Tag Archives: kettle chips

Tabasco Fiasco!

As we all know, the Internet is a magical place where you can buy just about anything your little heart desires. However, this can easily backfire on you. We’ve all experienced it: that drunken 3am purchase of Transformers: The Complete Series off of Amazon that set you back $200. Maybe that Groupon for 90% off pedicures was a deal too great to pass up, until you remembered you hate people touching your feet. Maybe you bought a vintage 1980s GI Joe ID bracelet off eBay for $30 in a fit of nostalgia, even though you’re a grown man and it won’t even fit on your admittedly skinny wrists. (True story.)

The point here, obviously, is that we’ve all made that impulsive purchase off the Internet that we either completely regretted or just wondered what the hell we were thinking. As you may have guessed, this review is being written in the spirit of this concept. In this case, however, there was a series of events that led up to me owning a Tabasco lollipop. I will spell out the scenario:

I walk through the front door of my apartment. How It’s Made, a show about, well, how things are made, is on the TV. I like to keep my cats company with the dulcet tones of Brooks Moore, which I’m sure they appreciate. It just so happens that they’re showing how Tabasco is made. I stop, transfixed, because Tabasco is awesome and I was eager to learn their terrible secrets of deliciousness. At the end, they show all the different flavors Tabasco makes. I’d seen most at the store, but one flavor stood out: Garlic Pepper.

Garlic Pepper! I’ve never seen that in any store! I had the brilliant idea of checking to see if I could buy it off the Internet. Well, of course I could. Tabasco has its own online store, and they offer a 6-pack “Family of Flavors” that offers all the flavors. In addition, I could get a free bottle of their newest flavor, Buffalo Style, with any purchase. Sold!

I made a critical mistake, however; instead of just impulsively spending an inappropriate amount of money on condiments, I thought, hey, maybe I’ll just look around the Tabasco Country Store a little bit. Just for kicks.

And that is when it happened.

Oh, hello. There’s a whole section labeled snacks! What’s this now? Popcorn? SPAM?! Ice cream mix?! It was a whole world of crazy for which I was entirely unprepared. My mind reeled. I was powerless. And that is the story about how I now have ten bottles of various Tabascos in my house and wound up being the not-exactly-proud owner of Zapp’s Spicy Creole Tomato Potato Chips and a Tabasco Lollipop. In seven paragraphs.

On the bright side, I’ve got a (relatively) new flavor of Tabasco that was free, a bag of potato chips from a brand I’ve never seen, and a hot sauce lollipop that most of you will probably never try, and for good reason. These three factors doth a JFB review make. Let’s see if I can save this Tabasco Fiasco by turning it into something entertaining enough to justify paying two dollars for a hot sauce sucker. I think we know who the real sucker is.

Tabasco Buffalo Style Hot Sauce

The box that my bottle of Tabasco Buffalo Style came in claims that it is “buffalo style, perfected.” It went even further, saying, “Once you try new Tabasco Buffalo Style Hot Sauce, you’ll see that it stands heads and horns above the rest. It’s a thick sauce, so it sticks to things better. And it has just the right amount of heat, so it does more than make one-of-a-kind wings.”

It goes on to describe all the different uses for the sauce that you already know about, because if you have half a brain you can figure out that you can use buffalo sauce for more than just wings. I also like that they break down the idea that thick sauce sticks to things better. Physics lesson learned; thanks Tabasco!


Two-day-old leftover Extra Crispy drumstick courtesy of KFC.

I did find that it was indeed thicker than say, Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, but it wasn’t quite as thick as I thought it would be, which was a little disappointing. It’s about as thick as Tapatio hot sauce, if that gives you a fair comparison.

As for the taste, at first I thought, “Well, it tastes like buffalo sauce. What more can I say.” But that didn’t sit quite right with me. Then I realized I’d only tried it on the chicken. I had to taste it in its pure form. So I found myself, once again, standing in my kitchen, pantsless…sucking on a bottle of hot sauce.

I’m glad I did, because I think it gave me some clarity in regards to both texture and flavor. Tabasco Buffalo Style isn’t as thick as I thought it would be, but I think that little bump in thickness really does make a difference. Furthermore, I feel like there’s a balance of heat and vinegar twang that other buffalo sauces lack. With some other sauces, I sometimes feel like I’m being hit over the head with vinegar, but Tabasco hit a nice balance. Between the thicker texture and the flavor balance, I’d say Tabasco has made my favorite buffalo sauce yet. Way to go, Tabasco!

