That was it. No product name, no pictures. Just two sentences. Mysterious.
Thankfully, Mr. Duckworth (whose name immediately invokes childhood memories of Scrooge McDuck swimming in a pile of gold coins) had an email address that Google led me to his product’s website: Deano’s Jalapeños. (Editor’s note: since the writing of this post, Deano’s Jalapeño’s website has gone down for remodeling. Consider this an archive of the beauty that it was before remodeling!)
I was met by fire gifs running down the side of the home page, which is always a sign of awesome. I was also met by the headline, “The Newest and Most UniqueSnack Food Available in the Universe”.
Fire gifs and typos. Red flags for most websites, but I’ve learned to take these things in stride when it comes to most small business’s sites, especially when it comes to the food industry. If I’d judged every local restaurant by their poorly-constructed website, I would have missed out on some of the most delicious food in my area. They’re doing the best they can, and sometimes that means asking your nephew to set up your website.
Plus, I could not ignore the brazen claim of being the newest and most unique snack food available in the universe. Not just the country, or even the world. The universe. Eat your heart out, Curiosity rover. Whatever you wind up finding on Mars, it won’t be anything like Deano’s Jalapeño Chips. Deano knows this.
I still didn’t really understand what these chips were, though. At first glance, it doesn’t sound that new or unique at all. Jalapeño chips? Welcome to the rest of the snack aisle, Mr. Duckworth.
But as I read on, I discovered that Deano was on to something different. To quote their website, “…everyone was trying to make their potato chips taste like jalapenos. Why not just use a real jalapeno!”
Why not, indeed! To explain a little further: “The award-winning flavor of Deano’s Jalapenos comes from the fact that there are no potatoes involved. Instead, this handcrafted snack is made from fresh jalapeno peppers that are sliced paper thin, kettle fried to a spicy crisp, and given a dusting of sharp cheddar, ranch or sea salt. It’s a snack that packs a late-hitting heat with a warm, salty flavor that becomes just a little addictive.”
Fresh, fried jalapeños? I was sold. And just a few days later, I had a lovely little package in my mailbox. To my delight, this included one package of each flavor. Here we go!
Deano’s Jalapeño Real Sliced Chips Sea Salt
I like the package design, in terms of both aesthetics and practicality. First off, Deano has chosen to go the pouch route with a tear-off resealable top. The use of the resealable top in the snack world strikes me as fairly recent; off the top of my head, it seems most popular with things like beef jerky and…well, beef jerky is all I can think of right now.
I’ve only encountered one line of chips that employs the resealable top, and the first time I saw it, I thought, why isn’t every chip manufacturer doing this? The only answer I could think of is that they’re in with Big Chip Clip. It’s like cans that haven’t yet employed pull-tab top technology – I now get irritated any time I have to use a can opener, and it’s not just because I’m left-handed.
Deano’s is a small company, however, and they don’t kowtow to Chip Clips. Thus, the glorious resealable pouch.
Each of Deano’s three varieties of chips has a different design that ties in with the flavor. With Sea Salt, we are transported to a tropical island, complete with palm tree, waves, seagulls, and a wooden surfboard.
I want to lounge on a beach while my Deano’s Jalapeño Real Sliced Chips Sea Salt are served with a Mai Tai by a hunky shirtless man who does not speak English.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened the bag. I had no idea what actual fried, sliced jalapeño chips would look like. Now that I’ve seen them? Well, they aren’t exactly pretty, but they do look pretty authentico.
Upon first glance, it was obvious that these are, indeed, real jalapeños, that have, indeed, been fried, and have also, indeed, been covered in sea salt. Truth in advertising, this is.
Deano’s Jalapeño Chips can rival any other chip in the crunch category, thanks to being fried, and they are also deliciously salty, thanks to the giant chunks of sea salt visible on each piece. Unfortunately, I had a lot less slices and a lot more broken pieces, which could have been due to shipping, but it also gave it the odd appearance of looking like fried seaweed.
While the salt and crunch were excellent, I struggled to find the true taste of the jalapeño pepper inside the chip. Oh, don’t get me wrong; Deano’s brought the heat. That part was unmistakable, and kept building as I ate, until I was wishing for that Mai Tai.
However, part of the reason I love fresh jalapeños is their flavor, and I had a hard time finding it here. Maybe it was the frying process. Maybe the heat overwhelmed it. But the true taste of the pepper got a little lost somewhere. While that was disappointing, I still found myself tossing these crunchy little critters in my mouth, even as that genuine pepper heat started to make my nose run. Snot just adds to the flavor!
