Friday Afternoon Chip Smackdown

Why do we eat potato chips? For the crunch? Because they're a transport layer for salt, oil and other spices? Because they're cheap, yet difficult to make at home, so it's a rare-ish treat?  Personally, I've gotten into the bad habit of spicing up the afternoon with a bit of salty and tangy.

So it was, late in the afternoon, stuck debugging a program, I figured it was time to stretch my legs. I wondered down to the lunchroom to see what the chip situation was. Our company recently switched snack vendors, so the options expanded from just the Lay's stable of chips.  Normally I like something jalapeno or habanero, but today I was thinking salt & vinegar.  Maybe it's in anticipation of the Oregon Brewfest next week. There were two kinds available: Dirty Potato Chips in a 2 oz bag for $1.29, and Corazonas in a 1.5oz bag for the same price. 

Tough choice! Normally I'd go for the higher ratio of chips/money, viz the 2 oz bag.  But, in a strange fit of experimentation, I bought both bags for a Friday afternoon chip snackdown.  The results follow.

The Corazonas are lighter, crunchier, with an actual potato taste that reminds me of the fries from fish & Chips plate at The Horse Brass (English pub). That impression is probably helped by the vinegar, which comes across with a malty taste (the ingredients say it's a mix of apple, malt, and white vinegar).

The Dirty Potato Chips, while kettle cooked, actually have a texture closer to Munchos.  They are much greasier than the Corazonas, and at twice the fat (15g vs 9g), I'm not surprised.  The vinegar is also much more in-your-face, with a sharp tang.  According to the label, it's not even vinegar, but a mix of "vinegar powder," citric acid, and malic acid.  I hate to admit it, but I've eaten enough salt & vinegar chips in a sitting that any with malic acid start to hurt my teeth.

Keeping up with the good chip/bad chip roles, the Dirty chips have 80 more calories per bag, with 140 of them from fat.

Meanwhile, the Corazonas practically have a halo on the bag. Not only are they gluten free, but the package says they're infused with plant sterols, which they say lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol. If you eat 0.4 grams of plant sterols twice per day (coincidentally, almost as much as is in a bag of Corazonas potato chips) you'll be on a low cholesterol diet!

Let me conclude before I feel like I'm turning into an info-mercial. Bottom line, I wasn't especially excited by either chip, although I'll probably buy the Corazonas again. They weren't greasy, and the supposed plant sterol benefits are pretty pyschologically compelling.  Also, I appreciated that they used real vinegar and omitted the malic acid.  On the other hand, given a choice between the Dirty chips and the Lay's Salt & Vinegar, I'd probably pick Lay's brand -- the Dirty chips were trying too hard for the price.
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