The year in crisps

“Review of the year” items are quite rampant, haven’t you noticed? They usually happen at this time of year. I’m sure it’s big enough to be classified as a “trend”.

It is perhaps a trifle early for such things, there being literally some days to go, in which any number of extraordinary events could place. The television and the printing press involve lengthy production processes that make the margin for omission even wider. I hope that any such points shall be brought forward into next year’s batch of backwards looks. I have also observed that these annual things are frequently biased towards the latter parts of each year, probably because they tend to be fresher in the memory, so perhaps this earliness is for the best – otherwise, who knows how many important items would go forgotten?

The “review of the decade” was popular last year, and now there’s an unsurprising resurgence, thanks the outspoken mavericks who believe that 2010 belongs to the past decade. I’m firmly in the “reviews of the decade are so last year” camp, but the great divide does provide double the windows of opportunity for doing decade-based (not “decadent”) things, if at first one doesn’t succeed. Still, all that follows is an ordinary review of some of the crisps that I have eaten this year.

“Deep and crisp and even” was almost the title, which would have been wintry, and therefore appropriate because winter is the season at the moment. However, I was reluctant to alienate our friends on the southern hemisphere, and see also what I just said about the danger of focusing too heavily on the hindmost part of the year. Crisps aren’t for the winter, I think, anyhow. “The year in crisps” perhaps smugly boasts about how terribly wacky and innovative it is, but this here admission of that fact makes it all OK.

Tesco Oven Baked

Mr Walker, who is owned by Mr Pepsi, has been doing baked crisps for a while. Mr Tesco has, I think more recently, caught wind of this revolution, and now makes some of his own.

It is printed on the bag that they are “potato snacks”. I can imagine a newspaper doing a story about how meddlers from foreign countries have BANNED the word “crisp”, but unfortunately for us that word still appears as well. I think it is just that someone has been to an literacy lesson at a primary school, and learnt that it is “bad” to reuse the same word repeatedly, and better to consult a thesaurus.

Mr Walker’s baked crisps came, probably still come, in a nasty sort of shiny foil bag, just like any other greasy crisp. Tesco’s bag seems better suited to the relative dryness of baked crisps – it’s more papery, and seems classier, more biodegradable. (I don’t know whether this has any kind of link, even a remote one, to the actual truth in real terms.) If they held any ordinary crisp, absolute chaos would be quite inevitable, with oil seeping through the spongishly porous material, but these are no ordinary crisps. Perhaps the packaging is less good at the retention of freshness, but that’s OK.

There are some people – strange people – who have written reviews of these crisps. It is an astonishgly tragic thing to do, and I do wonder what compelled them to do it. One review – yes, they are multiple, I think – was fiercely critical, and likened the experience to that of eating “a dry water biscuit”. I don’t think that eating a dry water biscuit is too bad, actually.

An important factor is the soiling of hands. It is possible enough to wash them, but there is something a bit inversely bohemian about washing your hands after eating, which is not always a bad thing, but is here – it’s the pretend bohemianism of someone who has misjudged what makes bohemianism bohemianism. If not done properly – such as in dozy, post-meal state – the washing of hands will uncomfortably dampen the very apex of the sleeves, and who wants to have to get the hairdryer out? Doritos are one sort of crisp where the soiling is rife, but I am happy to report that the baked crisps are not.

Doritos

You must know that Mr Pepsi’s tortilla chips are named Doritos. I mentioned them just moments ago, dancing around on my soapbox, furious about the amount of cheese powder that they leave everywhere.

Mr Pepsi’s friend, a lady from off of Channel 4’s youth programming on the television, presented an overwrought Adobe Flash–powered colossus of an internet programme called Doritos King Of Ads. (Be careful out there, I mean every word about the flashy collosality.) The lady in her programme encouraged viewers to make and send in television advertisement videos, to be in with a cha own . Incredibly, flocks of people did do that. They’ve done it before, too.

It is a surprise that people with cameras and people who eat Doritos are often the same people. If I were using a camera, I am sure that I would be reluctant to smear grains of Dorito all over the crevices. Evidently, these people can overcome manage to surmount that hurdle. Great, but my main point is that it ought to be a little depressing that the hoi polloi are willing to voluntarily use their spare time to make advertising for Mr Pepsi’s addictive mass-produced pellets. Happy new year.

Corkers Crisps

The more high-end sorts of crisps have a tendency to be dangerously brittle, and it’s hard not to worry, at least a little, about shrapnel wounds or something. Even when a sop of stale Walkers crisp happens to jackknife en route to the innards, the levels of hurt are considerable. I come close to shuddering each time I wonder what would happen with a Real Crisps or Kettle Chips crisp.

Corkers Crisps are high-end crisps, sure enough, but astonishingly they are not too brittle. They also get the amount of powder just right. Well done, Mr Corker.

Unfortunately, both the website and the packets contain a prominent picture of the two men who invented the crisps. (Neither are actually called Mr Corker.) They are shown stood in a field, wearing great smirks and wellington boots and bow ties. They are, definitely, twits. There are also dubious sorts of “patriotism”, in the form of an illustration of a teapot, the famous Chinese invention. I might be being unfair, and we should admire the absence of unnatural ingredients, but the punctuation is all wrong in several places on their website.

One claim is (a bit) interesting:

The packaging is produced from quality foil to ensure maximum freshness.

I worry about the sustainability of crisps. Don’t you? Isn’t “quality foil” misplaced if some crisps are so tasty that they will be gobbled quite promptly? I would like to know that Mr Walker and his colleagues are working tirelessly so that one day crisp packets will be recyclable and so on, far more than I care about bullet-proof, armour-plated fancy foil.

Glennans

I strongly disapprove of Mr Glennan’s lowercase antics, with his crisp company that is called “glennans™”, but the character of his crisps is a far more important issue. I have eaten some of the beetroot crisps, which are innovatively made of actual beetroots in place of potatoes, and they were horrible.

Of course, maybe I am being unfair. The idea seems to be that the crisps are supposed to be incorporated into canapés. Perhaps, in that scenario, they are terrific. I don’t know.

(Some people call canapés “canopies”, which is all wrong. They also call call espresso coffee “expresso”. What is the correct way of dealing with these people? Is it supposed to be a charming malapropism?)

There are two people called Mr Glennan, and a further Ms Glennan, and their signatures are on their website.

Also

An election happened, so an opportunistic crisp company gave away some special coloured crisp packets, to go with the colour of tie preferred by each political party’s leader. Apparently, this happened in May, which is really too close to the beginning of the year and I am tired. Sorry.

Again, have a happy and preposterous new year.