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Sunday, 19 October 2014

Ted and the Kings of Crispland ...


.. yes it's really true that 6.2 billion packets of crisps are consumed in the UK each year, that’s around 150 packets for each and every one of us!! Surprisingly (to me anyway) they were actually invented in America, where they are called “potato chips”. According to well-informed sources it was a chap called George Crum who created the original recipe back in 1853 in Saratoga Springs, New York. The global market for these little beauties is worth around US$ 20 billion a year (boy am I in the wrong job) and accounts for just short of 40% of the total snacks market.

They appear in almost every country in some form or other, often with their own local names and a range of distinctive and national flavours supplementing the more established and traditional selection. Flavours like guacamole, dill pickle, tomato ketchup, jerk chicken, wasabi, barbeque, paprika, chilli, scallop, teriyaki, sausage, chutney, and even marmite, the list seems almost endless. The multitude of flavourings available today were made possible courtesy of a little crisp flavouring technique patented in the 1950’s by an Irishman called yes .. Joe “Spud”  Murphy, owner of the Tayto crisp company.  Before Spud (BS) the choice of flavours was well plain and plainer with salt ...

Other “improvements” on the original have had more to do with the packaging, with the aim of trying to keep them as fresh and unbroken as possible. Today they are packed in plastic bags and filled with nitrogen just before sealing, although I fear nothing offers fool proof protection against a supermarket shelf stacker on a bad day after their football team has lost.

With this great bounty available I decided we had to have a crisp challenge and so I assembled a crack team of top tasters to put some crisps through their paces. Here they are the “Kings of Crispland” about to embark on their mission.

Twelve packets to be rated 1 (bad) to 5 (great) by look, taste and texture. A couple of packets from outside the UK, Spain and South Africa, just to keep things a bit global. I have included the handwritten results table for your ongoing analysis and enjoyment, but a couple of general comments first. We did an “averaging” of the scores to avoid punch ups, whether you did or didn’t like the flavour(s) being tasted had a significant impact on score, and we all fell for a big manly looking nicely tanned ridge cut flame grilled steak crisp half way through, and on reflection now think it is scored a point too high. 

And finally … I can't go without saying this ... anything that is made by extruding or pressing potato “dough” into a uniform size, shape and texture (like Pringles) should be run out of town for registering off the boring scale ... and that's the least of their many sins against crisps!

7 comments:

Adullamite said...

No wonder the nation is fat!

Luis Gomez said...

Great post.

Sharon Anck said...

You've mentioned some flavors here that I've never heard of before. I'd give a few of those a try for sure.

William Kendall said...

They're chips in Canada as well. I can't recall the last time I ate any.

Jack said...

Why didn't you ask me, Ted? I could have told you which are best, much easier than using a panel.

Bill Nicholls said...

Persoanly I would like the original Smiths crisps with the Blue Salt twist back. Pitty they lostthe tools to do the job.

Harm van Eijnsbergen said...

Nice one and some amazing facts about 'crisps' ... or should it be 'chips' which makes me wonder why they are called crisps in England if they were invented in the US and they are called chips there and as it seems in more countries?

Being Dutch my all time favourite is still Smiths (now Lays) 'Paprika Super Chips' a crispy McCoys style crisp or should I say chip ;-)

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