Deano’s Jalapeño Real Sliced Chips Cheddar
Deano’s took a mildly different turn on their Cheddar Jalapeño Chip packaging. Added are the phrases “try a slice of spice” and “made in Vermont”, which should inspire confidence, because when I think spicy peppers, I think…Vermont.
Cheddar’s packaging has the standard Deano’s logo, but varies from Sea Salt in ways I find, frankly, confusing. Gone is the surfer/beach theme, now replaced with…flames? I don’t know what cheddar has to do with flames. They’re still jalapeño chips, which means they’re all hot, right? And what’s with the generic green tattered-edge cheddar logo? That would have been a good place to stick a cheese wedge or something.
I want to be surrounded by kokopellis and cute little gecko lizards while I eat Deano’s Jalapeño Real Sliced Chips Cheddar. A man wearing a sombrero and poncho should bring me a margarita.
More slices and less broken pieces in this one. Also, a familiar friend – neon orange flavor powder!
Having eaten pretty much every one of Frito-Lay’s 2,000 “cheese plus spicy flavored” chip iterations, I was curious to see how Jalapeño Real Sliced Chips would compare. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the cheddar flavor tasted more like actual cheese than your run-of-the-mill cheese-flavored chips.
The spicy heat was present, just like with the Sea Salt variety, but I actually found more of the jalapeño pepper flavor itself present in in Cheddar chips. I have no idea why, but it was there, and it was welcome. The pepper flavor, the heat and the cheddar all worked in unison to create a delicious crunchy snack.
Deano’s Jalapeño Real Sliced Chips Ranch
Let’s call Deano’s Cheddar packaging a misstep, because Ranch brings it back around. Here we have a beautiful sunset as a backdrop to some cacti and desert brush. The flavor is announced on a perfectly appropriate wooden sign that is askew, because every ranch sign should be askew. And check out that jalapeño – it’s been lassoed. Yee-haw!
I want a dude to ride up on his horse and pull me up onto the saddle as a woman in a pearl-studded cowboy shirt rings a triangle, letting us know it’s time to eat some Deano’s Jalapeño Real Sliced Chips Ranch. I would also like to be served a mug shaped like a cowboy boot containing some Shiner Bock to compliment my chips.
The Ranch Jalapeño Chips looked remarkably similar to the Sea Salt variety; there was no dusting of little red and green flecks that I generally associate with ranch-flavored chips.
At first glance, I attributed this to Deano’s being a smaller company that used more “authentic” means of flavoring. Don’t ask me what authentic ranch flavor powder consists of; I was just giving them the benefit of the doubt.
Unfortunately, it seems that the ranch flavoring was hard to find because it wasn’t really there in the first place. I caught a bit of the familiar tanginess of typical ranch chip flavoring as an aftertaste, but for the most part, Deano’s Ranch Jalapeño Chips suffered the same problems as Sea Salt – nice heat, but little pepper flavor. At least with the Sea Salt variety you got a lot of saltiness to go with your heat; with Ranch, it was mostly just crunch and spice, through and through.
I had high hopes for Deano’s Jalapeño Real Sliced Chips. In the end, there were ups and downs. If you want to compare them to regular chips that claim to be spicy, Deano’s definitely wins. They’ve also got a great crunch to them. Out of the three varieties, I enjoyed the Cheddar the most, but the other two fell short on delivering the true flavor of jalapeño, and while the Sea Salt was, indeed, salty, the Ranch chips couldn’t bring the flavor.
Despite some their shortcomings, I still found myself liking Deano’s Jalapeño Real Sliced Chips in general. They are, indeed, quite the unique snack. You’re going to look way cooler eating a bag of Deano’s than a regular ol’ bag of Doritos. Even if looks like you’re eating fried seaweed while snot runs down your face.
(Editor’s Note: Deano’s Jalapeño Real Sliced Chips were provided for free courtesy of Deano’s Jalapeños. Thanks, Mr. Duckworth!)
Deano’s Jalapeño Real Sliced Chips Sea Salt, Cheddar and Ranch
- Score (Sea Salt): 3 out of 5 people who think you’re eating fried seaweed
- Score (Cheddar): 4 out of 5 missed cheese wedge opportunities
- Score (Ranch): 2.5 out of 5 cowbells
- Price: Free!
- Size: 2.25 oz. bags/pouches
- Purchased at: Received in the mail for free, but once Deano’s Jalapeños website comes back up, you should be able to purchase them there.
- Nutritional Quirks: Real fried jalapeño slices. Beat that, Doritos! Also, the Ranch variety contains parsley. Parsley…ranch?