Zapp’s Potato Chips Spicy Creole Tomato Spiked with Tabasco

There’s a lot going on here, just in the name of these chips. Spicy! Creole! Tomato…? Spiked with Tabasco! So many flavors in one bag! I like the design; it looks kind of like they went old school. Either that, or Zapp’s hasn’t actually changed their design in 40 years. I’m fine with either one.

Even the back of the bag is adorable in its quaintness. If ZPCSCTSwT’s bag was a website, a little envelope would be sliding in and out of that mailbox, and there would probably be dancing Tabasco logo GIFs. Maybe there would be an embedded MIDI of a banjo playing (Zapp’s is proudly from Louisiana, after all). The background would be eye-burningly orangish-red and all the font would be minty green and probably Comic Sans. It doesn’t hurt that they call their website a “FunSite” on the bag.

However, I shouldn’t judge a chip by its cover. Let’s see how spicy, creole, tomato and Tabasco all work together!

As you can see at the bottom of the front of the bag, these aren’t just potato chips, they’re also kettle chips. And they kettle well, hitting that sweet spot of being thick and crunchy without being so thick they threaten to break your teeth and stab your gums.

With words like “spicy”, “spiked” and “Tabasco” in the product’s title, you’d think you would be immediately hit with a blast of heat. Not so much, here. There was a little heat, but it didn’t really build to anything that would have you running for the milk jug. They did hit the Tabasco note, however; the classic combination of spice and vinegar was prominent.

That leaves tomato and Creole. I found tomato an odd choice of flavoring, especially considering how many other flavors were in the pool. Surprisingly, under the initial Tabasco taste, there was a subtle yet noticeable tomato flavor that worked well with the Tabasco.

As for Creole, can’t say I was sold on that one. First off, “Creole” is not really a flavor, it’s more of a style of cuisine. I gave Zapp’s a pass, however, because you could argue that they meant “the flavors of Creole cuisine”. Unfortunately for Zapp’s, I can’t give them a pass on actually representing the flavors of Creole. There were hints of onion, and yeah, there’s some spiciness, but I feel like Zapp’s thinks they can get away with throwing “Creole” in with impunity because they’re from Louisiana. I would have been perfectly fine with just “Spicy Tomato Spiked with Tabasco”.

Nitpicking aside, I did enjoy ZPCSCTSwT overall. While the spiciness never reached the height I was expecting, the more I ate the chips, the more I found that I enjoyed that level of heat and it was pretty spot-on with Tabasco, as was the level of vinegar. That, along with the underlying flavors of tomato and onion, as well as a satisfying crunch, make Zapp’s Potato Chips Spicy Creole Tomato Spiked with Tabasco an enjoyable snack. It’s a shame and also dangerous that the only way I can get these chips again is by going on the Internet. Explaining to my parents that I have to move back in with them because I went broke buying Tabasco products online would be pretty embarrassing.

Tabasco Lollipop

Speaking of embarrassing, we come to the final impulse item, the Tabasco Lollipop. But listen, I can explain.

I have a serious oral fixation (save the jokes) and self-diagnosed Restless Hand Syndrome, which means I’m constantly fiddling with things and have to choose between chain smoking, constantly eating and thus becoming too fat to fit through my doorway, chewing gum, or sucking on hard candy. My lungs already hate me, I like being able to see my toes, and I don’t have a sweet tooth. I’ve found myself occasionally wishing someone would make a gum that tasted like meat, but quickly realized that would be a horrible idea.

So, when I saw the Tabasco Lollipop, I thought, perfect! A hot sauce hard candy that will keep both my hands and my mouth occupied (again, with the jokes) while filling my mouth with delicious spiciness.

That did not work out. From my very first suck (STOP IT) I knew exactly what this “Tabasco” sucker really tasted like:


I loved Atomic Fireballs as a kid. At some point, I was in a class where the teacher handed them out as rewards for stuff like good grades or generally not acting like an asshole. We would all sit around, seeing who could keep the candy in their mouths the longest before giving in. For those unfamiliar with Atomic Fireballs, they taste like cinnamon and burn like hell. That may not sound fun, but somehow, it is.

One problem I have with this sucker is the size. I know I have a small mouth, but I think most people would have a hard time fitting the whole thing in (SHUT UP). On the plus side, the large size means that you’ll get a lot of candy bang for your buck. Two bucks, in this case. Plus, you’d have to have a pretty strong constitution to keep it in your mouth for any long period of time.

