Classic though they might be, I’m not a fan of plain potato chips. Salt and oil as primary flavors just aren’t enticing to me. Now, add some cheddar and sour cream or honey-barbecue seasonings, and we’re in business. But even those flavors are considered plain Jane when you compare them with what lies beyond our borders. Though we think of potato chips as being quintessentially American, they’re a popular snack in countries all over the world. And just as fast food, chocolate, and other gastronomic commodities are repurposed to suit the unique tastes of different cultures, potato chips sold in other countries come in a plethora of flavors that make our cheddar and barbecue varieties seem downright boring.
1. Fries ’n Gravy
We eat mashed potatoes with gravy; we’d probably eat fried mashed potatoes with gravy; so why not fried potato chips with gravy? The folks at Lay’s Canada think it’s a good combo. Clearly, Canadians aren’t afraid to take condiments associated with potatoes to the next level (see ketchup chips). Throw a few cheese curds into the bag, and you’ve got portable poutine, Canada’s unofficial national dish.
2. Ham & Keen’s Mustard
Smith’s Potato Crisps, based in Australia, claims this is a “perfect partnership of two Australian icons.” These flavors work deliciously well together in a sandwich, so I can’t see how the addition of salty, crunchy potatoes could change that.
3. Wasa Beef
I love wasabi anything … well, almost anything. I don’t know if I’d love beefy chips with wasabi powder, but I salute Japan’s Yamayoshi for its innovative flavor combination.
4. Mango Flavor
Photo source: zieak (cc)
Lay’s introduced a Natural & Warm line of chips with flavors representing the “yang” to its Natural & Cool flavors. Instead of cool cucumber and lime, yang flavors include mango and lychee.
5. Lime ’n’ Masala Masti
With tangy lime and flavorful Indian spices like garlic, ginger, and curry, these chips, made by Lay’s India, bring the sweet heat of Indian food to the snack aisle. Reviews are mostly positive; one Web site calls these chips “an explosion of flavor.” The combination of lime and masala was enough to pique my curiosity, but after reading that, I’m ready to book a trip to India.
6. Spanish Chicken Paella
This is just one of fifteen limited-edition “crisps” recently released by Walkers (a UK snack-foods company that Lay’s owns) during their Flavour Cup game, in which fans vote for their favorite new flavor online. With Welsh Rarebit, German Bratwurst Sausage, and English Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding in the running, it’ll be a tough contest for sure.
Mrs. H.S. Ball’s chutney is extremely popular in South Africa; some call the flavor an icon, and others think of it simply as tradition. Naturally, its sweetly spiced flavor is just as popular in chip form.
8. Bacon Sizzler
Given America’s current love affair with all things bacon-related, I’m surprised there aren’t more bacon-flavored chips crowding U.S. supermarket shelves. Other countries got on the bacon bandwagon years ago. The UK’s McCoy’s, self-described maker of “man crisps,” offers this smoky, meaty delight.
9. New Yorker’s Street Cheese Dog
Pringles’ American-style flavors for Japanese consumers are more interesting than what we usually eat here (and slightly confusing). Along with Las Vegas Spareribs and Grand Canyon French Fries, Street Cheese Dog is meant to showcase our favorite national flavors in one chip.
10. Pizza Potato
We have pizza-flavored chips in the U.S., but Calbee (sold in Japan and Hong Kong) outdoes anything here by adding bits of melted cheese to its chips. Take that, Pringles!
Slowly but surely, the U.S. is catching up with our foreign snack-food counterparts and creating fun, unique flavors to excite our taste buds. Kettle chips in particular are making great strides in the fried-potato department, offering up flavors like Fully Loaded Baked Potato and Spicy Thai. We might have a long way to go until wasabi beef and Spanish chicken paella become as ubiquitous as barbecue or sour cream and onion, but it’s a tasty start nonetheless.