Sunday, February 14, 2016

Fresh Finds Jalapeno Popper Kettle Cooked Gourmet Potato Chips (Big Lots)

Misleading name, surprisingly delicious chip.
One thing I don’t understand is why chip companies lately seem to have shifted toward tabloid-style sensationalism when naming their products.  Every day, more and more, it seems we’re bombarded with “Hot Dog” flavored potato chips (which really just taste like ketchup and relish), or buffalo hot wing flavored chips (which really just taste like chips with buffalo seasoning).  Do they not realize they’re alienating more fans than they are earning with these ridiculous concoctions?

The latest offender of this rule is Big Lots, whose own Fresh Finds label has released a “Jalapeno Popper” potato chip, complete with an image of a cream cheese-filled popper at the bottom.  For someone that complains about these all the time, why do I buy them?  Simply because I like trying something new—I never have high expectations for them (which is good, because they always fail), but I always figure that maybe one day, I will find that diamond in the rough, for which all the time and money spent perusing weird chips down dollar and closeout store snack aisles will have been worth it.

And you know what?  These are as close to a diamond in the rough as I have yet to find, though my rant from the first paragraph wasn’t just annoying rambling.  These chips are vastly, terribly mismarketed as jalapeno popper chips.  They simply taste nothing like them.  There’s no cream cheese taste, nor anything soft and creamy that would resemble  that flavor.  But replace the name with “Cheddar Jalapeno”, and you have yourself both a more apt name, and a chip that more people would be willing to try.

These really taste exactly like other jalapeno potato chips that I’ve had, complete with the same (or very close) level of heat, only with the added benefit of some pretty delicious cheddar cheese powder to help balance it out.  Since they are kettle cooked, there’s also some extra crunchiness versus a regular potato chip, which I prefer (but they’re not so crunchy that you think you’ll break your teeth, which has been a concern with some kettle chips I’ve had in the past).

Unlike most products that Big Lots carries, which are often here today and gone tomorrow, the stuff in the Fresh Finds line seem to be their attempts at carrying things consistently throughout the year.  Like the closeouts for which they have become famous, they are also affordably priced—an 8 oz. bag is just $1.90.  While that’s at least a couple quarters more than chips at other discount grocers (i.e., Aldi) it’s still way cheaper than national brands, so they provide some solid value.  If you like jalapeno chips but have always dreamed they’d be better with cheese, then these will let you test out that theory.

Overall: 7.5/10.  Misleadingly titled--they taste nothing like jalapeno poppers--yet still delicious in their own right, these are actually jalapeno chips with a generous helping of cheddar cheese powder.  So then what’s with the picture of cream cheese jalapenos on the front?  Anyway, mismarketed attempt to over-sensationalize the flavor of the chips aside, these are surprisingly delicious.  There’s a decent amount of heat, but nothing too outrageous, while the cheese helps to balance everything out.  For $1.90 per 8 oz. bag, there’s plenty of chips to go around, too, for a really affordable price.  The Fresh Finds line is quickly becoming one of my favorites when it comes to potato chips, and these are another step in the right direction. Solid bang for the buck.



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