Monday, November 2, 2009

Snack #105- Deep River Snacks Asian Sweet and Spicy Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

Deep River Snacks Asian Sweet and Spicy Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

These snacks taste exactly as the name would suggest- they are sweet and spicy, with an Asian twist. The sweetness hits first when eating these and it comes across as some kind of almost duck sauce flavor, something fruity like an apricot or peachy flavor. Then the spice hits and just adds some heat on top of the fruit. They are nice and crispy but somehow the fruitiness of the sweet flavors makes a weird combination that isn’t fully pleasing to the palate. The ingredients list includes honey, and that is definitely a component of the flavor, but that doesn’t help because somehow the idea of honey-flavored salty potato chips doesn’t quite work for me. Honey, salt, and spice- it works for sweet and sour chicken, but with potato chips it’s a little too much. They aren’t terrible but they strike me as an attempt at a unique flavor that misses the mark a little.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 3/10
Bottom Line: Odd flavor combination.

Snack #104- Doritos Blazin’ Buffalo and Ranch Flavored Tortilla Chips

Doritos Blazin’ Buffalo and Ranch Flavored Tortilla Chips

These Doritos can be summed up in one word: uninspired. They taste like a mishmash of every other fake nacho cheese and ranch dressing Doritos flavor. There is no distinct ‘buffalo’ flavor and even the ranch flavor is overshadowed by that nasty orange cheese powder. They are mildly spicy, nothing out of the ordinary. It is hard to find anything to say about these chips, really, because they are the most standard flavored tortilla chip you could find. I think the only difference between these and the original Nacho Cheese flavor is the addition of a spicy component. I think we’ve all avoided rating these chips because we knew that they would disappoint, so I bit the bullet and here is the review.

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

Bottom Line: 0/10 on the excitement meter.

Snack #103- Arico Cassava Chips Ginger on Fire

Arico Cassava Chips Ginger on Fire

So these cassava chips are very interesting. They look a lot like potato chips but they have a unique crunch that is a little different from a potato chip; less of a crunch and more of a snap. The flavor is distinctly ginger, very delicious and pretty sweet. One major complaint- WHY are they called Ginger on Fire when they are NOT spicy at ALL?? I tried so hard to will these to be spicy, I ate a lot of them and really savored the flavor, but there is just no hope. They are not even reminiscent of a spicy ginger, they just fall flat. If you realllly suck on them and think hard there is just the barest heat in the back of the mouth. But lack of heat aside, these are delicious if you like sweeter chip flavors.

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

Bottom Line: Sweet ginger, not spicy.

Snack #102- Gettysburg Pretzel & Snack Co. Hot BBQ Pretzels

Gettysburg Pretzel & Snack Co. Hot BBQ Pretzels

This unique spicy snack was purchased from the general store at a big farm in southeastern PA. They are handmade pretzels that seem to be rolled in BBQ seasoning, although the ingredient list doesn’t list any spices, much less specific spicy ones. They definitely taste like barbeque although a little more bitter than the typical flavor. I think the flavoring is a classic sweet barbeque mixed with some sort of bitter, super spicy pepper like habañero. The resulting flavor is initially sweet, and then quickly explodes into a strong heat that burns the whole mouth. And you have to keep on chewing and mashing that flavor into your tongue because these are some HARD pretzels. Something about this flavor also randomly reminds me of black tea…I’m not sure what spice could add that note but it’s interesting. Definitely a surprising heat for something from a farm stand; they are not lying about these being hot BBQ. But unfortunately you probably won’t be able to try these snacks out for yourself if you don’t live in a 200-mile radius of Gettysburg, PA.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 5/10

Bottom Line: SPICY and CRUNCHY.

Snack #101- Cheez-It Baked Snack Mix Extra Hot & Spicy

Cheez-It Baked Snack Mix Extra Hot & Spicy

So this snack is a mix based on the Hot & Spicy Cheez-Its that we rated back in 2008, with the claim that they are now EXTRA hot and spicy. The label says ‘new!’ but they are not too original or exciting. They definitely taste like Tabasco, but aside from the Cheez-Its none of the other snacks really picked up a strong heat. The two pretzel shapes are just a basic salty pretzel with a little dusting of flavoring from the other snacks. The rye bread slices are small, crunchy, and have a very distinct rye flavor which is kind of nice, albeit not so spicy. The ‘crunchy curls’ are by far the worst snack in this mix. They are vaguely Styrofoam-flavored, mildly stale, and really have no discernable flavor. This mix would be better overall if they were not included in it. They also have the tendency to float to the top of the bag because they are lighter than the other snacks which means they are always in the way when you try to grab an actually tasty snack. Overall, the Cheez-Its are the standout in this bag and it would probably be better for a snack craving to just go for the box of Hot & Spicy Cheez-Its and skip the mix.

