15 September, 2009

Cape Cod Potato Chips - New Flavors and Old Favorites

A short time ago, the friendly folks at Cape Cod Potato Chips sent me a box of assorted varieties of chips and popcorns to sample and review. The popcorn was a big hit with my friends and family. It took us a little longer to try all of the potato chip flavors - the package included old favorites as well as tasty new ones - but after sharing the deliciousness for the past couple of weeks, I'm ready to tell you about Cape Cod's flavors.

Classic and 40% Reduced Fat: When I was a kid, just learning how to cook, I heard the story about how potato chips were "invented." You've probably heard it too: George Crum, a chef in Saratoga Springs NY, was fed up with a restaurant patron who kept sending back his fried potatoes complaining they were too thick and soggy. Chef Crum, thoroughly pissed off, sliced the final batch paper-thin and fried them so crispy they couldn't be eaten with a fork. The diner loved them and "Saratoga Chips" were born. That story inspired me to try to make my own potato chips in the kitchen; they were pretty good but took a lot of work for an impatient teenager, so I only cooked my own a few times a year.

I was in my twenties when I first tried Cape Cod's Classic chips - thick cut and kettle cooked, with just the right amount of salt added to enhance the flavor. I think they were the first commercial "kettle" style potato chip I'd ever tried, and they were great. I'm happy to say that their quality has never wavered - every time I've opened a bag of Cape Cod Classic chips, they've been as good as the first bag I ever dug into in the mid-80's.

A couple of years ago, some friends suggested I try the 40% Reduced Fat version of the Classic chips. The Reduced Fat version is truly amazing; Cape Cod has managed to remove almost have the fat from their chip without any reduction at all in flavor, quality, or mouthfeel. Seriously, it is extremely difficult - if not impossible - to tell the difference between the two in a blind tasting. If you love your potato chips but need to cut down on your fat intake, Cape Cod's 40% Reduced Fat chips can help you.

Robust Russet: Russet potatoes, having a higher sugar content than some other varieties, cook up darker and more flavorful than regular chips. Cape Cod's Robust Russet chips are Lynnafred's favorites; she like the full-bodied flavor and strong crunch. I like them because the flavor stands up well and doesn't get "lost" when enjoying chips 'n' dips. If you're a fan of lightly cooked chips, leave these on the shelf. Cape Cod says people either "love them or hate them" and if you cant crunch into a darker chip without thinking "burnt," these just aren't for you.

New Buttermilk Ranch was an instant favorite with everyone who tried it. Not too salty with a delicious, tangy Ranch flavor, this was the first bag we opened (to accompany bacon-cheeseburgers for supper) and that bag never saw the dawn. I loved them with a simple sour cream dip - the chips magically turned it into Ranch dip! - while Lynnafred and my wife Maryanne enjoyed them right out of the bag. They were also pretty damn good added atop deli-sliced turkey in a turkey sandwich (adding both taste and crunch.) Don't give me that look - you know you're going to try it now that I gave you the idea.

Sea Salt and Vinegar: This is one of my all-time favorite potato chip flavors - I love the sharp, acidic taste of vinegar (and that's why I'm such a fan of all kinds of pickles.) Vinegar is a natural enhancement for potatoes, and Cape God gets the balance just right with these chips. There's just enough vinegar to "sharpen the edges" and not so much that the flavor overpowers the spuds. Probably my favorite of the flavored varieties.

Cheddar Jack and Sour Cream: These cheesy chips are one of Lynnafred's favorites. The combination of sour cream and cheddar works well together and give the chips a flavor very much like Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.

Sweet Mesquite Barbecue: Normally, I hate barbecue-flavored potato chips, and I can truly say that I would never - ever - have gone out and bought this variety if Cape Cod hadn't sent a bag for review. What a surprise to find out how good these were! Sweet and spicy, with a delicious tomato background, the smoky mesquite flavor is mellow and soft-edged. Smoke flavoring is too often applied with a heavy hand, leaving an "ashtray" flavor, but not with these chips. Maryanne mentioned that they'd be great with grilled burgers, and I agree. Sweet Mesquite Barbecue chips are winners.

Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper: There are a lot of flavor notes going on in these chips - sweet, salty, pepper, garlic I think, a hint of buttermilk - and I just don't understand why chip manufacturers can't simply make a chip with salt and black pepper and that's it. I would love a chip like that, but I haven't been able to find one (check the ingredient labels and you'll see.)

Parmesan and Roasted Garlic: From the instant the bag is opened, there is no doubt that mellow roasted garlic is the foremost flavor in this chip, and the parmesan cheese takes a back seat to it. I couldn't believe how polarizing this flavor was when I put them out at a party - people either loved them and went back for seconds by the handful, or they hated them - hated the very smell of them and wouldn't take more than a nibble for the sake of tasting a sample. I thought they were pretty good. They went great with a sliced-pork-roast sandwich.

Jalapeno and Aged Cheddar: I liked these. The cheddar flavor went nicely with the jalapeno heat, which gave a mild-to-medium burn and a long, lingering warm finish. (These chips weren't included with the review package I recieved, so I went out and bought a bag. Glad I did.)

I hope the new flavors are well-received and become as successful as the old favorites. Cape Cod makes great snacks and they're always a top choice when I'm looking for kettle chips.


Cape Cod Potato Chips website

Direct link to Cape Cod's potato chip page.



Jennette said...

I love the cheddar flavor so much, it inspired a song parody. It can be hard to find in NYC.


Thanks for the report!

Seth said...

Hi was following something random I forget now and found your site and noticed you have as your blog banner a table scene photo of what is def. a plate of what would y'all Americans call it? Lobster? (We here in New Zealand call it "Crayfish") and what I think is possibly Abalone? We call it "Paua" here in NZ a name from the local language of Maori. Just wondering if I'm right or not and if you come from the West Coast where I understand abalone and lobster were once taken in the wild by freedivers. That is what my brother and I are interested in and do often and have been lots of late as our southern hemisph. summer is just beginning. We have been catching a lot of crayfish and paua and expect to be spearing fish soon as the water warms up some more and the fish return from northern waters. Its cool that the west coast of the US which shares its waters/faces the pacific has these relatives of the same species found in Japan, Australia, South Africa and NZ, although I think stocks are almost depleted in SA, CA and Japan now. Anyhow if you want to see some images I'd be happy to send them to you. We slice paua/abalone thinly and use a haaawt skillet to fry it with butter, garlic or onion, white wine and pepper. Also we sometimes cook them whole (after of course gutting and preparing) as a steak. I've heard of wontons being made of paua and of course minced paua patties which are very agreeable. Crayfish we just boil and eat rather plainly with sweet chill perhaps amongst other sauces. Any further recommendations for other ways in which to prepare these two foods would be much appreciated. My name is Seth and my email is: ezm8zzz@gmail.com. Peace Dave.

del monte sweet peas 15oz said...

i found some capecod chips on my vacation from the midwest to the west coast this summer. VERY tastey! comparable to Dakota Style chips (super crunchy) made here in South Dakota.