Taste Test: Walkers Potato Crisps
by Josh Modell
April 8th, 2008
Due to popular demand and the fact that we love trying weird foods and candies, The A.V. Club will now regularly feature "Taste Tests." Feel free to suggest disgusting and/or delicious new edibles for future installments: E-mail us at email@example.com.
Various flavored Walkers potato chips from England, $1 per bag
The third thing Americans know about Great Britain, after The Beatles and The Stones, is that Brits like weird-flavored potato chips. (And they call them "crisps"; isn't that adorable?) Don't get me wrong, Americans savor stupid flavors, too, but for some reason, the Brits tend toward flavors that resemble bits of an actual meal rather than, y'know, just flavors. For example: Americans have BBQ chips, while the British offer BBQ Rib chips. See the difference?
One of the biggest perpetrators of chip-flavoring in the UK is Walkers, whose packaging will undoubtedly look familiar to chip-friendly Yanks: It's exactly the same logo as Lay's, with a red ribbon around a yellow sun. That's because Walkers and Lay's are both part of the PepsiCo empire. So don't worry, you're still eating corporate.
We couldn't get our hands on every odd variety of Walkers crisps, but we did manage to sneak four small bags out of the UK by securing them in condoms, then swallowing them for the plane ride. (Actually, we got them off the ol' Internet; plenty of places service the needs of Brits abroad, and most of them have awesome candy.) The flavors we ended up with: Steak & Onion, Roast Chicken, Smoky Bacon, and Prawn Cocktail. The flavors we'll have to try next time: Marmite, Worcester, Tomato Ketchup.
Taste: Every week can't bring pickle-flavored frozen treats, cheeseburgers in cans, or bacon-flavored crickets. Sometimes a Taste Test lives up to the hopes and dreams and nightmares of The A.V. Club, and sometimes it falls flat. The overwhelming response to these British chips was "meh." The idea felt a lot more exciting than the execution—we were all at least semi-excited to try these unusual flavors, but none of them were overwhelmingly good or bad. They're chips, and they'll do in a pinch. Smoky Bacon tasted like less-intense bacon bits. Prawn Cocktail, not bad, tasted like cocktail sauce without the prawn. Roast Chicken actually tasted like crispy chicken skin, but not nearly as delectable. And Steak & Onion, by far the least popular, had a weird acidity. Nobody would throw any of these chips out, but nobody here would likely be inspired to buy them again.
• (Steak & Onion) "Oh, that's really terrible. Like a chip rolled heavily in bullion, with a sort of sour-salt aftertaste. It's really bitter."
• (Prawn Cocktail) "Maybe a little tomato-y. Not fishy at all. It should probably be called 'vaguely prawn cocktail sauce' flavor."
• (Roast Chicken) "Tastes like chicken! Okay, that was predictable. Again, kinda tastes like it's been powdered with bullion, but it isn't nearly as sour and bitter and unpleasant."
• (Bacon) "Probably the best use of fake bacon of anything bacony we've tried so far, but that isn't saying much. They're okay. Chips dusted in bacon bits."
• "Overall, the best thing about these is that they taste like baked chips, so they aren't really greasy; they're kind of like Pringles Special Meat Flavor Bouquet. But I wouldn't reach for them when I was in the mood for meat OR chips."
• "It's been what, 25 minutes? And after a glass of water I still have the taste of those damn chips in my mouth. It's a miasma of flavor."
• (Roast Chicken) "It doesn't taste like anything at first; the chicken flavor is relatively subtle. As Krusty says of the Ribwich, 'I don't mind the taste!'"
• (Steak & Onion) "Fucking disgusting. Just tastes like beef stock and onion powder, and that's a bad thing."
• (Prawn Cocktail) "I wasn't even sure what this was supposed to taste like. Whatever it is, it's salty."
• (Prawn Cocktail) "Tastes pretty much like sour cream and onion chips—honestly wouldn't have noticed if the bag wasn't labeled."
• (Roast Chicken) "Has a subtle smoky flavor. Me gusta."
• "The prawn is not that bad; I don't think you'll be disgusted by it at all."
• "Steak and onion is fucking gross." "I kinda like it!"
• "Flavor aside, they're actually pretty good chips. Good, greasy, thin chips."
Where to get them: Google "walkers crisps" and take your pick. Britishdelights.com definitely has them.