is not that evenly dispersed, some bites are spicier and some are cheesier. They burn in the throat a little bit when a few are eaten in rapid succession but that might be a slight exaggeration. But overall they give a nice pepper and cheese tortilla crunch and are pretty satisfying, even if they don’t induce jumping in the air like the happy people on the bag.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 2/10
Bottom Line: Artificial cheese and jalapeño goodness

Snack #61- Rizadas Con Sabor a Picanticas (Hot Flavor Potato Chips)

Rizadas Con Sabor a Picanticas (Hot Flavor Potato Chips)

These chips came from Panama! I recently took a trip across the border and picked up little bags of as many spicy snacks as I could find, hoping that people like things with flavor in Panama. These chips are nice and crispy, they have ridges and are a little thicker than the typical paper thin Costa Rican potato chips. The ingredients don’t specify which spices were used but there is definitely some interesting combination of spices. They almost taste like sour cream and onion chips but with a spicy component added. Definitely not like any other spicy chip I’ve had. They are somewhat spicy, not hot like American hot chips but lightyears ahead of Costa Rican “heat”. There is even a cumulative heat that builds in the mouth and could be referred to as a burning sensation. It’s hard to define the spice taste, there is a lot of salt and something sort of peppery, like black pepper and maybe a little cayenne. I actually really enjoy these chips though, even though the spice is relatively subtle.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 2.5/10
Bottom Line: Panama knows spice better than Costa Rica

Monday, September 1, 2008

Snack #60- Sabemas Tortillitas De Maiz Sabor Chile Jalapeño (Jalapeño flavored tortilla chips)

Sabemas Tortillitas De Maiz Sabor Chile Jalapeño (Jalapeño flavored tortilla chips)

These chips are very similar to the preceeding ones but they are slightly different. They have less of a tortilla chip texture and are lighter and fluffier. The only American equivalent I can think of is a Bugle. They crunch well but are crispier than tortilla chips. The flavor is stronger than the PRO chips, they taste more like jalapeño and onion and garlic and overall have an enjoyable flavor. They are tasty and crispy and a nice snack, although they are also not spicy. Costa Rica just doesn’t have spicy snacks it seems.

Bottom Line: Light and crispy tortilla chips
Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 1/10

Snack #59 -PRO Torti Jalapeño Tortilla Chips

PRO Torti Jalapeño Tortilla Chips

These don’t have a very strong flavor, but they do have a nice flavor. They are very crunchy, thicker than normal tortilla chips and a little different in texture, closer to maybe a cracker or something. The flavor is a little sweet, and has a nice pepper flavor although it isn’t very hot. We actually really like the texture, even though it is unusual, and the flavor is subtle but good. I think the texture is like a tortilla chip mixed with a Bugle and a Triscuit, maybe because they are made with corn meal instead of corn flour. They have a definite jalapeño flavor that brings a little heat after 5 or 6 chips. Overall, a nice tasty chip.

Bottom Line: Crunchy and simple jalapeño flavor
Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 1/10

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Snack #58: Exotic Chips Manioc Chili

The hot chicks quest for new spicy chips once again leads us out of the country.... this time to Italy, for a truly international chip experience. I happened across a free trade-type store in Rome where I found these German imported chips from Jakarta. I'm not really sure what that makes them exactly.

On first appearance, or rather smell, I was pretty worried. They smelled gross, like feet. Nevertheless, I powered through and actually, they taste pretty good. There was a definite chili powder flavor that packed some nice heat as I worked my way through the bag.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 6/10

Bottom Line: A tasty international treat if you can get over the smell.

Snack #57: San Carlo Piu Gusto Vivace

The little chili pepper seemed to be a dead give away that these chips would be spicy. The Italians, apparently, do not have false advertising laws. These chips were not remotely spicy. Instead, they had a bit of a BBQ flavor, and a light one at that. All that aside, they were yummy for what they were.

Bottom Line: a light BBQ snack

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 0/10

In other news, I also found this questionably spicy Pringles flavor in the Amsterdam airport. I'm not sure if the chips or only the soccer team is spicy, but either way, entertaining packaging to be sure. Hot Holland Hot!

Snack #56: Plantain Chips, Jungle Chili

While I didn't have to go to Puerto Rico for these chips, the Hot Chick fan base runs deep and fellow spicy chip lover and reader of this blog passed these Puerto Rican plantain chips along for our analysis. Unfortunately, they're not good. Because of the thick cut plantain, the chips are not crunchy at all. Instead they tend to be borderline stale-feeling and taste like oil. As far as spiciness goes however, they do a nice job. At first they just tasted like salty, oily, banana chips, but after a few more they definitely started to accumulate some heat.

