Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Clancy's Maple Bacon Wavy Potato Chips (Aldi)

Terrifyingly, alarmingly accurate.  But is that always a good thing?
I think most people reading this blog should know, by now, that I love seeking out weird potato chips. I eat them almost every weekday at work, in a lunch that consists of a sandwich (usually peanut butter and jelly, but sometimes tuna), chips (whatever I’m in the mood for that week), an apple, and an energy drink. That’s probably not the healthiest of lunches, and I’m probably shaving months off my life every year I pack this, but I figure it’s got to be better than eating, say, TV dinners all the time.

Anyway, when you eat chips as frequently as I do, you eventually get sick of all the basic flavors, and want to try new things. I wish you could have seen how excited I got when I saw Clancy’s Maple Bacon Potato Chips in an Aldi ad; the combination sounded so gross that I just knew I had to grab a bag.

And a couple of weeks later, that’s exactly what I did. I was even so hungry after stopping at Aldi on my way home from work, that I cracked open the bag and tried them right in the car. What I tasted is an almost indescribable experience; one that I’m still coming to terms with almost half-a-bag later. It might come off as a novelty product--in fact, it might BE a novelty product--but I have to commend it for being one of the most alarmingly accurate chips that I may have ever eaten. The sad trade-off to this praise is that I’m also not sure that I will ever want to eat them again.

My first bite started with an overwhelming amount of maple syrup; it was so strong that you would swear that each chip would be sticky from having been covered with the stuff. But creepily, they look and feel just like a normal wavy potato chip. Once your taste buds recover from the shock of a sweet potato chip, there’s a good bit of smokiness that pushes its way through. I definitely wouldn’t have guessed the smokiness was supposed to resemble bacon had I not known the flavor going in, but it makes for an interesting, if not entirely successful, combination. Even weirder is the revelation that the sweetness actually overwhelms the saltiness; a curious thing, considering a lot of chips are way too salty for me. By having the maple be the overwhelming flavor, it’s interesting to see it somehow work the other way around.

Again, I’m almost halfway through the bag, and I still can’t say for certain what I think of these. And regardless what I think of them, they are not something that I can eat for long periods of time at all; after a few chips, I start to get a little sick of the sweetness, and have to put them down. Ultimately, that’s a pretty good thing, because potato chips aren’t exactly good for you, but it’s also helping to muddle my opinion of them, because I can‘t seem to really enjoy them the way I would normal chips. I actually haven’t taken these to work with me yet, so I don’t know how well (or poorly) they pair up with other foods, which could be a pretty logistical concern given their overall sweetness. The maple flavor is ridiculously, shockingly accurate for a potato chip, as is the aroma when you first open the bag.

If you’re like me (sadly) and enjoy your chips on the different side, then this is probably about as weird as it’s going to get, at least inside an Aldi store. The $1.49 price tag gives you a lot of chip (probably more than most people will be able to tolerate) for the price, and also ensures that this is an experiment that won’t set you back much if you end up not liking them. I’m leaning toward the conclusion that the whole idea of these chips should have been left on the chopping block, but I must begrudgingly admit that the end product is both better than it has any right to be, and probably the best outcome possible for a maple-bacon potato chip.

Overall: 5.5/10. That rare chip whose alarming flavor accuracy (at least as far as the maple is concerned) is every bit as much a turn-off as is it a turn-on (figuratively speaking, of course; I do not get sexually aroused from eating any kind of potato chip). The inside of the bag smells strongly (and genuinely) of maple syrup, and that’s also the initial flavor that dances all over your tongue. The taste was so real, that I don’t know how they did it short of drenching each chip with actual syrup, which they clearly didn’t do. The “bacon”, as it often does in these kinds of foods, ends up being reduced to just a “smoky” flavor that creeps in towards the end and is largely unsatisfying. These are so sweet that I can never eat more than a few at a time, especially since the disappointing bacon flavor does little to balance out the taste of this chip. These are chips that probably shouldn’t have ever been made, but they are at least better than they should be.

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