Kettle Chips Suck

My friend Neal recently told me that he was glad to see some activity on my blog again. I think the problem is that I am always so busy with one thing or another that writing blog entries becomes a very low priority. However, sometimes something comes along that I simply¬†have to get off my chest. Today, it is this modest proposal: “kettle”-style potato chips should be wiped off the face of the Earth.

A few weeks ago, the New York Times Sunday magazine ran an excerpt from a new book titled¬†Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss. I found the article so sinister and terrifying that I demanded that we make a major lifestyle change: bags of potato chips would no longer be a staple item in our home. Moss reveals how Frito-Lay used a psychologist named Ernest Dichter to get around people’s objections to eating chips; the end result was that “the largest weight-inducing food was the potato chip. The coating of salt, the fat content that rewards the brain with instant feelings of pleasure, the sugar that exists not as an additive but in the starch of the potato itself–all of this combines to make it the perfect addictive food.” I insisted Joe read the article. “Potato chips are an addictive food!” I cried. “You can eat half a pound of chips in a sitting without blinking an eye. We have to stop buying them!”

Surprisingly, he agreed to this. (He then proceeded to drop five pounds. That is why women who are trying to lose or maintain weight hate men. The female fat cell is far more tenacious.) While I banned large bags of chips, however, I figured single-serving bags were all right. I mean, you can’t overeat if your bag only contains one ounce of chips!

We are regular patrons of Saturday’s Off the Grid food truck market at Alameda’s South Shore shopping center (slogan: “Sure, half of our storefronts are empty, but we’ve got a Trader Joe’s!”). This past Saturday, both Joe and I purchased sandwiches, from separate trucks. Both of our sandwiches came with chips. Kettle chips. There was no alternative available.

Back when big bags of chips were welcome in our home, I always bought Lay’s Lightly Salted. To me, they were everything you want from a chip: light, crisp, delicious, just salty enough. Why would anyone prefer a kettle chip–thick, greasy, hard, stale-tasting–to the wonder that is a classic thin chip? Kettle chips were certainly nowhere to be found during my childhood, and yet, these nouveau chips seem to be the rage these days, especially in your more “upscale” environs. I don’t understand it. “They are like eating a bag full of roof shingles,” says one astute commenter on “They are an abomination.” YES. Yes they are.

Personally, I believe that potato chips should come in one flavor: potato. Joe enjoys barbecue chips, but I refuse to go near him after he has eaten them because I find that artificial smoke flavor to be so distasteful. Yes, regular thin and crispy potato chips come in flavors other than plain–besides BBQ, there’s dill pickle, BLT, and various other horrors–but kettle chips always seem to be pushing the envelope of weird flavors. Mango habanero? Maple bacon? Roasted red pepper with goat cheese? There is no reason for these flavors to exist!

But here’s the worst part: we get sandwiches accompanied by roof-shingle-style chips, and we eat them anyway. Because they are chips, and even bad chips are an addictive food.

From now on, if somebody tries to give me a bag of these hard, nasty snacks, they’re going into the compost heap. Kettle chips: just say no.

12 thoughts on “Kettle Chips Suck”

  1. A little over the top?!!! Personally I like Kettle chips, plain, barbeque or sour cream. I eat so little salt that every so often I binge on a small bag. Lately we have been trying the Pop chips-they are mainly air nicely packaged. I don’t know how to combat the obesity problem-but smaller serving all round at home and especially in restaurants, plus more physical activity would go a long way. I am a little tired of the ‘let’s be afraid of food’ movement.Even if potato chips are very dubious food.

  2. Well, I was being a little over the top, yeah. But seriously, everyone should read that excerpt from “Salt Sugar Fat.” It is eye-opening. American consumers don’t stand a chance against the psychological techniques employed by Big Food. Also, Peter Hartlaub of the Chronicle, who regularly does photo essays on his blog, recently featured a bunch of pix from the early 70s taken at Bay Area fast food joints. The “large” cups of soda were practically thimble-sized compared to today’s servings! And we wonder why people have gained so much weight…

  3. There is no doubt that restaurants have increased portions. In the early 80s when Marc and i regularly did road trips, I could eat a stack, 3, of pancakes. by the end of our travels, 1992, I had to request only one. We would also see families where everyone was obese, including the young children. I don’t know it will take to reduce portion sizes.

  4. The end of subsidies for corn would be a start. Sodas are cheap because corn syrup is cheap. Hasn’t a 2 liter bottle of soda cost around 99 cents (on sale, anyway) for at least 20 years?

  5. Kettle cooked chips I will eat if there is nothing else to snack on. I don’t but them but very occasionally they some how end up in the kitchen in those baby bags. Yes they do suck. Pretty bad if you ask me.

  6. Maybe if you have a weak jaw kettle chips are like roof shingles. I personally prefer them to the glass-shard-esque regular kind. They’re no more greasy than regular ones, and they take a LOT longer to go stale.

    I’m sorry you’re intimidated by flavor.

    Eating Mesquite BBQ kettle chips right now, actually. *CRUUUNCH*

    P.S. Of COURSE chips shouldn’t be a staple food, JFC…

  7. Kettle chips absolutely are terrible, they just taste like regular chips if you left the bag open for a week, they’re awful. Thank you for taking up this cause, we need to destroy these hipsters pushing this garbage food – regular potato chips are much better and be flavored just the same.

  8. Hi my name is Dar and I am a potato chip addict. I’ve been one since I was given a nickel as a child and bought my first bag. This article was funny! I HATE kettle chips. I agree that they’re hard, greasy and taste like they’ve been cooked in 5 year old oil. I too LOVE Lays Lightly Salted. I’m a purist so I just only like the “potato” flavor : – ). Just thought I’d add my two cents. Amazing what we folks will write about these days ; -)

  9. I am “on board” with the crusade against kettle cooked chips.
    They’re awful. I’ve seen many vendors who only sell kettle cooked
    chips and I ask “who likes these things”?
    Could we add sweet potato fries to the list of horrible food ideas?

  10. I have come to the conclusion that the “kettle” chip idea was born from covering up the nasty fried, hard, and tasteless GMO potatoes. Has anyone purchased a regular bag of Ruffles or Lay’s potato chips, lately? They don’t claim to be “kettle” style, but their hard stale texture is very similar to the kettle ones. At the time I realized this, I had an almost empty leftover bag of Ruffles, and a new one I had just opened, so I did a taste-test between them. The opened bag of chips was tender and tasted like they always had, so I read the ingredients, to see if there was a difference. The opened bag did NOT list the term “genetically engineered,” but the new bag did!!!! So, in my humble opinion, the “kettle” style chips are really a cover-up for the GMO crap!

  11. Just had a bag of kettle chips
    greasy mouth and greasy hands
    Absolutely right about stale tasting. disgust
    Went for it only because they ran out of the walkers in the wending machine.
    not sure how I managed to finish the whole packet though:)
    Working in IT doesn’t make you realise what you eat and how much.

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