Bottom Line: Gross, with a little kick.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 4/10

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Spicy Chip Caption Contest Winner!

Congratulations Mary!! Her clever caption won her a gourmet gift pack of the Hot Chicks favorite spicy chips!

"Honey, I said I need to be BREATHING fire! Go get me some spicy chips!"

We really enjoyed reading all of your entries, thanks for participating and showing your love of all things spicy!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Spicy Chip Caption Contest Ending Soon...

Hey spicy chip fans, don't forget to add your caption to our spicy chip caption contest. The winner will receive a selection of some of our favorite chips!

Contest ends July 30.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Snack #54- Plátanos Tostados Chile (Chile Plantain Chips)

Plátanos Tostados Chile (Chile Plantain Chips)

So it was requested that I rate some spicy plantain chips, which are a favorite snack in Costa Rica. These are some local chips made in Liberia, Costa Rica, which is a fairly large city in Costa Rica and about a half hour drive from where I live. They were purchased from the local pulperia (general store). They are slightly spicy, but unfortunately not crunchy at all. It is questionable how long they were sitting in the store before I purchased them, so perhaps they would be tastier if they were fresher. Plantain chips are usually pretty tasty and with the chile seasoning they have good potential but the flavor falls flat.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 2/10

Bottom Line: Stale and old but good potential.

Snack #53- Rumba Fajitas Rancheras Tortilla Chips

Rumba Fajitas Rancheras Tortilla Chips

These are supposed to taste like meat fajitas, which sounds so disgusting. The ingredients include meat flavoring and sausage flavoring, in addition to jalapeño and hot pepper seasonings. They smell and taste somewhat like jalapeno, but they also have an undeniable flavor of ‘meat’ which is really unappealing. They are not spicy beyond the flavor of jalapeño and were slightly stale out of the bag. The chip itself is fairly thick for a tortilla chip.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 0.5/10

Bottom Line: These would get a high rating on a Disgust-O-Meter.

Snack #52-PRO Maní Con Chile (Hot Peanuts)

PRO Maní Con Chile (Hot Peanuts)

Finally, a snack that isn’t lying about its heat! These are called hot peanuts, and that is pretty much exactly what the sensation is when they are eaten. They are very salty but also have a strong flavor of chili pepper. The flavor is almost bitter, not like a seasoning so much as straight up pepper. It leaves a burning sensation in the mouth that is unlike any other snack that claims to have spice in Costa Rica. It’s not so spicy overall, but compared to all the other Costa Rican spicy snacks it is a welcome relief to taste some heat in these. I am not a huge fan of peanuts, but these ones were definitely better than the spicy peanuts that we tested back in April. They were hotter, and with a more complimentary flavor to the natural flavor of the peanuts.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 3/10

Bottom Line: Salty, pleasantly chili flavored.

Snack #51- Pringles Jalapeño

Pringles Jalapeño

These are definitely the spiciest snack we’ve had in Costa Rica, but that is not saying much at all. They are typical Pringles, crispy in that dried, mashed potato chips way. The flavor is definitely jalapeño and although it is somewhat artificial, it tastes pretty authentic. The spice hits you right away, but fades away quickly and doesn’t build up over time. The flavor is a little bit sweet underneath the jalapeño flavor, like tomatoes and onions, a little bit of a salsa flavor.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 2.5/10

Bottom Line: Spicy snacks in Costa Rica all come from the U.S.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Snack #50: Snyder's of Hanover Hot Buffalo Wing

I really hoped that the Hot Chicks Eatin' Spicy Chips could celebrate their 50th snack tested with a truly excellent hot snack...unfortunately it was not to be. Instead I got some lackluster pretzel crumbles from Snyders. Instead of HOT wing, I got mild wing, which really translated to ketchup and vinegar flavor with no real heat at all. The pretzels are nice and crunchy which I learned last time I tested a Snyder's product, but this time there was no tastiness to back it up.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 1/10

Bottom Line: Very salty, not very delicious.

