The 10 best crisps


There are three divisive topics that will always lead to disagreements – Music, Religion and Crisps. Throughout cigar lounges and Gentlemen’s clubs, the length and breadth of this fair land, brandies are being swirled and the merits of Salt & Vinegar verses Cheese & Onion are being furiously debated.

There is something immensely personal about crisps, they tie themselves to you and become ‘your’ crisps. My earliest food memories are based around my primary school daily dose of 6p KP Pickled Onion Outer Spacers, the pre-cursers to Space Raiders.

Since then there have been a litany of potato and corn based snacks, which I am able to count as my friends. Some are sadly departed [Cheese & Onion Ringos, Phineas Fogg Californian Corn Chips, Burger Bites and Frisps], others have fallen by the wayside [Salt & Vinegar Chipsticks, Cheese & Onion McCoys and Salt & Vinegar Hula Hoops], whilst a few have stayed with me on the journey. From those stalwarts I have picked ten, all of which I know I can call on, no matter what time of the day, and they’ll be there for me.

Pickled onion Monster Munch

Suffering from revisionist history, the re-launch of ‘original’ Monster Munch has airbrushed out all the dubious decisions made by Walkers since they acquired them in 1995. Gone are the Beef Burger or Vanilla Ice Cream flavours and welcomed back with open arms are the original formulations for Roast Beef and Pickled Onion. They have bought back the original monsters, made them back to the old size, but conveniently forgotten that the Roast Beef flavour were a different shape!

Cheetos Cheese & Bacon Balls

Another snack which subscribes to The Malteser Box Syndrome. Where, there seems an unfathomable amount of said snack remaining – until The Tipping Point is reached, when, inexplicably they all vanish, leaving a single, solitary specimen nestling in a corner.

These Australian balls of umami – which are heavily weighted toward the cheese side of the flavour marriage, with just enough cured pig to put them ahead of the myriad snacks that share their finger-staining lurid colouring.

Quavers

I was never impressed with the Salt & Vinegar, or the Prawn Cocktail flavoured attempts – Quavers are cheese. FACT. Despite being made of potato, these floaty-light snacks weigh next to nothing. Whilst resembling unpalatable packing case filling, they in fact, taste quite delicious.

Walkers Prawn Cocktail

Despite being such a divisive flavour, this pink clad crisp manages to be friends with so many foods that it’s always top of the lunchtime list. Whilst Cheese & Onion can be too subtle, and Ready Salted not quite enough, this is the pack that never lets you down. Coming up to nearly 30 years old, I still consider them a newcomer to the world of Walkers.

Salt & Vinegar French Fries

A strange silken patina, a weird airy honeycomb crispness and a slightly strange aftertaste – not top of the list of pre-requisites for a top ten snack food, you could say, and I would agree. Sometimes, however, three wrongs do make a right. I give you French Fries. Obviously named when their deep fried namesake had an allure of glamour, they have now taken on a life of their own – marketed [along with their ‘sunseed’ oil cousin, Wotsits] as a healthier crisp type snack. Don’t let that put you off, these powerfully flavoured worms of joy are well worth a visit.

Skips

KP used to be proud of Skips, to the point of coming up with great ad campaigns (‘They’re floaty light!’ Anyone?) and releasing slightly incongruous flavour varients. Now, however, they don’t even put their logo on the packet! There is nothing to be ashamed of, in these crunchy prawn snack blossoms, in fact, a certain level of pride should be attached to something that can be reduced to a savoury paste, in one’s mouth so quickly!

Wotsits

They now proudly pronounce their oven-baked credentials and their relatively lower calorie count, but they are on the list in spite of those boasts. In fact, had my memories not been filled with birthday party bowls, heaving full of these cheesy stubs, then those boasts may well have swayed me to the contrary. The joy of licking cheese essence, between crammed mouthfuls is what childhood memories are made of. These days multiple packs are required.

Salt & Vinegar Discos

They may look innocent, but these perfect circles are packed full of the very definition of Salt & Vinegar. Sharp, salty and acrid, they induce over-activity of the saliva glands, which is a good thing, given their propensity to seemingly suck moisture out of one’s mouth. Due to their thickness, a splintered Disco can be a dangerous thing if due care and attention isn’t taken in their consumption.

Frazzles

Despite tasting nothing like actual bacon, nor looking anything like actual bacon, Frazzles are THE bacon corn snack. Even though they aren’t as prevalent as they once were, and there are so many other products vying for people’s snack cash, there is still a certain craving that only these porcine essenced strips will feed. The packs have shrunk over the years and if you really want a powerful Frazzle hit, then to the supermarkets you must go, for the larger own brand bags.