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

Other snacks- 1/10

Bottom Line: If you want any spice, go for the Cheez-Its alone.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Snack #100 - Poore Brothers Molé

First order of business: the Hot Chicks have turned 100! It's been a long, spicy road, but this marks the 100th spicy (or not so spicy) snack we have eaten in just over a year.

Secondly, this molé flavored chip finally lives up the Poore Brothers' tag line of "intensely different." It is weird!! For those of you who don't know, molé is a Mexican sauce that involves tons of ingredients, everything from peanuts to chocolate to chili peppers. When we opened the bag a strong scent of cinnamon came wafting out, not something you expect when getting ready to eat chips...and that's what these tasted like. If a Red Hot and a potato chip had a baby, it would be these molé chips. They were hot! And after a few, a kind of got into them, but the weirdness prevailed. And despite the bag advertising them as chocolate and chili flavor, there was no chocolate to be found.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 7/10

Bottom Line: weird snack foods love child

Snack #99 - Poore Brothers Sweet Chii & Red Pepper

In the second of the Poore Brothers' tasting, we have these Kettle Chips Spicy Thai knock offs. And unfortunately, as with most knock offs, they were good, but not as good as the real thing. I got flavors of onion, TONS of garlic, a little sweetness, and a pretty solid punch of heat at the end. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed these, but the whole time I found myself wishing they were crunch Kettle brand chips instead.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 5/10

Bottom Line: Poore Brothers isn't a common brand, so just go for the Kettle chips

Snack #98 - Poore Brothers Three Cheese Jalapeño

This is the first of a trio of Poore Brothers' brand chips. The tag line is "intensely different," but these unfortunately were neither different nor all that spicy. They were however, pretty good, assuming you aren't looking for any heat. After eating quite a few, I vaguely felt a tickle of heat on the back of my throat, but that was it. Someone described their flavor as a Funyon in a chip, and that's really exactly what they tasted like. I happen to enjoy a Funyon now and again, but when something is called three cheese jalapeño, I expect to taste cheese and jalapeño, and I didn't get either in this intensely average chip.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: .5/10

Bottom Line: a potato Funyon

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Snack #97- 7 Select Kettle Style Potato Chips Fiery Habanero

7 Select Kettle Style Potato Chips Fiery Habanero

First point of business: yes, these are 7-Eleven brand spicy chips- a true gourmet purchase. But, apparently I spoke too soon, because these are SPICY. I took a tiny nibble of these and it was seriously an explosion of heat in my mouth. These are the classic one-two punch of mouth and throat burn. They even have a slight lip burn and are mildly sweat-inducing. They are nice and crispy, and little thinner than a typical kettle chip, more like a hybrid of a regular chip and a kettle chip. The ingredients list chile peppers including habanero and it is difficult to distinguish any specific pepper flavor but it doesn’t matter because they are so spicy. They are a cornucopia of spicy flavors.
(as a side note: the photo of these chips was somehow lost in the mix...but you'll just have to trust us that these looked like regular kettle chips)

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 8.5/10
Bottom Line: SO FIERY.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Snack #96 - FoodShouldTasteGood Jalapeño Tortilla Chips

FoodShouldTasteGood Jalapeño Tortilla Chips

Moonlighting as crackers and made with diced jalapeño peppers and crushed red peppers. And colored bright red with beet powder, which is an interesting natural color choice. But apparently not intended as a flavor, for I tried very hard to taste the beets but unfortunately could not. The flavors that are advertised are very present, however, and contribute to a very yummy tortilla chip. I usually find that tortilla chips are too plain not to eat without any cheese or tomato-based condiments, i.e. salsa or melted cheese. These are almost chip-like enough to stand alone though, which is appealing. They are light and crispy and fun to look at and have good jalapeño flavors. The little chunks of jalapeño are actually visible in the chip so you KNOW they are natural. Not the spiciest chip out there but with a good kick, and salty like a normal tortilla chip but not overwhelmingly so.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 4/10
Bottom Line: A very tasty tortilla chip variation.

