Potato Chip Review #1: Jalapeño Kettle Chips
To my coworkers and those that voted in the poll months ago, welcome to the first exciting installment of POTATOCHIP REVIEWS! The flavor of the day is Jalapeño kettle chips.
First, like any other obnoxiously long food blog let's dive into the history of the Kettle brand.
The company was founded by Cameron Healy in 1978 under the name "N.S. Khalsa Company" but didn't produce its first line of chips until 1982.
In 2006 the company was sold to Lion Capital LLP, a British private equity firm founded in 2004. Lion Capital paid $280-320 million.
From 2010 to 2016 N.S. Khalsa company was owned by Diamond Foods (Founded in 1912 but ceased existing in 2016)
In March 2018 the Camden, New Jersey-based Campbell Soup Company purchased the company, which is now known as Kettle Foods, Inc.
HOW THEY'RE MADE
The company is based in Salem, Oregon. Russet Burbank Potatoes (high sugar) are scrubbed down and hand yeeted into an Auger. The auger shoves the unpeeled potatoes through a slicing blade. They become cut chips that are yeeted into a vat of bubbling hot, safflower oil. Specialized chip chefs keep the chips moving while they're cooking in the oil by raking the chips. This prevents them from sticking together.
A shaker conveyer carries the chips to an optisort machine which discards chips that are too dark. The chips that passed inspection go through a seasoning drum and are powdered with flavor.
According to taquitos.net There are, or perhaps have been 89 flavors. On Kettle's actual website the chips are currently sorted into four categories. Featured, Classic, Krinkle and Organic.
There are 14 options, not including variety packs for Classic.
4 options for Krinkle cut
3 options for Organic.
Now let's get into what you really came here for. My roast for the particular flavor pictured above.
JUST JANEJIRA'S REVIEW CATEGORIES EXPLAINED
Flavor Memorability - Can I remember the taste long after I've had it? Or do I forget about it after a day?
Texture - My fellow Neurodivergents know when it comes to food texture is everything. Texture determines if this snack is worth repeatedly eating.
Taste - Does it actually have flavor, or does it have the idea of a flavor? Is it so good I would bring it to parties or is it so bad I wouldn't even want to share it with anyone other than my very few enemies?
Dip Dependent? - Is it a strong independent chip that don't need a dip to be good? Or does it need to be paired with a dip in order for me to even consider buying it?
Mess Scale - Straightforward. How messy of a chip is it?
It's been a few days and I actually do faintly remember the flavor and the level of disappointment I felt when it wasn't as spicy as Tim's jalapeño chips. Because the brand is Kettle I can easily remember that one single chip packs about as much flavor and crunch as about a handful of lays. To me Kettle's texture is more memorable than the flavor.
I don't eat this flavor often but every time I do it's because I think "Oh, I don't think I've tried that before." and then I taste it and think "Oh wait, I have. I swear it was stronger last time."
TEXTURE: Thick but not too thick
Personally, I wouldn't be able to eat these in a handful. It's more of a one to two at a time kind of chip before my sensory says OW WTF. When the chip splits in my mouth it isn't sharp like Lays Ruffles. The crunch factor is definitely there but it's not overwhelmingly loud. The surface is rough which makes sense considering the process it's been through.
TASTE: Could be hotter
If you are like me and you wish to be a spice connoisseur but can only handle spice in the tiniest of increments this flavor won't hurt you, but it won't deliver if you're expecting true FLMAING HOT vibes. I was hoping to have to chug a whole bottle of water from the heat but instead I drank half a bottle because of the salt. The taste wasn't strong enough to linger. I would say it was a light taste, great for summer. I always come back to this flavor
NO NEED FOR DIP BUT WOULD RECOMMEND A SANDWICH
Kettle Chips aren't usually known for being dependent on dip nor have I ever gone out of my way to pair it with any. I do think it would work well with a thicker dip. The chip doesn't have as strong a flavor as say, the Hawaiian style kettle chips so it wouldn't overpower any dip but rather be complimented by one. However, if you crush these up and put them on jalapeno poppers there's enough flavor that you'll notice. (10/10 would recommend)
As a standalone I don't think I could finish a family sized bag without the aid of sandwich. I found myself getting tired of the taste after a while before I needed to use my subway sandwich as a palette cleanser. I like to put these chips inside most of my sandwiches and for reasons I do not understand, it brings out the chip flavor.
3.5/5 ON THE MESS SCALE
A 5 on this scale is cheeto and a 1 on this scale is little to no crumbs and or grease. This chip falls in the middle because although it's not crumbly and fragile like most thin chips and my hands didn't feel like they were oiled up and greased like the spicy men in Jenna Moreci's book The Savior's Champion there were salty particles flying everywhere that went unnoticed until I actively looked for them.
Would I bring these chips to parties if I were a regular party goer and someone asked me to bring a snack? If I couldn't find Tim's YES. These would pair well with whatever other food is there and if there were leftovers I could pair them with my sandwiches after. Kettle chips in general are iconic and at least give the illusion of healthy.
After the next three reviews I will go over my Staff's Favorites. I've been slowly but surely asking every single employee at my work what their favorite chip is because # content!
If I haven't already asked you though comment your favorite chip or a chip you would like to hear my thoughts on.
Wikipedia contributors. “Kettle Foods.” Wikipedia, 20 Aug. 2022, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kettle_Foods.
“How Kettle Cooked Potato Chips Are Made | Unwrapped | Food Network.” YouTube, 15 June 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCIoNspDJvU.