17 January, 2011

Cape Cod Potato Chips & The Big Game Chip Switch

For several years, Maryanne and I have been buying Cape Cod's 40% Reduced Fat potato chips.  We had first tried them at a friend's house and were quite impressed that they could be so delicious - and so indistinguishable from standard kettle cooked chips.

Recently, Cape Cod has introduced two new flavors of chip to their 40% Reduced Fat lineup - Sea Salt and Vinegar and Sweet Mesquite Barbecue - and they're kicking off publicity for them with an event they call the Big Game Chip Switch. 

The idea is to offer up to your guests unmarked bowls of both regular and 40% Reduced Fat versions of Cape Cod chips and see if anyone can really tell the difference.  They've even set up a website - www.BigGameChipSwitch.com - where you can share lulzworthy stories of fooling your friends and, most importantly, enter to win a year's supply of Cape Cod Potato Chips.  Timing this activity for that "Big Football Game" is a great idea - it's estimated that grazing Americans will nom 11 million pounds of potato chips during that single broadcast.

Late last week, FedEx showed up at my door with a big box.  Inside there were six bags of Cape Cod Potato Chips (one bag each of their 40% Reduced Fat chip flavors, and one bag each of the corresponding Classic chips) along with a letter explaining the whole Chip Switch thing and asking if we'd mind doing a Chip Switch and writing about it.  Since we were having a bunch of people over for dinner on Sunday, we thought it would be a hoot.   So as our guests arrived, we put out the various Cape Cod chips in a blind tasting and asked everyone if they could tell which ones were the reduced fat versions.  Our tasters ranged in age from my 8-year-old granddaughter to my you'd-never-know-she-was-in-her-70's mom, so we had a good spectrum of palates here.

All tastings were done double-blind:  Identical serving pieces were marked on the bottom where the marks couldn't be seen.  The chips were poured out in the kitchen and handed off to someone else who didn't know which was which and who randomly placed them on the dining room table so that the person in the kitchen would also not know which bowl had been filled with which chip.

Photo by Cape Cod Potato Chips
The Sea Salt and Vinegar chips were the first ones we served.  I love vinegar chips - they're my second-favorite flavor behind cracked pepper - and apparently, everyone but the kids (who gamely tried them before announcing that the vinegar wasn't exactly to their liking) enjoyed them, too.  And every single person correctly identified the classic chips over the Reduced Fat version!  No one could really put their finger on exactly how they could tell them apart, but we decided it was probably because vinegar has a way of cutting through fat anyway, and the subtle flavor and mouthfeel differences between the two were enough to tip everyone off.  One thing I should mention, however:  Even though everyone could tell the difference between the classic Sea Salt & Vinegar chips and the 40% Reduced Fat Seas Salt & Vinegar chips, there were no preferences for one over the other - they liked the flavor equally.

This first tasting set the stage for lulz, since now everyone figured that they'd be able to identify the Reduced Fat chips easily after their initial triumph.  Since Maryanne and I have been buying the Reduced Fat original chips for years and have never been able to tell the difference, we were grinning when we set them out as the next tasting.  Everyone had some chips and voiced their opinions of which one was which before the Big Reveal...and no one got it right!  The room erupted into laughter when my brother-in-law Jim yelled out in surprise, "No way!  Those can't be the low fat chips, they're too good!"

By the time the Sweet Mesquite Barbecue chips came out, everyone was laughing and joking about whether they'd be able to tell them apart and were talking about chips and snacks in general.  Barbecue chips are an especial favorite of 8-year-old Emily, who made no secret about her preference and her delight in having two bowls of her faves placed on the table.  "These are awesome," she said, "I don't think they're different at all.  I bet these are the same chips."  By this time, the adults were carefully noshing, trying their best to figure out which chip was which, but again the tasters were met with total failure.  A few people followed Emily's cue and admitted they couldn't tell which was which, but those who said they could identify the Reduced Fat chips were again universally wrong.

Cape Cod is proud of coming up with a reduced fat chip that they say is pretty much indistinguishable from classically-made chips, and justifiably so.  We had a great time doing the Chip Switch on our family and friends.  It got our dinner party off to a roaring fun start, and it got our guests buzzing about Cape Cod chips (which is what the Cape Cod folks intended, I'm sure) even if they were able to tell which of the vinegar chips were the new version.  


Cape Cod Potato Chip's website - check out the many varieties and flavors of Cape Cod chips and popcorn.

Cape Cod's Big Game Chip Switch website - Read about the Chip Switch promo, share your own Chip Switch stories, and enter for a chance to win a year's supply of Cape Cod Potato Chips.


Rodzilla said...

I noticed that the 40% reduction is merely 8g to 6g of fat. I think they could get away with just making their regular versions lighter.

dale said...

The regular 40% have been our favorite chips for years.

Dave said...

@dale - You and Gail were the ones who first convinced Maryanne and I to try the 40% Reduced Fat chips back a few years ago.

Mar said...

If only Cape Cod would come out with a 40% Robust Russets, so I could compare it with the 10 chips I have left of my last bag of Robust Russets, I would be in 7th heaven!