Smiths (Australia) Salt & Vinegar

Ahhhh Australia, birthplace of so much that has enriched the world – the rotary clothes drier, Eric Bana, and Smiths Crinkle Cut Chips. Their Salt & Vinegar variant is the perfect foil for a chicken schnitzel sandwich, a can of Diet Coke or a six pack of VBs – a crisp of all trades.  Thick crinkle cut, like a Frisp on steroids, these are what McCoys wished they were.

27 comments on “The 10 best crisps”

  1. Charlotte's comment - added on 15th of March, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Actually you can still get Frisps in Lidl. I buy them but always end up with loads of spare CHeese and Onion left over.

  2. Debs's comment - added on 21st of March, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    We had a what is your favourite crisp conversation around the Hughes table last night
    Tilly – Roast Chicken Walkers
    Martin – Cheese & Onion Walkers
    Debs – Ready Salted Walkers
    Aidan – Ready Salted Squares
    Vinny – Worcester Sauce French Fries
    Liam – Tomato Snaps
    Lorraine – Ready Salted Hula Hoops

  3. Kyle's comment - added on 15th of August, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Their the best crisps ever! so true! my all time favourite is the prawn cocktail walkers and salt and vinegar and monster munch! i love the pickled onion and flamin hot! i love chipsss yumm !! i can never have enough

  4. john's comment - added on 15th of November, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    Kettle Chips – black pepper
    mccoys – salt & vinegar
    Doritos – Chilli heatwave
    Wheat crunchies – Spicy Tomato
    these should have made it

  5. Stupid Fool's comment - added on 8th of December, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    What about f*cking Pringles™ goddammit!!!!

  6. Brannigans lover!'s comment - added on 27th of January, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Great selection, but it seems you’ve not tried Brannigans! Brannigans Roast Beef & Mustard are the best! If you agree please join our Facebook group to get Brannigans stocked throughout the UK :)

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Brannigans-crisps/195836153133

  7. Crisp Monster's comment - added on 13th of March, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Marmite Walkers are immense! Also:- Pickled Onion Space Raiders, Onion Rings, Sizzling King Prawn McCoy’s and Salt and Vinegar Kettle Chips! Yum.

  8. Coolkio's comment - added on 31st of March, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    Roysters T- Bone Steak Number 1 by a mile
    McCoys Steak
    Salt n Vin Squares
    Johny’s Onion Rings close number 2
    Cheese N Onion Frisps
    Bikers
    Space Raiders
    Exy Ozys (mmmmm)
    Curry Chips
    Fright Bites

  9. Mike's comment - added on 8th of October, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    What about Smith’s Salt & Vinegar Chipsticks?! Superior to French Fries in every single conceivable way.

  10. Amie's comment - added on 28th of January, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Well i miss pickled onion discos and….. Niknaks?!

  11. Moose's comment - added on 29th of February, 2012 at 2:53 am

    No no no no to any s’n’v, pickled onions or prawn c’tails!

    Smiths Bovril
    Bacon Fries
    Roysters T-bones
    Walkers Marmite
    Beef DISCOS
    BEEF WOTSITS
    McCoys flame grilled
    Doritos cheese
    Doritos cool
    Doritos hot

  12. Kate's comment - added on 30th of March, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    I miss Bugles!!

  13. Madduck's comment - added on 17th of April, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Okay sorry u missed the best crisps ever…tayto cheese n onion

  14. craig'y-boy's comment - added on 26th of July, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    yes would defo agree with coolkio’s comment roysters t-bone steak flavored crisps to quote a line from over the hedge…….because enough just isn’t enough, and a honorable mention wheat crunchies – spicy tomato :O)

  15. The Salivator's comment - added on 27th of July, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    A fine list, although there are some glaring omissions:

    Surely S&V Squares have to make the cut? a thinner bite than Discos yet with the same powerful punch – these are particularly enjoyable on a picnic (and speaking of Discos, which are quite rightly on the list, coinnoisseurs among us will remember the favour bomb promotion that ran in the early 90s where you could add an additional sachet of flavouring to your Discos to turbo-charge them. OH MY!).

    Agreeing with previous posts, Branagan’s Beef & Mustard, Wheat Crunchies (Spicy Tomato, Worcester Sauce and Crispy Bacon) but also critically Smiths Scampi Fries need to be on here – all of these are fundamentalaccompaniments to a pint. I tend to select Branagan’s (or the aformentioned Frazzles) with real ale, while the others offer the robust depth of flavour required to support a nice cold lager.