Snack #95 - Inka Corn Roasted Corn Chile Picante

Inka Corn Roasted Corn Chile Picante

Despite having bought these at a gourmet food store, I still didn’t have very high expectations for these. And I was…not disappointed? They are weak in flavor, overly crunchy, and don’t taste anything like roasted corn. I don’t know why the package claims ‘light crunch’…a better tagline would be ‘extreme crunch’. Sometimes they have a faint flavor of popcorn kernels, like when you don’t have any real popcorn left and are forced to chew on the leftover bits to satisfy some remaining snack cravings. They have a hint of peppery flavor but it’s nothing unique or distinct. The only positive is the novelty factor because as stated on the package, this snack is made of Giant Corn! I’ve never seen corn kernels this big without being popped and I marvel at the genetics feat that created such huge corn. In all probability they are not exactly natural or sustainable treats but they are funny looking.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 1/10
Bottom Line: Funny shapes…lame flavor.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Snack #94 - Michael Season’s Baked Cheese Curls Hot Chili Pepper

Michael Season’s Baked Cheese Curls Hot Chili Pepper

Wow…these are a flavor EXPLOSION. I am so incredibly surprised at how much flavor is packed into these wheat/gluten-free, reduced fat, all-natural cheese curls. The first thing that hits when biting into these is an intense, remarkably artificial tasting- despite claims of ‘nothing artificial’- cheese flavor. It might be the classic cheese curl combo of blue cheese and cheddar cheese flavors, but it just doesn’t strike me as a particularly natural taste. And while you are contemplating this overwhelming cheese flavor you will be blindsided by the intense hot chili pepper flavors, which clearly are a select combination of highly spicy peppers. The ingredients have a funny way of describing this pepper flavor; they state that ‘chile peppers (including habanero)’ are the source of the heat, and it definitely tastes like it. Any other savory flavors, such as onion, garlic, and parsley, are completely overshadowed by the cheesy peppery flavor blast. But overall, these are crunchy and crispy and everything a tasty cheese curl snack should be. Although I would probably be tempted to call them more of a cheese crunchie than really a curl…but that’s just my opinion.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 8/10
Bottom Line: Extremely cheesy and spicy crunchie.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Snack #93- Alexia Waffle Fries Bold & Spicy BBQ Potato Snacks

Alexia Waffle Fries Bold & Spicy BBQ Potato Snacks

Skipping over the endless disappointment with the oversized bags, these are just as crispy and delicious as the Hot Pepper flavor, but with a sweet and smoky BBQ twist. They have a strong tomato flavor with undertones of chili pepper and paprika. Not quite as good as actual waffle fries with BBQ sauce but a nice thick, crunchy replacement. I also enjoyed that the ingredients listed all the components of the BBQ flavor, rather than simply ‘BBQ flavoring’. These snacks seem really natural and the flavors always taste authentic and fresh.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 3/10
Bottom Line: Sweet and smoky BBQ crunch.

Snack #92- Alexia Onion Strips Jalapeño Onion Snacks

Alexia Onion Strips Jalapeño Onion Snacks

Ahh yes, another deceiving package; this one almost seems like a complete lie. It claims that there are 18 pieces to a serving and 4.5 servings to a bag. Upon opening the bag it appears that there could possibly be 40 pieces inside, so I decide to count the pieces. Total: 55 onion strips. Where are the other 26? Blatant lies.

Again, packaging aside, these are…interesting snacks. They are almost like onion rings that have been fried to just the barest crisp; they even have a fried onion strip with a crispy outer shell. And they are SPICY. They have an intense jalapeño flavor which is probably heightened by the lack of flavor in the crispy onion coating. The interplay between the sweet onion strip on the inside and the hot outer coating makes a pretty tasty snack overall. The onion flavor is completely natural and the jalapeño flavor is distinctly authentic and these snacks really make me crave onion rings with a spicy dipping sauce.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 7/10
Bottom Line: Very natural onion and jalapeño snack.

