Snack food companies love to throw around words like “extreme” (or Xtreme, or XXXTREEEME), “intense”, “maximum”, and all manner of other adjectives that they want you to think makes their product seem like the craziest, most flavorful, most BLOWIN’ YOUR MIND food you’ve ever eaten.
And I fall for it every time.
Well, not exactly. I don’t expect said product to explode my head, blowing my brains all over my kitchen, or even just make me say, “Wow, that was intense.” But every time I see one of these adjectives on the shelves, I have to at least give it a glance. It is just my nature.
This time, it took a brief post on Facebook to catch my attention. Namely, a post from Ruffles proudly letting me know that their Ultimate Beef N’ Cheese Dip contained real beef brisket.
Such a matter-of-fact post, and yet, to my trained eye, I was instantly revolted and intrigued at the same time.
Soon afterward, I saw a commercial for Ruffles Ultimate that was 30 seconds of so much stupid that I had to take an inordinate amount of time pausing and rewinding it to break it down for all of you:
We open with three shlubs playing poker; balding shlub #4 walks in with his innocent-looking girlfriend (played by actress Emily Chang, whose IMDB credits include “Sexy Nurse” and “Flight Attendant”) and asks if they have room for her. She smiles, all “what are these cards and chips (get it? Poker chips in a chip commercial!) and Texas Hold ‘Em oh my goodness” and the shlubs are immediately roped in by her good looks and seeming gullibility.
She sits down; there’s a bag of Ruffles Ultimate Kickin’ Jalapeño Ranch chips and a jar of Smokehouse Bacon Dip already in front of her chair, which begs the question: who was eating the chips and dip before she arrived? Did Dave just go to take a piss and was instantly usurped by the arrival of a female? Was it some sort of shrine to a dead friend and former poker buddy, who refused to play unless chips and dip were provided for him and him only? I guess we’ll never know.
She sits down and immediately says, “Mmmm, new Ruffles Ultimate,” which is a thing nobody in real life would ever actually say, and sticks a chip into the jar of dip, shoving it into her mouth with lightning speed, like she hasn’t eaten in days.
“Never seen ridges this deep,” she says, pile-driving another dip-loaded chip into her mouth. But wait! What has happened? Innocent girlfriend is suddenly wearing oversized sunglasses and a Bedazzled pair of headphones!
“ Is [sic] there chunks of bacon in this dip? Awesome!” The “awesome” is said in a reverent whisper I would reserve for, say, watching a live feed of the Curiosity rover landing on Mars while in a public library. As she says this, she makes an almost O-face and her sad-sack boyfriend sitting next to her leers. Once dressed modestly, she is now wearing a spaghetti-strapped tank top. One of the shlubs announces that he is “all in”, which I’m sure he wishes he was, in a different context.
“Bro, [unintelligible] me a cold one,” she says, now wearing a blinged-out necklace and a tight leather jacket over her tank top.
“I love you so much right now,” her boyfriend says, immediately getting up to do her bidding. It’s obvious he likes this dressed-for-the-club chick over the nice, sweet girl he walked in with, pre-Ruffles. This is sad but telling. My feminist hackles rise like the ridges of Ruffles Ultimate chips.
“Whatchoo got,” one of the guys off-camera says, in a desperate attempt to sound cool in front of the newly-sexified girlfriend while the boyfriend is in the kitchen, oblivious to one of his friends making what I assume is a double entendre.
“Ba-ZIIIIING,” she says, which is also something nobody has ever actually said, and throws her cards down. “Love boys night out,” she says, and takes, like, three chips from the pot. I take this to mean she has no idea how to play poker, and was just randomly throwing cards down and taking chips. Poker chips, not Ruffles chips.
This scene ends abruptly, leaving me to believe that the guys continue to let her win by just throwing down random cards and taking arbitrary amounts of chips from the pot, all in the hopes of having a quad-way with her as she shovels more and more Ruffles into her mouth.
“The new Ruffles Ultimate: snack like you mean it,” a voiceover says, trying his hardest to sound like the manliest man in the land. What does that phrase even mean? Have I ever snacked like I didn’t mean it? I’ve never taken anything with “sleep-eating” as a side effect, so I guess I wouldn’t know.
That sure was a hell of a lot of words to describe a commercial. Heck, you can just watch the damn thing here.
Now that I’m thoroughly disgusted with Ruffles’ advertising agency and myself, let’s get to the actual food. The word “disgusted” may or may not come up again.
Ruffles Ultimate Kickin’ Jalapeño Chips
What makes these chips “ultimate” is explained right on the front of the bag: “HARDERcore ridges for hardcore dips”.
While I’d love to go on a rant about the use of the non-word “hardercore”, there’s an even deeper issue here. Deeper than one stupid commercial. Deeper than hardercore ridges. It’s called manvertising, and Frito-Lay’s Snack Chat post makes it clear that that is what they’re going for:
“The chips rock ridges twice the size and depth of the ridges in original Ruffles Potato Chips and come in a variety of real food flavors sure to satisfy any guy gathering. The thick, deep ridges in the chips allow for guys to load up on hearty flavor with new hardcore dips…”
I’m trying desperately to stay on-topic, but I have to at least mention the ridiculousness of the phrase “real food flavors”. Have you ever seen a chip that was not “real food” flavored?
