My weakness when it comes to junk food is potato chips. There are so many brands and varieties to choose from this is a list of my favorites. Before I get into the main list let me lament the passing of two great chip companies that are sadly no longer with us. It used to be before the advent of modern mass market production that there were hundreds of small locally owned and operated chip companies. Two of these that I grew up with were Royal Feast in Methuen, Massachusetts and Granite State in Salem, New Hampshire.
#5) Pringles – I can remember when these “chips” became popular, they were new and different from other chips on the market. These heavily processed chips are made from ground potatoes and pressed into a chip shape and packaged in their signature red tube. The packaging means that there is a minimum of broken chips despite the fragile nature of the chips themselves. They have a satisfying crunch and nice potato flavor with not much grease. I may actually prefer a newcomer to the market Lays Stax but for nostalgia sake I will go with Pringles.
#4) Cape Cod – The company that brought “kettle cooked” chips to the forefront of the mass production market. This is the style of chip that was the mainstay of the traditional regional chip production 100 years ago. Holdovers like Royal Feast were still producing kettle cooked chips for local distribution and purchase but the supermarket chips were dominated by the fragile processed brands like Lays and Wise. All of the companies now have a kettle cooked line but Cape Cod was the trendsetter.
#3) Lays Classic – This iconic brand in the bright yellow bag still brings the goods. The very fragile thin chips are ideal for munching and it is difficult to stop eating them since they are so light and ephemeral. One big drawback is the fragility of the chips, you will invariably end up with a half a bag of broken chips and crumbs no matter how careful you are.
#2) Lehman’s Gold’ N Krisp – I am not sure you can find this brand outside of mail order but it is well worth seeking out. The chips are cooked in a combination of vegetable oil and lard which gives them a unique flavor. The chips are very firm leaving few broken chips and the flavor is superb.
#1) Tri-Sum – This regional chip company has been in business since 1908 and is the pinnacle of potato chip flavor and texture. The firm chips hold up in the bag and the flavor is unique. They used to be cooked in beef tallow but are no longer. I do not know how they have maintained that flavor with the formulation change but they still have that unique aspect to their flavor profile. They may not be to everyone’s taste but for me they reign supreme.