Potato Chip Snack Attack

Eat potato chips on a huge sandwichWhat do I wear when I snack? “Mushroom beret” by Oska, Marimekko blouse, Custo Barcelona long sleeve tshirt, vintage brooch, Illamasqua nail polish in “Rare.”

My first childhood memory of heavy duty salt intake was eating a smoked Polish ham and cheese sandwich. After that “aha” moment, I developed a fondness for salt, which I preferred to sweets. I never threw a temper tantrum when my mom curtailed some sugar fixes. But when she wouldn’t buy me a can of flavored Pringles, I had a meltdown and sobbed. It was as if she tossed my Tiffany doll with rotating scalp into the trash compacter. As a single parent overwhelmed and embarrassed by an annoying and relentless child, she finally gave in. Hence the origins of my salt cravings, enough to maintain sodium levels in Utah’s Salt Lake.

From that pivotal day, I became addicted to salty snacks. Officially, I became a CHIPHEAD. I have daily snack attacks and usually satiate my need for salt with fistfuls of popcorn, potato chips, pork rinds or rolled up wads of cold cuts.

A couple of years ago I read about a business called Anchor Food Finds which sells uncommon potato chips from the US and offers a POTATO CHIP CLUB OF THE MONTH program. I was in such disbelief that I reread the article a couple of times. I shook my head and exclaimed, “Only in America.” Faster than a tear into a bag of Wise, I clicked on their site and spent a good half hour studying all their potato chip offerings. The clean and enticing website design further convinced me to join the club. As a web designer, I am especially attuned to the way a business conveys its message through good design. They WOWED me!

Potato Chip Club of the Month

A box full of joy, love and magic waiting to be ingested, photographed and extolled.

The monthly subscription of $30 includes ten 1.5oz. bags of many varieties of chips. Most of the potato chips come from small independently owned companies who take an artisanal approach in creating their versions of this popular American snack food. Anchor Food sends your order so promptly, that delivery is often within two days.

This month’s shipment contained many red colored bags, some with vintage labeling harkening back to a time when salt was not demonized. To begin my critique, I set a pitcher of Coconut water on my kitchen table along with pen and paper. Whereupon, I RIPPED into my first bag like a barbarian.

Here’s my review of my sodium intake Bacchanal:

Ole Salty’s regular salt – I love the Ole Salty weathered sea urchin mascot on the bag front. What is he hollering? “Heh, I lost my peg leg at sea in a drunken stupor, fell overboard and luckily was resuscitated by a mermaid. I am back ashore because I need more casks to fill with cheap bourbon.” Medium crunch texture and disarmingly unsalty for a salt-flavored chip. They are your basic, no nonsense chip, fried in soybean oil. The soybean factor is not a selling point for me as it’s another overly subsidized crop that winds up in too many food sources. Given the lack of saltiness for a salt chip, I would rename it “Ole Salty’s Edema-free Salt Flavor Chip.”

Old Saltys Potato Chips

California Chips Honey BBQ – Don’t you conjure up sunshine, healthy eating and Katy Perry? These all natural chips are without trans fat, gluten free, vegetable oils, no msg, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Not too sweet and with a balanced smokey flavor which was not overwhelming. However, it skewed low on that singular important characteristic, crunch. In my opinion, I declare these chips to resemble Lay’s® rather than an artisanal brand. They’re fresh but also a bit too oily.

Good Health Kettle style Avocado Oil Chips – Now this is a great chip! A perfect weight, not oily, nice texture and the right amount of sea salt earns this chip a “Michelin Star Chip”. But, what I love most is that Good Health used few ingredients to create a delicious chip. Ingredients: potatoes, avocado oil and sea salt. I love its simplicity.

Mrs. Fischer’s Chips – Upon first glance at Mrs. Fischer’s company logo and overall package design, it looks like she hasn’t redesigned it since its initial launch in 1932. I find that charming and love its nostalgic appeal. I especially like that there is a illustration of a potato chip man with top hat dancing in a dizzying circle with some kids. I would love to bring that logo to life, hold his salty, hydrogenated oiled, hickory smoked hands, while doing a jig with him. Once I bid him farewell, I will remind him he needs to get rid of the MSG in the product he represents.

Mrs. Fisher's Chips Bag

Tri-Sum potato chips -This isn’t the perfect chip–a little too salty, oily, but the potatoes have a nice flavor. The best part of this chip is the nostalgic designed bag. I love the illustrated floating male head wearing a billowy chef’s hat in the bottom right corner. Tri-Sum touts itself as “America’s First Potato Chip” since 1908. The illustration on the top of the bag of a horse drawn buggy delivering chips to your front porch, makes me long for a time when horses were the main cog in our mass-transit system. Today, they can be found on a Hedge Fund Manager’s Montana ranch or on our plate in a fast food restaurant near you. I do give this an “A” for package design.

Tri-Sum Potato Chips

Grippo’s Chips – The taste is similar to the Tri-Sun chip. They are fried in hydrogenated oils and are a bit greasy, so I wouldn’t buy them again. I do love the design of the bag, though.

Grippo's Potato Chips Bag

Michael Season’s Gourmet Kettle Cooked Jalapeno Chips – I was hesitant to sample these based on their 40% reduction in fat and sodium. Low fat anything is an affront to the senses and should be expunged from the salty snack industry. Food should be eaten full fat or not at all. In this country, there are too many choices in the food industry and consumers dictate what ends up on our plate. I wish Americans would lose their appetite for things they perceive as “low-fat, therefore healthy” where on the contrary, the absence of fat and salt compromises flavor and leaves us unsatiated. As for these chips, the Japlapeno flavor is medium with the right amount of lingering punch, but the crunch is lacking, perhaps from the lack of oil. For a fat reduced chip, they did a great job. However, I hope they won’t explore the “baked chip” market–one that should be illegal or at least taxed at 90%, and ultimately thrown into an industrial size composter.

Michael's reduced fat Kettle Jalapeno Chips

Sandwich piled with potato chips

I love sandwiches and what better way to enjoy one than with a variety of chips piled high? One variety doesn’t work for me. I not only need at least 3 kinds of chips, but also must experience an explosion of CRUNCH in my head. My favorite type of sandwich contains 3 types of ham, bread whose exterior is crunchy with an inner gooey texture, mesclun greens, roasted red peppers, red onions, organic full fat mayo, and paper thin slivers of overlapping extra sharp cheddar.

This month’s samplings were a treat. I have 3 weeks remaining to rehabilitate myself from gorging enough salt to coat Madison Avenue’s wintry black iced pavement (the salting prevents all the Platform-shoe-wearing-doyennes from skidding and cracking their skulls.)

A word of caution – don’t eat all ten bags in a few days’ span as I did. Luckily, I have good genes and don’t wake up with spongy cankles. Coconut water is my saving grace and hydrates me to acceptable levels.

I found a quote from a new scientific study on potato chip addiction which substantiates my obsession:

 “In a new study, published recently in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, California researchers have discovered that receptors in our mouths, upon coming into contact with fat, triggering a powerful addiction-type mechanism in our guts. Essentially it activates cannabis-like compounds in our body. Fat, therefore, makes us happy and we want more…” (From chron.com July, 2011.)

This post was a real pleasure to research, develop and write. I ingested more oil than the gas tank capacity of a Cadillac Escalade commandeered by a ponytailed, baseball-hatted- crazed uber-mother-self-righteous-texting-and-driving-in Bergen County, NJ. I anticipate a quadruple bypass by year’s end if I continue taste-testing potato chips. Please, please, please help me find a new addiction! It’ll be good for my health and yours!

Styled by Jamie Kreitman®