So, Tabasco Lollipops taste absolutely nothing like Tabasco. That’s a pretty big fail. On the other hand, they taste like Atomic Fireballs, which is great. Makes it difficult to grade. I think I’ll split the difference and call it fair.

Thus ends our tour of the Tabasco Fiasco. Turned out pretty okay, if you ask me. I have a new favorite buffalo sauce, some tasty chips, and a lollipop that will probably take me a month to get through. Some impulsive Internet purchases end in regret; this one resulted in some surprisingly good stuff. And a really long review.

Oh, and the Tabasco Garlic Pepper Hot Sauce? Pretty darn good.  The garlic adds an interesting dimension.  3.5 out of 5.

Tabasco Buffalo Style Hot Sauce

  • Score: 4.5 out of 5 “horns above the rest”
  • Price: Free! (With purchase)
  • Size: 5 oz. bottle
  • Purchased at: Tabasco Country Store
  • Nutritional Quirks: No surprises here, just a solid buffalo sauce!

Zapp’s Potato Chips Spicy Creole Tomato Spiked with Tabasco

  • Score: 4 out of 5 embedded MIDI banjo songs
  • Price: $1.25
  • Size: 2 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Tabasco Country Store
  • Nutritional Quirks: Creole suspiciously missing from chips made in Louisiana

Tabasco Lollipop

  • Score: 3 out of 5 Atomic Fireball contests
  • Price: $2.00
  • Size: 1 lollipop
  • Purchased at: Tabasco Country Store
  • Nutritional Quirks: Does not taste at all like Tabasco, but does taste just like an Atomic Fireball!

Lay’s Kettle Cooked Creamy Mediterranean Herb Flavored Potato Chips

Lay’s recently introduced two new flavors to their Kettle Cooked line of potato chips. What a boring introductory sentence. They say the first sentence can make or break a novel. If you don’t hook your reader fast, you may have already lost them. So let’s try again.

In a move that rocked the world of snack food, Lay’s dropped a major bombshell in introducing two extraordinary new flavors to their already mind-shattering line of Kettle Cooked potato chips.

There, that’s better. The two (amazing!) flavors are Spicy Cayenne & Cheese and Creamy Mediterranean Herb. Spicy Cayenne & Cheese sounds kind of boring. Spicy and cheese, in chip form?! Alert the presses!

Creamy Mediterranean Herb, however…now that’s something unique. I was intrigued by these chips mostly for the addition of the word “creamy” in the product name. Creamy herbs? Creamy Mediterranean herbs? What the fuck is that? What does that even mean? I was already down with Mediterranean herbs; I love me some hummus, feta, olives, gyros, you name it. Mediterranean almost always gets a thumbs up in my book. Throw “creamy” out in front and you’ve definitely got my attention. I must know what creamy herbs taste like.

This would be the part where I actually tell you what the chips taste like, but that would make for a dangerously short review, and we can’t have that. Luckily, Snack Chat comes through once again with this little throwaway tidbit of information I spotted between a pair of parentheses: “(Fun fact: “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi and Frito-Lay executive chef Stephen Kalil cooked at the live billboard in Times Square today with Lay’s Kettle Cooked Creamy Mediterranean Herb.”

Oh really, Snack Chat. Sexyhot Padma McChefJudge cooking with the chips? What kind of craziness could this produce? No link was provided, but it didn’t take much Google-Fu to find a video of this event. The video is 15 minutes long and disappointingly boring, so I’ll just break it down for you.

As stated, Padma and Kalil are cooking two stories above the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square. Unfortunately, they are not cooking with chips. Basically, Padma panders to Frito-Lay, gushing about how amazing it is that they’re aiming to have half their products all-natural by the end of the year. Kalil then takes two “sweet and spicy” recipes out of Padma’s cookbook and combines them, an amazing culinary feat that causes Padma to make a foodgasm face upon tasting. The only interesting thing that happens in this video is when a giant fire truck goes by with sirens and horns blaring, forcing them to stop complimenting each other and stand around awkwardly for 30 seconds until the noise subsides.

Well, perhaps not the only interesting thing. Amongst all the fawning over Padma’s recipes and unexpected fire truck interruptions, they did manage to talk about the chips a bit. Kalil revealed a bit about the process of creating all-natural flavors, stating that they started creating the flavor of Creamy Mediterranean Herb with some goat cheese and “citrus herb”, which consisted of lemon zest, orange zest, and ground cardamom. They played around with different cheeses, finally settling on a mixture of marscapone, Boursin, and something else I couldn’t make out because the video skipped.