    If I’m fine dining a lady, then I’ll always splash out on a pack of Red Sky West Country Bacon & Cream Cheese. I like the fact they make a point of telling me where the bacon flavouring comes from. It propels me from a working-class scampi fries in the pub eater to the banqueting hall of Buckingham Palace in a single crunch (Wouldn’t be at all surprised if Kate likes to get her chops around a bag of Red Sky now and again).

    I see Beef Wotsits have been noted above too – a fine choice that goes well with any Ginsters pasty, although I consider them a professional snack choice, not for the first-timer due to the after-burp that can plague you for the whole afternoon.

    And finally, the bag that propelled crisps into the mainstream nearly 50 years ago – Smiths Salt n Shake. Do they offer the best crunch? No. Do they tingle the tastebuds? Nada. But oh swet lord the joy I had as a nipper, adding my own salt, shaking the bag and then tucking in…to find that the shaking process had had little effect, and the salt was still all on one crisp. Smiths Salt n Shake – we salute you.

  16. AngelaC's comment - added on 10th of August, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Oooo Smiths is Australia as well? Dutch is called Smiths too! All Walkers, slightly adjusted to each country’s taste. I miss Dutch Smiths!

  17. Jenny's comment - added on 10th of August, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    Oh Sally what have you started…. I think you’ll find you are missing a few greats:
    Cheese moments, bacon wheat crunchies and good old roast ox!!!

  18. sweetmummy's comment - added on 27th of September, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    hmm what about tesco handcooked jalapeno chilli crisps they are lipsmacking good and the sweet chilli brand seriously irristible

  19. Simon's comment - added on 7th of October, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    Walker’s Cheese & Onion are second to none according to my tastebuds, but in a very close second place are McCoy’s Ready Salted. I like the former for its sheer addictiveness, and the latter for its uncomplicated satisfaction.

  20. chris long's comment - added on 5th of December, 2012 at 1:46 am

    What were the roysters crisps flavour in the late 80’s/90’s cream cheese and chives? Haven’t seen them in a few year.

  21. Garrett Winters's comment - added on 10th of January, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    some nice choices there but only one on your list would be part of my favorites, the cheetos cheese and bacon balls ( I’m only just after ordering a few packs from Sanza.co.uk)
    cheese and onion from Frisps, Walkers and what was the big Australian crisp company and they even had cheese and onion thins that melted in your mouth.
    The best chip of all time though is Wise Onion and Garlic, if I could I would inhale them. Ready salted would be my second choice when none of the others were around. I really wish I could find someone in the UK who was bringing in Wise as I haven’t had any now in 5 years.

  22. Mad gaz's comment - added on 13th of March, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    1) McCoys Steak and Onion
    2) Walkers Salt and Vinegar (I have eaten a bag nearly every day for 44 years).

    If I am going connossieur then I would maybe choose Sensations or Brannigans.

  23. Cliff's comment - added on 26th of March, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Great list Ben.

    Where do you stand on peanut-flavoured crisps? They taste of peanuts, but are crisps. It’s a double whammy! Very common in France, not so much in England.

    I had a soft spot for Smith’s Cheese Flavoured Moments, which seem to have disappeared off the shelves. You couldn’t identify the cheese, but they were full of flavour and were often finished off in moments…

  24. Kev's comment - added on 24th of April, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Nados Hot Peri Peri crisps (can’t find the big bags any more) and a new comer the Co-Op Sea Salt and Chardonnay vinegar (sounds poncey but are unbelievable good).

  25. Jazz's comment - added on 31st of May, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    My top 10 crisps

    1 – Mexican chilli Mcoys
    2 – Magic Masala Lays
    3 – Sunbites Sweet chilli
    4 – Sensations Sweet chilli
    5 – Kettle chips black cracked pepper
    6 – Walkers baked stars cheese and onion
    7 – Walkers roast chicken
    8 – Thai sweet chicken mcoys
    9 – Doritos tangy cheese
    10 – Monster munch pickled onion

  26. Ed's comment - added on 14th of August, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    1. Smiths Scampi Fries
    2. McCoys Salt and Vinegar
    3. Doritos Chilli Heatwave
    4. Smiths Bacon Fries
    5. Nice and Spicy Nik Naks
    6. Bacon Wheat Crunchies
    7. McCoys Flame Grilled Steak
    8. Kettle Chips Salt and Vinegar
    9. Kettle Chips Honey Barbecue
    10. Philleus Fogg Salt and Vinegar

  27. brian's comment - added on 19th of November, 2014 at 12:20 am

    1. Tayto Cheese and Onion
    2. There is no other, apart from the maligned worcester sauce, take heed for the dawning of the banning of delecious artificial flavours is nigh upon us.

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