Sunday, May 10, 2020

Zapp's Voodoo New Orleans Kettle Style Potato Chips (Big Lots)

NOTE: We're breaking the "budget" theme for this one, but these chips are too good not to have a huge following. I picked them up at Big Lots a while back, but they slowly look like they are becoming more widely available.

Potato chip perfection?
I had no idea what I was getting myself into, when a spur-of-the-moment decision lead me to grab a bag of Zapp's Voodoo Chips from Big Lots one day. I mean, how could I? It's impossible to differentiate between the thousands of brands and products that flow in and out of a closeout store in any given year, and so all I thought I was grabbing was yet another failed product that never registered with audiences, and were thus being relegated to the shelves of Big Lots to live out the rest of their miserable, man-made existences.

I sure as hell had no way of knowing that I had stumbled on a potato chip gold mine, until I made it home and, in a state of utter curiosity, immediately pulled up the chips online. How could I have known that many people consider these the single greatest kind of potato chip ever made? How could I have possibly foreseen that individual bags of these go for as much as $7 online, to people who are actually completely willing to pay such a price for these extravagant chips?

With this in mind, it could be suggested that Zapp's is a relatively major brand, and thus exempt from review here. After all, you can find articles in many different food blogs and websites ranting and raving about how great these chips are. But I had never heard of them before, and judging from the many bags that were sitting on the shelves when I picked up my first bag, and then a similarly bountiful amount remaining when I went back four days later to grab four more, neither have many others, outside of Zapp's home state of Lousiana. Plus, as great as these chips are reputed to be, they had to have ended up at Big Lots, selling for the ridiculously low price of just $1.50 per 5 oz. bag (the same size going for $7 on Amazon), for a reason.

Anyway, as soon as I saw what I had in my hands, I immediately opened them (they were supposed to be for my lunches that week) and dug right in. Were all the reviews praising these as the greatest example of potato chips in the history of mankind true, or would these just be yet another example of massive overhype? I mean, after all, how good can a single potato chip be?

These things are absolutely fantastic. I desperately want to counterattack the claim that these are among the best chips ever made, because I've sadly had so many, that I should be able to make a list of at least three that are better. But no matter how hard I rack my brain, none spring to mind. In fact, I can't recall a single chip where the experience of eating it actually excited me: sure, part (maybe a lot) of it was just seeing what all the fuss was about, but when I eagerly shared them with co-workers, many of whom requested I buy them their own bags, that only cemented what I already knew: these things are phenomenal.

That being said, not everyone should be running out to buy them immediately: the main flavor here resembles a strong salt and vinegar chip, so if you can't stand salt and vinegar, there is a good chance that you will not like these. But the flavor obviously doesn't just end there: in fact, that's just the beginning. Underneath the main sour layer is an interesting, and unexpected, blast of something sweet that balances everything out. Many have likened these chips as a mix of “salt and vinegar and barbecue”, but I don't think that description does it much justice; I really don't get much of anything “barbecue” in the sweetness. Unfortunately, I can't really compare it to anything else, besides maybe Thai sweet chili, and even that falls well short of the actual taste. I would say a Cajun without the spice, but that's still pretty vague, and also an oxymoron. But whatever it is, it's damn good, and an absolute steal at this price; even at regular price, it's well worth it.

According to Zapp's website, these were created when an employee accidentally knocked some random spices into a vat, and supposedly, this chip was the result. Is that a true story, or merely a marketing ploy? I don't really know, and I don't really care (although, if it's true, that employee better be in an executive position by now), because regardless of how they came about, you can believe the hype: Zapp's Voodoo Chips are addicting, and provided me with a blast of excitement in the otherwise droll world of lunchtime potato chips.

Overall: 10/10. I'm hesitant to give these a ten, but I really can't recall a chip that not only impressed me, but everyone around me, in such fashion. Everyone I let sample these ended up loving them, which is pretty impressive for a junk food that most of my coworkers tend to avoid. My wife, meanwhile, also sung its praises, and we make sure to stock up on these just about whenever we see them. It's just an outstanding flavor that, despite being different, is complex enough to appeal to all types of palates, yet simple enough not to be overwhelming. If there was a holy grail of potato chips, this one would sit high atop the throne.

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