18 February, 2009

Wise Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

I had no idea what I was in for when I bought a couple of bags of Wise Kettle Cooked chips at the local supermarket. I hadn't eaten Wise chips in perhaps 35 years - when I was a kid regular Wise chips were the greasiest, most disgusting chips on the market, with lots of dark-brown burnt chips, oily residue, and plenty of crumbs. I hated them, and I always bought the far superior State Line potato chips that were made just two towns over in Wilbraham, MA.

The State Line factory is long gone and there aren't any more local chips made in my part of New England these days. My favorite chip brands now are Utz and Herr's, but I'm still open to suggestions, and when I saw that Wise has a kettle chip available, I thought it might be time to stop ignoring them and give them a taste. I chose a standard, all-natural chip as a baseline, and a racier jalapeno flavor for a touch of heat.

The All-Natural chips are pretty good. Part of that is probably the presentation - Wise got wise and is using the matte-finish mylar bags for the kettle cooked stuff, just like Miss Vickie and many other "premium" brands. I don't know if this actually makes a difference in the flavor, but this type of packaging does lend an air of "superior quality," even if that air is somewhat imaginary. The chips themselves are no more greasy than any other kettle chips (hooray!) and very flavorful, if a bit on the salty side. They compare favorably with brands I've been more inclined to buy, such as Cape Cod or Grandma Utz.

The Jalapeno chips are also fairly decent. Not very hot initially, but they have a decent burn that builds as one chomps through the snack-sized bag. It was never really too much for me, but I did get a bit of the ol' familiar hairline perspiration breakout. Their biggest disadvantage? That nasty grassy flavor that jalapenos are so famous for. These chips supplied plenty of it. I would buy them again, but I think it would really be the nazz if a chip company tried out an ancho- or even a habanero-spiked chip.


Wise Foods Inc. website. After 35 years, I could be persuaded to try a few of their other products too. Maybe they're doing something different.

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