Proper Crisps

The other day we were wandering through Marks & Spencer, when the power of subliminal advertising gave me a great plan: buy some crisps.

Now I fondly remember years ago getting a Saturday night treat of M&S beef and onion crisps, but over the past few years the general quality of crisps has gone into a steady decline. The food police have convinced (almost) everyone that having a bag of a crisps every now and again as a treat is a Bad Thing. We must instead be nannied into eating the oxymoronic “healthier crisps” because there are a several fatties wandering around who just couldn’t say no to a third bag during that 15 minute fag break. And they eat them as a main meal too.

This has caused crisp manufacturers to come back with such delightful ideas as:

  • frying the potato in different type of oil, which usually tastes crap: the manufacturers stuck with the original one years ago because it tasted the best!
  • “reduced salt crisps” – I’m not advocating a new Walker’s “High Blood Pressure” special range, but come on!
  • “hand cooked crisps” – I don’t think this is billed as being particularly healthier, but it’s usually applied to the more upmarket crisps to give a certain gravitas to their appeal on the shelf in Sainsbury’s. By the way, what the hell exactly makes a crisp “hand cooked”?

And all of that before we even get started on the “exotic” flavours. There used to be a bag of crisps available called “cheese & onion”. I wasn’t particularly fond of them, but they existed. Then the marketing bods decided that “cheese & onion” just couldn’t cut it in the marketplace these days. So some of the more expensive brands (you know the ones) changed the titles to something like “Cheddar and Red Onion”. I liked them – still cheese & onion, but they were a little different. All was good, but unfortunately that didn’t last long.

They then ditched what was a perfectly good snack (or two if you had the discipline to put away half of a big bag), and changed it to what I believe is now called “Vintage Cheddar and Red Onion Chutney”. Now these are horrible – I’m not a big fan of chutneys and the flavouring on these things is far too sharp. We were back to the same problem as the healthier crisps – the crisps were fine originally, but then the makers fiddled with them and things went wrong.

But now things are good having discovered these wonderful M&S beef and onion crisps. Of course they’re not called “M&S Beef and Onion crisps”. I forget the original the official title, but I would imagine it’s along the lines of “This isn’t just a bag of crisps, it’s a Marks and Spencer bag of Tenderly-Reared Matured Beef and Organic Corn-Fed Onion potato chips”. Either way: it’s in a brown bag, in the snacks section of your local M&S store – highly recommended!

The other hope is that with all these new superlatives being applied to what is essentially fried, flavoured potato, you might get a bigger bag to fit all the lettering on. Do you heck!

Note for Americans who understand vi – :%s/crisps/chips/g