I spent my vacation in Canada, specifically the Banff National Park region (10/10, very good park, would park again), and on my first day there, I went a little crazy on Twitter, as Americans inevitably do, mocking Canada's weird potato chip variants.
I got some blowback for this, and I'm sure it seemed uncouth to many. But let's be honest: If there is a nation on this planet that really knows what it's talking about when it comes to shitty junk food, it's the United States. Canada might think it's got the shitty junk food market cornered, but it's only a pretender.
So here are five Canadian chip flavors I tried, ranked and rated.
1) All-Dressed: Canada gets all weird about all-dressed chips. They like to laugh about them and say, "Boy, the flavor is secret!" and all sorts of stuff, like they've really cracked the code on secret formulas or whatever. They'll be, like, "Boy, you better try the all-dressed chips, wink wink!"
But the truth of the matter is, these chips are pretty good, and their flavor is "three-quarters barbecue." There is no real mystery here. These are just barbecue chips for people who think regular barbecue chips are taking a walk on the wild side.
But they're still pretty tasty! They were the one flavor I sampled that I wouldn't mind having pop up in the US on a more regular basis.
2) Bacon and sour cream: This is just not that impressive as a flavor. It's basically "loaded baked potato," except Canada also has loaded baked potato chips. (So does the US from time to time, to be fair.) Did these chips taste pretty good? Sure. Did I feel the desperate need to eat more of them? Not really. And if a junk food doesn't make you crave more, it has failed its number one mission in life.
3) Creamy dill: There are dill pickle chips in the states, but these chips are "creamy dill." What that means, I don't know, but I also didn't mind these. On the other hand, if I want something pickle flavored, I can just eat a pickle. Canada's flavoring strategy seems to be, "This other flavor we like? We can smear that all over a chip." It's like a middle-aged dad desperately trying to keep up with what he thinks his teens find cool and always being five or six steps behind.
4) Poutine: I also didn't hate these chips. (I keep reiterating this because we are coming to what will be a smashing climax, I assure you.) But when I opened the bag, I almost couldn't eat them, because they smelled like Alpo. You think I'm making a joke here, but that is the literal truth. I opened the bag up and thought they were going to be dog food flavored chips. I've never eaten dog food. Maybe they were!
5) Ketchup: I could barely proceed with these based on the smell alone, which is just...
You know that kid who's 12 or 13, and he's just realized that his sexuality exists, and he's trying to win the attention of some other kid in his class whom he finds attractive, and so he just slathers on a ton of deodorant to prove his manliness? This is like that, only if a potato chip covered itself in ketchup for some reason.
But the thing I realized was that Canada loves ketchup. You can buy, like, 500 variations of ketchup, and they have many different brands of ketchup, and Heinz is not the assumed dominant brand like it is in the US. (AS IT SHOULD BE.) So chasing the ketchup market in potato chip form is just good business sense.
But if you think about it, Canada's favorite condiments being vinegar and ketchup has a certain kind of poetry to it, right?
Episodes is published three-ish times per week, and more if I feel like it. It is mostly about television, except when it's not. Suggest topics for future installments via email or on Twitter. Read more of my work at Vox Dot Com.
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