Snack #49: Pringles Select Jalapeño Ranch

From the new line of "luxury" Pringles potato chips comes the jalapeño ranch flavor, and over all, these were pretty tasty of the line luxury chips as they advertise them, perhaps not, but enjoyable nonetheless. Despite their unassuming white color, these bad boys packed a little punch. After a few there was a definite heat building in the back of my throat. Additionally, the ranch half of the flavor description nicely balanced the jalapeño heat with a creamy flavor with good garlic and onion flavor.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 3/10

Bottom Line: No need for milk, but nice jalapeno ranch flavor.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Snack #48: Hot Potatoes' Spicy Bloody Mary Potato Chips

I had high hopes for these chips. Clever packaging, interesting flavor idea, but ultimately was a little disappointed. Instead of a spicy kick of Bloody Mary as promised, I got little more than a smoky tomato flavor with little or no discernible heat. In fact, I was pretty grossed out by the flavor at first. It grew on me after a while, but I really had to work at it. The same company had other flavors like Margarita which, while not spicy, sounded exciting, but after the Bloody Mary debacle, I think I'll hold off on testing those out.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 0/10

Bottom Line: If you're looking for a Bloody Mary drink one and eat a bag of chips later.

Snack #47: Boulder Canyon Jalapeño Cheddar Potato Chips

First impression: the bag is more than half empty. And while I appreciate that this left a lot of the chips intact, it also meant there weren't very many of them to start with. Onto the flavor... While ostensibly jalapeño flavored, they smelled and tasted overwhelmingly of bacon. Tasty, but not the spicy, cheesy taste I was hoping for. After a while they did build a slight heat in the back of my throat, but nothing too exciting. And as I've come to except and love from kettle cooked chips, these chips had a nice crunch to them.

***I'm sure you're wondering what these chips look like...none of the usual up-close snapshots? As it turns out, spicy chips are a thing to be guarded, and before I could snap a photo, an unnamed chip thief finished the bag...

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 1/10

Bottom Line: Very crunchy, bacon flavored chip

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Snack #45- Rumba Maní Japonés Picante (Spicy Japanese Peanuts)

Rumba Maní Japonés Picante (Spicy Japanese Peanuts)

So these snacks are peanuts with a hard coating of something brown and presumably Japanese flavored. Upon first eating them, they tasted like peanut coated peanuts, and it was hard to distinguish any real flavoring in the coating. But, as one astute rater discovered, when they are sucked on before being chewed, it is possible to find the spicy flavor. It is spiciness without much flavor, though. And the heat starts coming in and seems as if it will continue to get very hot, but then fades back out after a few seconds. The ingredients say they have soy sauce in them, so maybe they are just coated in some crispy, somewhat sugary coating and then dipped in soy sauce at the very end. They are sweet and salty at the same time, it may even be that the coating is a mixture of sugar and soy sauce as they are both in the ingredients. These snacks were made in Costa Rica, which provides more support for the lack of true spicy snacks in Central America. Overall I have been fairly disappointed by most snacks’ claims to be hot, it is still fun to test them but they don’t compete with the caliber of snacks I am used to testing. Hopefully if I do some traveling around Costa Rica I can search for spicier snacks.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 0/10 (1/10 if sucked on)
Bottom Line: Sugar and soy sauce covered peanuts. Subtle flavors.

Snack #46- Jack’s Bolitas Vaqueras (Spicy Cheese Balls)

Jack’s Bolitas Vaqueras (Spicy Cheese Balls)

These snacks taste weird and are weird in concept as well. They are large cheese balls, too large to be effectively seasoned from the outside. The inner portion of the cheese ball is very disappointing because it has a stale, Styrofoam taste and texture. It actually really feels like you are eating Styrofoam when you bite into the center of them. The minimal flavor on the outside is not even reminiscent of barbeque, ketchup, or cheese, which are the three main flavor components claimed in the ingredients. They are NOT spicy. No inkling of spice or heat or anything remotely similar. They don’t really taste good at all…just like old cheese puffs with all the seasoning licked off. So far it seems that Costa Rica will not be a great location for the continuation of the spicy snackz tradition. L.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 0/10
Bottom Line: Someone colored Styrofoam balls orange and put them in this package. Lies lies lies.

Snack #44- Diana Maíz Chino Picante (Spicy Chinese Corn)

Diana Maíz Chino Picante (Spicy Chinese Corn)

These snacks are very confusing. The title of spicy Chinese corn would indicate some sort of Asian seasoning or maybe some soy sauce, but none of that is to be found in the ingredients. The bag also says that they are flavored with barbecue and chile picante, so that would seem like they should be more barbeque than oriental in flavor. We decided to call them weird, yummy, nasty snacks. They are like little mini cheese curls, with a nice light crispy texture that cakes into your teeth when you eat them. They are spicier than the other two Diana snacks we tested, they build up a little more when a few are eaten. The flavor overall is sweet tomato barbeque, a combination of tomato powder and sweet red pepper flavors. The flavor can be a little sickeningly sweet if really focused on, but they are fairly pleasant to snack on, especially because of their convenient small size, which is unusual for a puffed corn snack.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 1/10
Bottom Line: Sweet barbeque fluffy little corn snacks