Snack #91- Alexia Waffle Fries Hot Pepper Potato Snacks

Alexia Waffle Fries Hot Pepper Potato Snacks

First I would like to say that the packaging on these is a sham. At least 2/3 of this bag is just air…which sucks. That being said, these chips are pretty awesome. They are as thick as actual waffle fries and somehow taste just like them, more like freshly fried potatoes than off-the-shelf bagged chips. Because they are basically extra deep fried waffle fries, they end up being crunchier than any potato chip I’ve ever had, which is a new and fun texture experience. The flavor is mostly waffle fry with an extra salty kick and a medium spicy burst of flavor. The ingredients include habañero and jalapeño peppers and the combination comes through well although they are not too hot. The onion and garlic flavors are also present and contribute to a tasty chip, although the cheese flavor claimed in the ingredients is not evident. Overall they are a highly enjoyable snack and it’s unfortunate that there aren’t more to enjoy in the wimpy bag.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 4/10
Bottom Line: Super crispy!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Snack #90- Deep River Snacks Zesty Jalapeño Potato Chips

Snack #90- Deep River Snacks Zesty Jalapeño Potato Chips

These chips have a really good crunch and a good flavor kick. They have a lot of onion flavor, which fits with the general trend of jalapeño chips tasting like sour cream and onion with a spicy kick. The jalapeño can be tasted and there is good initial heat but there is not really a big flavor blast at the end. The potato can be tasted clearly in the chips and they are pretty salty as well. So overall they have a very nice flavor but the heat is not lasting.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 4/10
Bottom Line: Good flavor, some spice.

Snack #89- Herr's Hot Cheese Curls

Snack #89- Herr's Hot Cheese Curls

These cheese curls are made with real cheese and have a smoky, bbq flavor as well. They are made of corn but taste like potatoes, strangely enough. They are fairly spicy, especially for a cheese curl, which often seem to be overwhelmingly cheesy but not so spicy. So congratulations, Herr's, you managed to make an extra cheesy cheese curl that also stands up to the spicy potato chip competition.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 6/10
Bottom Line: Surprise spice in a standard cheese curl.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Snack #88 - Wingers Fiery Buffalo Bleu

Snack #88 - Wingers Fiery Buffalo Bleu

Well these are pretty weird. Shaped like little chicken drumsticks, these wingers are crunchy, but surprisingly hollow when you bite in. They sort of have the consistency of a dried out biodegradable packing peanut (don't ask, I had a very weird middle school science teacher).

While not that fiery - this made even more disappointing given their 5 of 5 heat index rating - they manage to capture the tang of blue cheese better than any other buffalo wing flavored snack I've tried. Unfortunately, it ends up just tasting like bleu cheese with a kick.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 5/10

Bottom Line: blue cheese packing peanuts

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Snack #87 - Flat Earth Baked Veggie Crisps Spicy Salsa

Flat Earth Baked Veggie Crisps Spicy Salsa

At first I was a little hesitant - a chip that's healthy? Couldn't possibly taste good. The only veggie that chips should be made from is a potato. However, these veggie "crisps" were really good, and maybe even a little better for you, who knows. The chips, while crispy like a reformulated potato chip (think thick Pringles), had some nice background notes of spinach and red pepper. This combined with the spicy-ish salsa taste. It was honestly a little hard to tell what flavor came from the chips and what was due to the flavoring on the chips.

Also, as I perused the ingredients as I always do before trying a bag of spicy snacks, I notice it contains cream cheese... Weird, but delicious. A nice creamy flavor in addition to the salsa. Kind of like Mexican dip on a chip.

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

Bottom Line: Delicious and Nutritious?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Snack #86 - Fritos Brand McGraw's Spicy Jalapeño

Fritos Brand McGraw's Spicy Jalapeño

Tim McGraw has a flavor??? And apparently he thinks he's pretty spicy. As a less-than-avid country music fan (read: I hate country music), I'm not sure if it's a common occurrence to have country music singers brand their own flavor of chips, but I thought it was pretty weird. Either way, the man can make a Frito. His sense of spiciness may be a little off though. These had the nice corn taste of a Frito with a sour cream and onion-type flavor. There was just the faintest bit of heat if I really concentrated, but mostly just sour cream and onion.

