I frequently get emails from readers who ask why ALL I eat is chocolate. It’s a reasonable question- I do eat a serious amount of it. But I actually prefer savoury foods in general, and in particular I’m a big fan of crisps. (Or ‘chips’ as Americans and Australians insist on calling them!) I first found Popchips on sale at Liverpool Street station in London, and have bought them whenever I’ve seen them ever since. So when Popchips offered to send me their flavours to review…I jumped at the opportunity. Today I’m looking at their Barbecue flavour as well as their Salt and Vinegar.
Popchips’ single serving bags like these come In 23g packets. They don’t make a big deal out of it on the packaging but they are essentially ‘healthier’ crisps. These bags, for instance, contain less than 100 calories and have 50% less fat than the equivalent amount of regular crisps. That’s because of the cooking process- Popchips use the slogan “never fried, never baked”. I don’t fully understand what they DO do to the potatoes, but the packet describes applying high pressure to them. Don’t understand either? Well it’s a good job that we’re only being asked to eat them and not MAKE them then!
The company formed in the U.S, and have expanded to Britain relatively recently. Given how established Walkers are in British culture (I know some people who claim to have never eaten any crisps other than Walkers’ stuff) it takes balls to compete against them. So either Popchips are crazy, or they have balls like space hoppers. Or both. But after a smaller launch (like I said, I only found them in a pokey WHSmith in London and hadn’t seen them anywhere else)things must have gone well for them as you can now find them in the largest supermarkets like Sainsburys, Tesco, Waitrose etc. And those supermarkets don’t take on failing brands.
The pictures shown thus far have been the Barbecue crisps. The bag itself is tidy without looking amazing, but it was after opening the packet that things got interesting. When I hear ‘health’ crisps and ‘lower fat’ and stuff, I immediately assume that those products are likely to suck. Why? Because fat tastes good. Sugar tastes good. Remove them and you normally end up with bland, soulless food. But when I opened the Barbecue crisps up, they smelt delicious and (most importantly) full of flavour. They had all of the smokiness and sweetness of a traditional barbecue crisp and more.
Popchips also manage to give them a nice orangey colour without using any fake colours too.
You get a decent portion of about 18 or 20 circular crisps in the bag, undoubtedly slightly smaller than some bags but enough to fill a hole as a snack. The taste is tangy and slightly sweet like all barbecue flavoured products should be, and I completely forgot that these were a ‘healthier’ option which is a good sign.
The texture is different to most crisps. Popchips are more ‘airy’ and light and don’t have the heavy greasiness that conventional crisps tend to. They’re almost like mini-rice cakes I guess.
So the Barbecue flavoured Popchips were a big hit with me. Great flavour (much more natural tasting than Walkers’ barbeque crisps for instance which taste synthetic and fake) and a little bit better for me too.
What about their Salt and Vinegar variety? The salt and vinegar flavour combination is probably my favourite. I love salt and vinegar crisps, I love salt and vinegar on my fish and chips…it’s just a brilliant combination of tastes in my opinion. I don’t think other countries have the same obsession with salt and vinegar crisps but in England they are HUGE. Along with cheese and onion and plain/salted, they are the big three flavours.
These paler coloured bad boys smelt delicious- intense, acidic vinegar basically singed my nostrils which is fine by me!
The flavour didn’t match up the barbecue variety though. They had the usual acidity of vinegar but lacked the super saltiness to contrast that. They weren’t bad at all- in fact I’d have another bag in a flash. But these felt like a ‘healthy/less fat/less fun’ crisp unlike the Barbecue variety which managed to combine both healthiness with awesome, lively flavours. The Salt and Vinegar have an average flavour which is on par with McCoys/Walkers and the like. Nothing special but a decent alternative for people looking to make the ‘right’ choices.
Popchips’ Barbecue crisps were brilliant. I’ve never found a product until now where I PREFER the healthier option. But give me a bag of these over regular crisps any day- they have more flavour, a nice texture and are extremely satisfying and filling. As for the Salt and Vinegar crisps, they’re probably about level with something like the Walkers Baked range- the taste solid but unspectacular and lack the ‘wow’ factor of the smoky barbecue variety.
I really like the brand as a whole as I’m sure you can tell, and I was amazed at the company’s friendliness when I had contact with them too- they were open and fun to talk to which is nice. I’ve come across plenty of smug, arrogant companies who have been rude and patronising. These guys were welcoming, keen to chat and passionate.
Popchips are very much recommended!
Salt and Vinegar rating- 6.8/10
Barbecue rating- 8.6/10