A little while back, I got an email from a stranger living in Australia. She loves Skittles. She loves them so much, in fact, that she asked if I could ship her a bag of Darkside Skittles, since they didn’t have them where she lived.
She suggested we do a snack trade. Because I noted that she had her own food website, I immediately gave her my address, because you can obviously trust a complete stranger that you’ve emailed twice on the Internet, as long as they have a food blog.
I got into a lot of white, unmarked vans as a child. Obviously unrelated, but I felt I should mention it.
We made arrangements, and a surprisingly short time later, a totally awesome box full of Australian goodies arrived at my doorstep. So full, in fact, that there was no way I could fit them all into one review. Or two reviews. In fact, I may be reviewing them forever. Keeping this in mind, I won’t be using my usual review structure – I’ll just give a quick rating at the end of each item.
That said, enjoy part one of Australian Snaxplosion!
Thins Light & Tangy Thin & Crispy Potato Chips
Thins have a pretty much identical texture to Lay’s potato chips, which makes sense, since they were once owned by Pepsico, who bought them from Smith’s, but then sold them to…you know what, nevermind. Just know that the base chip is just like Lay’s.
I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from Thins Light & Tangy, since neither of these words are particularly descriptive. Lightly flavored? Light in calories? Tangy…how?
The back of the bag offered me no clues. There was no nutritional information box, nor was there an ingredients list. I found this intriguing, since I’m pretty sure it’s a law or something to list that stuff in the United States. “Or something” – that’s good research, right there. In fact, none of the three items being reviewed today had any information on the back. You roll the dice when you snack Australian.
If you can’t tell by the pictures, all three of these snacks came in surprisingly small bags. By small, I mean, one serving. An actual serving, not an American serving. Something you would eat during a work break. It’s like comparing a 12-ounce soda to a Big Gulp. I wonder, do they offer gallon-sized jugs of soda in Australian convenience markets? My hunch is no.
Anyways, Thins Light & Tangy had a nice vinegar bite with an equal amount of…tang. I could definitely identify some onion in there, but it wasn’t sour cream and onion-flavored…perhaps a bit of a ranch flavoring? I think ranch would count as tangy.
I won’t lie, I did look up the ingredients, but only after I’d tasted the chip. Some of the ingredients are “Vegetable Powders (Onion, Tomato), Flavour (Natural), Flavour Enhancer (621) and Herbs & Spices”.
I couldn’t taste any tomato, but the rest seemed about on point. Of course, I have no idea what 621 Flavour Enhancer is, but hey.
In the end, I never did learn what was so light about Thins Light & Tangy Thin and Crispy Potato Chips. I did, however, enjoy the taste. They had a nice balance of vinegar, salt, and a present but not overwhelming ranch-like flavor. Nothing crazy or groundbreaking, but a fine snack, nonetheless.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 kudos for using the moniker “Light” for seemingly no reason at all
Thins Chicken Thin & Crispy Potato Chips
Chicken-flavored potato chips may seem pretty out there if you’re American, but according to my brief Internet research, chicken seems to be a pretty common flavor for Australian snacks. In fact, I got another chicken-flavored snack in my box, Chicken Twisties, but they didn’t survive the International travel very well, and by that I mean, both ends of the bag blew out. Amazingly, this was the only casualty of the whole box, so I consider myself lucky.
Maybe chicken doesn’t seem so out there when you consider the crazy flavors we’ve seen over the years. Mountain Dew-flavored Doritos, anyone? Besides that, if I had to pick a meat to flavor chips, chicken seems the most innocuous.
Thins Chicken chips look remarkably similar to Light & Tangy, but the tastes are worlds apart. They look and feel almost identical – again, think Lay’s with some green flecks on them – but Chicken lacks all the twang that excites taste buds. Is it possible for a food to taste…matte? If it is, that is how I would describe Thins Chicken.
While the unfortunately unseen Twisties Chicken tasted like chicken bullion, Thins Chicken didn’t taste like chicken at all. In fact, I’m not sure what they tasted like. They were very salty, and there was a little onion, but that was about it.
Actually, there was a strange aftertaste that I can only describe as “chewing on an old jar of chicken bullion cubes”. It was very odd and unpleasant.
I was steeling myself for chicken-flavored potato chips when I opened up my bag of Thins Chicken Thin & Crispy Potato Chips, but what I got was actually worse. Instead of chicken, I got a flavor that was both bland and unnatural. After enjoying Thins Light & Tangy, I was surprised at how badly Thins Chicken failed to live up to its name.
Rating: 2 out of 5 ways that Thins managed to make chicken-flavored chips taste worse than chicken-flavored chips
As you may imagine, Out of the three offerings shown here, I was most intrigued by this product. Burger Rings! Again, these may sound odd to Americans, and the lack of imagery plus the promise of “big burger taste” on the front of the bag may conjure memories of things like Doritos Late Night All-Nighter Cheeseburger. I know it did for me, and that was not necessarily a good thing.
Burger Rings are apparently very popular in Australia, so I thought, how bad can they be?
That’s usually an ominous question, but for once, I was pleased to discover that they were not bad at all. In fact, I enjoyed them quite a bit.
Upon first glance, Burger Rings look like smaller, redder versions of Funyuns. They say we eat with our eyes, and in this case, my eyeballs were pretty spot-on. The texture was indistinguishable to that of Funyuns – light and somewhat puffy, but with a satisfying crunch. I would call it a “soft crunch”, if such a thing exists.
The flavor of Burger Rings was distinctly that of cheese and tomato. Breathe a sigh of relief – unlike the abominations that have been created in the US, Burger Rings made no attempt to make their product taste like meat. “Big burger taste” is just big talk.
Unlike Funyuns, Burger Rings are the perfect size for popping into your mouth. I found that I’d blown through my appropriately snack-sized bag rather quickly. With a generic cheesy tomato flavor and a crunchy but non-gum-stabbing texture, they were easy and fun to eat.
While I would have preferred something else to go with the cheese – maybe onion, or, dare I say, garlic – I can see why so many Australians like this snack. I was glad that my Aussie snack trading partner had included two bags, because one was just not enough. I’d love to see Burger Rings sitting next to Funyuns on store shelves. It’s time someone gave them a run for their money in the ring-shaped crunchy snack department.
Rating: 4 out of 5 sighs of relief that Burger Rings taste nothing like actual burgers
That wraps up part one of our unknown number of Australian snack food reviews! I’ll be back later with more treats from the land down under. In the meantime, watch out for drop bears, folks.