18 February, 2008

Miss Vickie's Potato Chips

Miss Vickie's, a Canadian potato chip brand now owned by Frito-Lay, Inc., is a kettle-style chip that claims to be cooked in small batches.

Like most kettle-style chips, they're thick cut, very crunchy, and somewhat more greasy than their standard counterparts. And like other Frito-Lay chips they have a mysteriously "sweet" taste to them (mysterious because sweeteners are never listed on the ingredients, yet one bite of a Lays potato chip and you know it's a Lays because of that sugary aftertaste.)

As chips go, Miss Vickie's are decidedly ordinary. They're no better than Cape Cod chips or Grandma Utz's Old Fashioned chips, both of which are also "kettle" brands, and they may even be at a disadvantage, since Utz chips are very fresh-tasting and "potato-y" and Miss Vickie's are kind of, you know, run-of-the-mill.

Though I've never yet seen a bag of Miss Vickie's chips in a supermarket, the single-serving sized bags are sold in vending machines, convenience stores, and at Subway sandwich shops around here and they do pretty well. Part of that might be due to the number of flavors they come in (there are eleven in all) and part might be the distribution muscle of Frito-Lay. But the quietly elegant packaging probably catches more than a few eyes. The matte-finish screen-printed mylar and bilingual labelling is admittedly attractive, and then there's that "farm-fresh" nonsense (as though anyone believes a mass-market chip is made anywhere but in a factory these days.)

Here's a listing of the flavors available; any of them that I've tried have short reviews, the others are ones I haven't yet tasted:
  • Original Recipe - Thick, greasy, salty, mostly taste like potato-flavored oil; very crunchy.
  • Jalapeno - Exactly what one would expect, medium-level heat mostly from addition of cayenne pepper with green jalapenos adding a good deal of grassy taste and little extra fire. Got these at Subway to accompany a sandwich, and I have to admit they went well with my sub.
  • Sea Salt and Malt Vinegar - Good vinegar tang, but too much salt; potato flavor heavily masked.
  • Mesquite BBQ - Completely unexceptional, this was a dead-average chip with fake BBQ flavoring. I hate "BBQ flavored" anything. Including these crappy chips.
  • Sweet Chili & Sour Cream - Pronounced sweet-paprika flavor with undertones of sour milk. Not that impressive, but different enough to be interesting.
  • Lime & Black Pepper - Good, fruity black pepper taste; lime was a lot like the vinegar but with a hint of citrus; would have been better as a simple "Black Pepper" chip.
  • Honey & Roasted Garlic
  • Roasted Red Pepper Grill
  • Vintage Cheddar & Red Onion
  • Roasted Garlic & Herb
  • Harvest Onion
Final verdict: Miss Vickie's chips aren't special enough for me to actively seek them out. But the flavors are, for the most part, unique and if they are on the rack alongside another standard chip, I'll buy a Miss Vickie's flavor that I haven't yet tried just for the sake of variety.

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