Padma, however, kept insisting they tasted like a “couture version of sour cream and onion”, which probably made Kalil fume and made her look like a dumbass after proclaiming earlier that she became a cook because she had such a sensitive palate. She also claimed that an associate and she “blew through a whole bag” one night, which I refuse to believe unless she also “blew chunks” afterwards. Bitch don’t stay skinny scarfing down half a bag of potato chips. I don’t care how all-natural they are.

In the end, the video wasn’t a complete waste of 15 minutes of my life. At the very least, I got a tiny glimpse into Frito-Lay’s test kitchen ways, and I learned that Boursin is a cheese, which I had never heard of before. It’s interesting that Kalil focused mainly on the cheese, since the name of the chips focuses on the herbs and doesn’t mention cheese at all. I guess that he can’t reveal all of their trade secrets. I respect his cheesy deflection.

I try to go into each of my reviews blind, having no knowledge of ingredients or other people’s opinions on the taste of a product, but after watching the video, I’ve obviously been tainted.  At the very least, I can go into it seeing if I can detect the flavors described by Kalil.  Or I can see if they taste like “couture sour cream and onion”.  You’re lucky you’re so hot, Padma, because I kind of want to throw a hot bowl of some Top Chef contestant’s failed consummé with celery foam in your face right now.  I could make your face match your arm.  OHHH LOW BLOW

Before I wind up getting sued by Bravo for making assault threats, I should probably move on to the chips themselves.  Here they are!

I’ve never had Lay’s Kettle chips before, but I have had Kettle brand kettle chips, and I was surprised at how small Lay’s version are by comparison.  After some thought, I decided that’s actually a good thing – with smaller chips, the likelihood of having a piece of potato shrapnel lodge into your gums is reduced, which is always a good thing.  And Lay’s Kettle Cooked had just the right amount of crunch, without being so thick you’re afraid you’re going to chip a tooth.

There were a lot of layers of flavor in Creamy Mediterranean Herb, but none of them managed to be overwhelming.  The onion and garlic hit my taste buds first, and then the cheese kicks in.  I was surprised by the flavor of the cheese – mainly, that it actually tasted like cheese, instead of neon-orange artificial cheese-flavored powder.  It didn’t hit you over the head, but it made its presence known in a good way.

Strangely, I found myself thinking that these chips actually did taste creamy.  Creamy chips sound gross, but it was the authenticity of the cheese flavor that made the impression.  Well, you got me, Lay’s – you managed to make your chips taste creamy. Your product name actually makes sense.

But what about the Mediterranean herbs?  The final layer took a little time to show itself, but I was grateful it did, because the lingering mixture of cheese, basil and oregano made my mouth happy well after I’d finished eating the chips.  Basil and oregano definitely qualify as Mediterranean herbs, so our product name has come full circle.  The back of the bag confirms this, saying, “Real basil and oregano come together with rich white cheddar to bring the savory taste of Mediterranean cuisine to these flavorful chips.”

Wait a second, here.  White cheddar?  What happened to the marscapone?  The Boursin?  The other cheese that I’ll never know because of a video glitch?  Well, I guess that doesn’t matter now, because the ingredient list confirms that cheddar cheese is, indeed, the only cheese used to flavor these chips.  What the fuck, Stephen Kalil?  You filthy liar.  Both marscapone and Boursin are creamy cheeses, which would make perfect sense in the context of these chips, but instead, I get white cheddar.  I feel betrayed.

Despite my disappointment in finding out I’m eating white cheddar chips and not fancy Boursin chips, I really enjoyed Lay’s Kettle Cooked Creamy Mediterranean Herb Flavored Potato Chips.  I liked the smaller size of the chip, thought the crunch was just right, and appreciated the layers of flavor that slowly unfolded over my palate instead of hitting me on the head.  My one complaint (besides that liar Stephen Kalil) is that the onion and the garlic may have come on too strong in the beginning; I enjoyed their participation, but would have liked the basil and oregano to be stronger players up front.  I have a feeling this bag of chips won’t last long; this isn’t one of those snacks that languish in my cupboard after a review until they’re stale and have to be thrown out.  Fortunately, I don’t host a chef reality show on tv, so if I blow through the bag in one night, I won’t have to taste them a second time afterwards.  (Sorry for being so hard on you Padma; you’re still sexyhot.  Call me!)

  • Score: 4 out of 5 awkwardly-timed fire engines
  • Price: $2.49 (on sale; regular price $3.49)
  • Size: 8 1/2 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Safeway #1717
  • Nutritional Quirks: No marscapone. No Boursin. Just white cheddar. 🙁