Thursday, November 28, 2019

Great Value Jalapeno Jack Tortilla Chips (Walmart)

Not really my cup of tea in terms of flavor, but still an exceptional value.

I was once again on the hunt for some kind of chip-like product to take to work with me, something I tend to do just about every week. Only this time, something was different: I found myself in unfamiliar territory: With our local Aldi temporarily shut down for a rebuild/renovation, we opted to forego our usual backup plan (Meijer), and instead headed to Walmart for groceries.

I stumbled into the chip aisle, with no specific options on my mind; all I knew is that I wanted something that I couldn’t get at Aldi. With that very broad criteria in mind, my eyes finally settled on a bag of Great Value Jalapeno Jack tortilla chips, a knockoff of the national brand flavored junk food tortilla chip. I never tried the “actual” version of these, so it won't function as a comparison between the two, but rather a look at this on its own merits.

The smell is jalapeno through and through, with no suggestion of sweetness or other flavor profiles; it's a scent that strongly insinuates that it means business. Thankfully, the heat is pretty well subdued, with what I would consider a light-to-medium spiciness that dances on the tongue for a little while, but that isn’t strong enough to cause any real discomfort. In other words, you probably won’t have to have a gallon of milk nearby, unless you’re overly sensitive to hot products, or throw down handful after handful without a break in between.

The taste is pretty good, although it falls somewhere in the weird gray area that many mainstream foods find themselves in: it might be too peppery and straightforward for non-fans of jalapeno, yet it won't pack the anticipated heat for strong fans of the pepper. I'm somewhere in the middle of both of those sides, and personally, I'd say they're pretty tasty at first, but once I’ve had a handful (or two if I’m particularly hungry), it’s pretty easy to put away the bag. And that's not something I can say for other flavors of this chip (particularly the ranch, which I have a hard time putting down once I eat one), although I suppose given the nutritional content (next to none), that might be a good thing.

Also coming from a “casual” fan of jalapeno, I gotta be perfectly honest here: I don't think I'll ever get these again. Again, there's nothing wrong with the taste, it's just too...boring for me, for lack of a better term. I kind of expected an addictive flavor like the ranch (and, to a lesser extent, the nacho cheese), but instead got a more straightforward pepper taste that just didn't hook me like I was expecting. I was hoping the "jack" in the title (an allusion, of course, to "pepper jack" cheese) would provide more to the flavor, but considering it's also a spicy cheese, it just adds a slight cheese taste that just comes off as "more of the same". Again, though, those with more of an affinity for pepperiness will probably enjoy these a lot more than I did.

As underwhelmed as I was on the flavor, what's putting this (slightly) over the fence for me is the value: an 11 oz. bag is just $1. One dollar for a full-size bag, which is even cheaper than the snack size bags from the name brands. At that price, I can't really not recommend it; if you have even a mild interest in jalapeno, it's worth picking up just to try. Even if you dislike it, you won't be out much at all. And that's the way a budget item should be.

Overall: 5.5/10. These are good for a change of pace from the norm, but not something I would probably ever care to get again. The flavor is disappointingly straightforward jalapeno, with no offsetting sweetness or other flavor profiles, which makes them almost disappointingly one-note, especially compared to the ranch and nacho cheese versions. On the other hand, a full size, 11 oz. bag retails for just $1, making it an incredible value, especially for those on a strict budget. That's reason enough for me to recommend at least giving them a shot if you're even the least bit interested, as the low risk is more than offset by the potential of finding a great chip that you might like more than I did.

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