“Oh man, you gotta try these new PVC Pipe Pringles. Tastes just like plastic!”
“Check out these limited edition cotton-flavored Doritos!” (Never got past test marketing; potheads and those suffering from hangovers complained of cotton mouth.)
Okay, okay, I got it out of my system. Anyways, I don’t go around burning my bras, but stuff like this is so blatantly sexist that my feminist hackles can’t help but go up. I really don’t mind if products that are obviously intended for guys, like, say, Old Spice deodorant, are directly marketed to the male gender, but things like low-calorie soda or chips with bigger ridges can be enjoyed by both genders.
More on this later. Oh, that’s right. We’re not done yet.
Here’s some words about these stupid chips. As you can see, they do have deeper ridges, but they aren’t much thicker than regular Ruffles. Will deeper ridges alone allow for less chip breakage when dipping? We shall find out in a moment.
As for the flavor, I’m completely dismissing the “Kickin’” part because that’s just regular ol’ unnecessary adjective addition, which has become pedestrian in this day and age of snack food marketing. It’s like when you type the same word over and over again; after a while, it loses all meaning and your eyeballs just pass right over it. I don’t even care that Ruffle is doin’ the whole gerund-abbreviation thin’. It don’t mean nothin’.
The jalapeño flavor does have some actual heat to it, which is always appreciated in a product that claims to have some spice goin’ on. The ranch flavor was surprisingly strong, especially on the finishing end; it lingers more than the jalapeño flavor, but has an authentic ranch flavor that I enjoyed.
Oh, by the way, the back of the bag also says, “Your hunger’s about to get kicked in the tail by the hottest ranch this side of Carson City.”
If you don’t quite get the joke there, you’re obviously an out-of-touch woman, or a sissy man who has never been with a legal whore. Watch out; Ruffles will revoke your Man Card for such an offense.
Ruffles Ultimate Smokehouse Bacon Dip
The jar wants to make sure I know that there’s real bacon inside, which is not inherently bad, because, hey, bacon, but I’m a little disturbed at what this bacon is suspended in. The name of the dip is completely bacon-centric, but its creamy whiteness left me unsettled.
I decided to plow ahead without reading the ingredients on the jar and let my tongue decide what was going on. It’s not like I wasn’t going to eat it anyways, and ignorance is bliss, right?
I also decided to try to Smokehouse Bacon Dip with the Kickin’ Jalapeño Ranch Chips, because that’s what Emily Chang did in the commercial, and I always follow the serving suggestions of snack food manufacturers.
Speaking of which, why not just have Emily Chang turn into a dude at the end of the Ruffles Ultimate commercial? Who wants a sexy chick interrupting your male-bonding poker game? After all, nothing says “completely heterosexual guy gathering” like getting something thick, white and creamy all over your hands with your best buds?
Damn these hackles! So distracting! Anyways, as you can see, Ruffles Ultimate chips immediately failed the “hardercore” test, breaking almost immediately after contact with the thick dip. Way to fail at the one thing you claimed you could accomplish, Ultimate chips. I just so happened to have a bag of regular Ruffles in my cupboard, so I thought a comparison might be in order…
As for the taste of the dip, it was…well, kind of bland, really. Kind of like a half-assed blend of ranch and sour cream flavors. Out of the three rather large chipfuls of Smokehouse Bacon Dip I ate, only one actually contained a chunk with texture that suggested I was eating a piece of bacon, and even then, it was limp and chewy.
The bacon flavor itself, despite the jar’s claim of real bacon, tasted more like Bacon Bits, and was more of an aftertaste. It’s sad when “bland white stuff” taste overwhelms “real bacon” taste. It even overwhelmed the bit of heat from the chips, somehow. I never knew bland could be so strong.
In hindsight, I’m glad I tried the dip before I read the ingredients. Some of the ingredients with sub-ingredients (have I used the word “ingredients” enough yet?) include “sour cream flavor”, “smoky bacon type flavor” and “butter type flavor”. I’ve never seen so many types. Especially without the grammatically appropriate hyphens.
Ruffles Ultimate Smokehouse Bacon Dip wasn’t gross, per se; it was just bland and disappointing. I wasn’t exactly expecting to be blown away with awesome bacon flavor, nor was I expecting to suddenly be wearing ridiculous bejeweled headphones. I was just expecting something beyond blah. I also was not expecting butter type flavor.
But Smokehouse Bacon Dip is joy in a jar compared to what was to come next…
Ruffles Ultimate Beef N’ Cheese Dip
And here we have the dip that started it all. There’s real beef inside, which I already knew from the Facebook post that told me it contained not just real beef, but real beef brisket.
