July 25, 2009

Not long ago, the wife and I went on a much needed, but late arriving, vacation to the land of merry ole England. Part biz, part pleasure, we had the joy of hanging out with the awesome editorial staff at Titan Books. The team of Steve, Andrew, Den & Phillipa, Ellie, and Rona made us feel welcome, and like part of the family. So much so, that Ned and his wonderful wife to be Carly, invited us to their engagement party! What little I remember, after all the strong beers, was that I had a great time. One of the things that I always pictured as being part of pub life was free flowing bags of chips, or crisps as the Brits call them.

Now we’re no strangers to strange flavors or odd concept snack foods in the States… hell we gave the world Twinkies and Slim Jims (crimes against nature), but the Brits are willing to put damn near any taste on a fried bit of potato and call it a snack. In preparation for our trip, we did a little research. The wife and I had our own priorities- hers being shopping for clothes, mine was tracking down various comic shops and art stores. In our quest, however, we discovered that recently Walker crisps had set up a contest to help decide some new flavors for their line of chips. Now keep in mind they already have tasty treats like Prawn Cocktail, Cheese & Onion, Beef & Onion, Pickled Onion (man they love onion), Roasted Chicken,  Marmite, and even Worcester. However, that wasn’t enough- no they needed a contest to come up with something that had a wider appeal to increase sales; hence their recent contest of “Do us a Flavour!” (Brilliant title though isn’t it?) They set up a competition for fans to send in flavor suggestions, which the top few would be produced for a limited time, and the winner would then become a standard option. So what do they offer? For consideration they selected great British culinary standards like…

Fish n Chips – fair enough- it is what most Americans think of first

Builders Breakfast- sounds like a Willie Wonka concoction- now I taste green peas!

Chili n Chocolate – ok- I can see the idea being like jalepeño in hot chocolate

Onion Bhaji- sure, I know there are a lot of people of east Indian decent in the UK

Crispy Duck-  again, I know Britain held Hong Kong for @ 100 years, so ok

But the last was one I couldn’t quite get… so while in England we hit every Marks & Spencer around until we found what we were looking for.


No seriously- it was one of the options.  I additionally like an appeal for a vote from a squirrel who looks like he’s either in prison, or in the head lights of an on coming car.


I’m not sure what flavors the US sister company of Walker (Lays chips) would come up with for a similar stunt?

Ballpark Franks?

Biscuits n Saw Mill Gravy?

Chips & Salsa?

But Heaven help us if some “neck” were to suggest “O’Possum” flavor! Do we need that? I hope not, as if pork skins aren’t nasty enough.

One thing I have to give the Brits though- they don’t mince words. I noticed that they don’t put a small Surgeon General’s warning on cigarette packs over there. No, they have a huge billboard across the box practically saying “you smoke this and you’ll die!”, so why should their snack food be any different. They don’t have confusing nutritional boxes on the back of the bag with tiny numbers, uh-uh- it’s a slapped right on the front with big, eye grabbing graphics that remind you what a lard-butt you’re going to be after chomping down your bag of grease, infused goodies.


If the flavor didn’t deter you enough, maybe this will. With American obesity at critical levels, perhaps this is the best option. I say we let people eat junk food to their hearts content (or detriment), but remind them with big intimidating type about their poor choice. Then, to increase the odds, lets only offer flavors that a even a starving raccoon wouldn’t eat. Hmmmm… Raccoon?


2 Responses to “Crisps!”

  1. Den said

    I’m a total beers and crisps addict. I admit it. Part of the reason is I’m a total light weight, so if I eat some thing, even crisps, I’m lining my stomach with some food stuff. It’s all about damage limitation.

    : )

  2. H20 said

    Totally missed this when we were in Devon. O well.

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