Also, I realized that this is one of many "jalapeño" flavored chips that winds up as a sour cream and onion knock-off...what gives? Let me know if you have any idea, because I missed the memo where sour cream and onion became synonymous with spicy.

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

Bottom Line: Tim McGraw: hot music (??), mild chips.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Snack #85- Señorial Quesifritos Chilteado Expandido Frito de Maíz (spicy corn crunchies)

Señorial Quesifritos Chilteado Expandido Frito de Maíz (spicy corn crunchies)

I have no idea what Chilteado means but the packaging on these Guatemalan snacks looked spicy so I had to test them out. They look like Cheetos and taste strongly of smoke flavoring and spice. They also have sweet undertones that taste somehow like artificial tomato flavoring. The smoky flavor is overwhelming and fake but the bitter heat that comes through is fairly powerful. There is a surprising complexity to the flavor of these snacks but in my opinion they are not very delicious. Guatemala does seem to trump Costa Rica in levels of heat, however.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 4/10
Bottom Line: Spicy and smoky.

Snack #84- Taco del Rancho Tortillas Fritas de Maíz Picante (spicy corn chips)

Taco del Rancho Tortillas Fritas de Maíz Picante

These Guatemalan version of Fritos (yes, there are many varieties of corn chips here) are actually successful where the others fail- the spice can be tasted. It may have something to do with the relatively short list of ingredients; skipping all the weird chemicals, these chips are made of corn, oil, and chile. The pepper flavor really stands out and tastes natural. It is not a strong heat, but compared to most Central American claims, they are one of the spicier snacks I’ve tested. Success!

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 3/10
Bottom Line: A Central American snack with real heat!

Snack #83- Cronchy Chips Trocitos de Maíz Salsa Roja (red salsa corn chips)

Cronchy Chips Trocitos de Maíz Salsa Roja (red salsa corn chips)

Apparently the word ‘trocito’ is difficult to translate into English- basically these also looks like Fritos. They have an ugly artificial orange coating that would indicate a spicy, chili-flavored coating but it the flavor doesn’t come through. They taste extremely artificial, almost like the corn flavor itself is fake on the chip. Maybe it is a fake cheese flavor but it just tastes pretty horrible. And they are not spicy at all, despite having jalapeño powder in the ingredient list. They are not very crunchy either, although I may have gotten a slightly stale bag.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 0/10
Bottom Line: Gross.

Snack #82- TorTrix Picante Frituras de Maíz (spicy corn fritters)

TorTrix Picante Frituras de Maíz (spicy corn fritters)

These Guatemalan treats have the texture and taste of Fritos and basically taste like a normal Frito without any extra spice. They are a nice snack; light and crispy and fairly flavorful, just not spicy. The ingredients claim they include chile but overall it is not noticeable. They are a little sweet and a little salty- overall and nice snack but not deserving of the flavor ‘picante’.

Rating on the Spice-O-Meter: 0/10
Bottom Line: Crispy but no spice.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Snack #81 - Doritos Late Night Last Call Jalapeno Poppers

A friend of mine was so kind as to pick these up thinking of me. I had never seen the "late night" variety of Doritos and after eating a few was convinced he had found a bag that had been lying around since 1980. I know something can't "taste" stale, but these really did. They were fresh and crunchy, but something about them just tasted old. Basically they tasted like old spicy Doritos, but worse. The good people at Doritos somehow managed to make their cheese flavor taste more fake. And to this they added a little heat - the jalapeno part, I suppose. Since jalapeno poppers are just deep fried cheese-stuffed jalapenos, I guess they got the flavor right. It was just a really yucky rendition of the bar staple.

Also, sorry for the lack of picture. They look like regular Doritos.

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

Bottom Line: don't eat these, even late night

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Snack #80 - Corn Nutz Chile Picante

From deep within the southern Midwest comes this rather weird corn nut variety. The bag says chile picante, but it tastes more like smoked paprika and lemon juice. And corn - the corn part of the nut really is a pretty dominant flavor once whatever flavor they sprinkle on it wears off. Unfortunately the flavor never gets very "picante" at all, and that weird lemony flavor persisted (I say weird because there is nothing in the ingredients that remotely looks like lemon or citric acid...). As far as texture goes, the nut(z?) are nice and crunchy, like accidentally crack a filling crunchy.

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

Bottom Line: a corn-nutty snack