After hearing about all the flavors of chips they have over in the United Kingdom, I decided to order a variety pack of Walkers and give them a shot in the interest of flavor adventurers everywhere. Ya know, for science.
Here’s what came in the mail. I am bold, yet not without trepidation upon seeing the word “prawn” on a bag of snacks. Still though, let us dive into this collection of salt and preservatives with a hungry sense of valor.
1. Classically Ready Salted With Salt From Cheshire
Ok! Let’s start with the most familiar flavor, despite the immediate call to mind of a grinning psychotic feline from Wonderland. The potato flavor is identical to the American version. Salt flavor is actually different from the usual table salt variety. Seems a bit more crunchy too. On a scale of 1-10, I give this a 5 for being comfortably familiar (kinda boring) yet ever-so-slightly different. Onward!
2. Distinctively Salt & Vinegar With Real British Vinegar
Ok. Can we just talk about how awesome the titles of the flavors are? Why don’t we give the same respect and grandeur to our own domestic snacks? Cheese: Unequivocally Important and Delicious.
Alright so here we go, Salt and Vinegar. This should be pretty familiar too, but I’m expecting a malt vinegar flavor. The smell is pretty much the same, not quite as burning to the nose as I remember.
Bingo! THIS is what Salt and Vinegar should be. It puts domestic Lays Brand to shame quite honestly, with their use of what I assume to be white vinegar. The malt vinegar definitely has a little less acrid tang and more depth. I’m getting really into vinegar preference here and I don’t care who knows it. Rating of 7 because I love vinegar. Say vinegar again.
3. Famously Worcester Sauce; Blended In Britain
This is the first venture into completely unfamiliar territory folks. I’m going to assume that we’re going to get some good Worcestershire Sauce action here, but given that I’ve never had the Worcester variety, the crisp is truly in the air.
First impression is the smell. It’s like a weird combination of onion and Indian food. I check the bag and there it is; Cardamom and Ginger. Ordinarily I love Indian food (Vindaloo please) but being that it’s coming from a bag of chips I’m a little unnerved to tell you the truth. It’s like that “which one of these doesn’t belong” type of things.
And the flavor? It’s sort of like robots tried to approximate what Worcestershire Sauce tastes like, and it came out as an oddly chemical amalgamation of synthetic spice. Granted I’ve never tried British Worcester minus the -shire but sorry Mr. Walker this one is a no-go. Rating of 3.
4. Unmistakably Cheese & Onion With Cheddar From Somerset
Again with the awesome titles, even if this one sounds like someone describing the breath of a bad date. Still though, this should be pretty darn tasty I’m hoping.
They smell sort of like our Sour Cream and Onion, but without the sour and with a whole lot more “cheddar.” Someone say cheddar? Now I’m getting kinda pumped, not gonna lie. The color is preeetty orange. I look for artificial coloring, and discover that they’ve used Paprika extract! Way to go for natural coloring guys!
After careful rumination of the complexity that might await me I made the plunge. Result? This is your mother’s potato-cheese soup in a chip form. Holy moly guys, these are legit. And you don’t even get the dreaded Cheeto fingers. Bravo Mr. Walker, Bravo. Rating of 8.
5. Definitively Prawn Cocktail With Vale Of Evesham Tomatoes
Now as we approach the end of our journey, I have saved the best/possibly worst for last. In a land where proudly served and traditional foods can include a whole fish served in a pie (Stargazy Pie) or minced/spiced offal with oatmeal served in a Sheep’s Stomach (Haggis, which is delicious with some HP I must admit) I know that there can be some unusual flavors in British food from the perspective of those unaccustomed.
That’s why I’m looking at the word “prawn” with some legitimate anticipation that this is going to be sort of a shrimp-flavored potato chip. Honestly, I would probably be down with that. Worcestershire (and Worcester) sauce both use fish sauce as an ingredient, which is fermented (i.e. rotten) fish liquid that is used as an Umami booster. The Brits picked it up after encountering the pungent sauce during the Colonial Indian times and added it to another sauce recipe.
Culinary history aside, I am pretty excited about this one to tell you the truth. And this one has seriously the BEST title yet; “With Vale of Evesham Tomatoes.” Be honest, you can actually hear Helen Mirren saying that.
And without further delay….
First encounter; the smell is exactly like a vinegary ketchup without the garlic. No fish smell whatsoever.
Taste? Ok this is where it gets a little fuzzy for me because of the impending flavor rapture. I almost can’t REALLY describe it. It’s like cocktail sauce, but without the horseradish. It’s like barbecue sauce minus the smoke and cayenne. It’s tangy but it sort of subsides and carries the tomato flavor all the way. This is the chip that all other chips wish they could be. It is the inanimate snack object that you would marry after a late night out and then mercilessly consume without shame immediately after. These are absolutely a solid 10, and so good that I probably wouldn’t keep a bag in the cupboard.
So tell me England, what other awesome flavor bombs are you hiding from us? Fess up.
If you’re reading this and I have piqued your curiosity, you can purchase a variety box on Amazon for a reasonable price, or try your local British store serving expats.
Now if you’ll excuse me I have an appointment with my toothbrush and floss.