No questions regarding meat content here; when I opened the lid, I was greeted with, well…that. Ominous lumps hiding just under the surface of a sea of processed cheese. I was already filled with trepidation.
The Ultimate chips fared better with this dip, as the cheese was less thick than the Smokehouse Bacon Dip.
However, the regular Ruffles fared just as well, so Ultimate still loses.
These were the first and last two bites of Beef N’ Cheese Dip I will ever experience. I wanted to stop at one, but I already had the second chip loaded up, and I thought the dip deserved at least two chances.
Let me explain further…
Ruffles Ultimate Beef N’ Cheese Dip is horrible. As the dip first entered my mouth, my taste buds were met with processed cheese flavor, which was not unexpected. However, it went beyond just processed, and ventured into, no, past the worst elementary-school-cafeteria nacho cheese you’ve ever tasted.
And then there was the beef. The chunks were visibly large, but also disturbingly soft. The more I chewed, the worse it got. It started out like a bad piece of meat from a can of Dinty Moore stew, but quickly turned into what I can only describe as “value” generic-brand dog food. I’ve never tasted dog food, but I’ve certainly smelled it, and the “beef brisket” chunks in this dip must be close to what you’d feed your dog if you hate it and want it to die. It is animal cruelty disguised as human chip dip.
Just when I thought it couldn’t be worse, the cheese goo from Hell and the dog food chunks somehow conspired to make the aftertaste even worse. Sometimes I go into food knowing that it’s going to be bad; I steel myself, but soldier on. This…this I was not expecting. The taste lingered in my mouth like a wretched food poisoning-induced vomit, which was appropriate, because I actually felt nauseous after eating it.
I was actually hungry before I had started this review; after the Beef N’ Cheese dip, I honestly had no desire to eat anything, instead dousing my mouth with a cold, bitter mug of coffee that had been hanging around for hours. I verbalized actual “ugh” and “bleeeeeh” sounds as I reeled around my house, which may sound overdramatic, but I was alone, and the sounds were genuine.
The taste refused to leave, like an animal had died inside the wall of my house, except the only exterminator that could eliminate this putrid flavor would be the cold, bony finger of Death himself.
Okay, that last part was a little overdramatic. But only a little.
Overall, my Ruffles Ultimate experience was far from ultimate. The flavor of the Kickin’ Jalapeño Ranch Chips was okay but nothing original or fantastic, and the deeper, wider ridges were actually less effective in preventing chip breakage when up against a thick dip.
The Smokehouse Bacon Dip was hardly a bacon party in my mouth, and the dip itself, chock full of “type” flavors, had hardly any flavor at all. I don’t expect a whole lot out of a jarred, shelf-stable dip, but I expected more than a vaguely sour cream/ranchy base with some chewy bits of fake-tasting bacon.
Last and most definitely least, the Beef N’ Cheese dip was a horrorshow that makes me wish I had a time machine so I that I could go back and tell myself to never read Facebook again just so I had never known it existed. I just realized I never bothered to read the ingredients on the jar of this dip, and you know what? I’m not going to. I’ve already been traumatized enough. I don’t need any further confirmation that this dip is made from the Devil’s jizz and boiled chunks of old horse meat.
Oh, right, I actually forgot about my hackles for some minutes, there. Here’s a parting quote from Frito Lay North America’s Vice President of Marketing: “Guys live for larger-than-life moments that fuel legendary stories they share for years. Male bonding is a rite of passage for guys, and what better way to bond than by attending one of the most exciting parties on the planet. The Ruffles Ultimate line was created to fuel epic moments. It’s in moments like these, often over a bag of chips, where recounting the tale is almost as fun as being there the first time.”
These are some of the dumbest words about any food product I’ve ever seen in print. I could rip it apart for another good 500 words, but I already never want to see the words “Ruffles” and “Ultimate” in the same sentence ever again.
The “party” he’s referring to is some Maxim tie-in contest that has since expired. Consider that a blessing, although nothing makes a for some male bonding and a legendary story with an epic moment quite like a circle puke of fake cheese and dog chow all over a group of Maxim models. Hardercore.
Ruffles Ultimate Kickin’ Jalapeño Ranch Chips
- Score: 2.5 out of 5 hardercore chips more fragile than the bones of a post-menopausal woman with osteoporosis
- Price: $4.29
- Size: 8 oz. bag
- Purchased at: Fry’s Foods
- Nutritional Quirks: These are chips. Blessedly, they’re just chips.
Ruffles Ultimate Smokehouse Bacon Dip
- Score: 1.5 out of 5 BA-ZIIIINGs
- Price: $4.49
- Size: 15 oz. jar
- Purchased at: Fry’s Foods
- Nutritional Quirks: Sour cream type flavor. Smoky bacon type flavor. Butter type flavor.
Ruffles Ultimate Beef N’ Cheese Dip
- Score: 0 out of 5 circle vomits
- Price: $4.49
- Size: 15 oz. jar
- Purchased at: Fry’s Foods
- Nutritional Quirks: Since I refuse to read the actual ingredients – Devil’s jizz and old horse meat.