Chip on Chips 2: Electric Kettleoo

I’d like to talk to you about kettle chips. You know what kettle chips are don’t you? Compared to regular, vat-fried chips these things are thicker, heavier, saltier, crunchier, more likely to tear up the roof of your mouth plus they pair really well with good beer. I’m sure we all wish we could go back to the days when a 40 of Mickey’s and a bag of Lay’s would suffice for dinner but we’re older now. We want thicker potato slices fried in a cauldron of oil to go with our India Pale Ale. There’s a brand called Kettle® and tons of other kettle-style chips out there. THESE ARE NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH KETTLE CORN WTF. I guess kettle-popped corn means that it’s sweet but judging by the people I see eating it I think maybe the cauldron is made of lead? Who knows. Here’s a fun experiment: Get a bag of kettle chips, any brand from any market will do, and get one of those brown paper towels, you can get them free in the bathroom of any restaurant, generally. Now pour the chips into the paper towel and blot those chips down really well with the paper towel. Crumple up the paper towel and light it on fire. Well it turns out that’s a really bad idea. Apparently you can run your car on kettle chip grease. So while I sit here and wait for my eyebrows and the skin on my hand to grow back I’ll left-hand my way through this writeup and tell you about the big players in the kettle chip game and try to find some ambitious upstart guys with their micro-kettle recipe and small-batch chips.


Kettle® Chips

All right everybody back off, these guys staked out the name Kettle® Chips and all they want to do is make batches and batches of kettle chips apparently, so I respect the hustle. Since these guys have the world KETTLE® in giant letters on their bag, naturally a lot people associate Kettle® brand with kettle chips themselves. These chips are good, they’re all the things kettle chips should be, thick, almost translucent, crunchy not crispy, earthy and meaty. They’re pretty oily, not in a good way but it’s to be expected with kettle chips. So I guess it’s fair to call these guys the standard-bearers in the kettle chip game. Chip, you’re asking, is there anything about Kettle® brand kettle chips you don’t like? Don’t get me started on their fucking bags. These things are sealed up like Fort Knox. They put a little notch on the top and you’re supposed tear down and open a little corner out of the bag. Now you gotta struggle to get your chips out. You need a goddamn pair of scissors to open these if you want the whole top of the bag open. Turns out the moment I’m deciding it’s a good idea to rip open a bag of kettle chips is exactly the wrong time for me to be wielding a pair of scissors. Here’s a laugh, they have a Maple-Bacon flavored chip with an image of a stack of pancakes on the bag. You’re not having a stroke you read that right. I can’t tell if these guys are doing this with a straight face. I’m guessing they are. People are going to blame our whole generation when they look back at Maple-Bacon flavored chips. And you’re gonna have to delete every Instagram that features you and any Kettle® brand product or explain to your children how you could have participated in such an abomination. They might taste okay I wouldn’t know, I’ve never been reaching for a bag of chips and said to myself, “I’ll bet these things taste like maple pancakes with bacon, can’t wait to find out if I’m wrong.”

I imagine the CEO of Kettle® sitting in his or her office just laughing maniacally, like a bond villain. He or she is probably not some hands-on leader, with an actual old-world kettle in the office for working on late night batches of chips. No, more likely he or she will sue the shit out you for anything approaching trademark infringement. So Kettle® brand is taken. Also, putting maple and bacon in the same bag and using a graphic of pancakes. For potato chips. Nobody better steal that. Another fun trick is to Google other brands of kettle chips. You’ll see an ad as the top result, labeled as a sponsored link, for Kettle® brand. It reeks of desperation. But again I feel like this is the mentality of the Kettle® corporate culture. WE’RE KETTLE® GODDAMMIT WE ARE THE KETTLE CHIP MAKERS HERE’S MY CARD. YOU LOOKING FOR KETTLE® CHIPS? We get it Kettle®, you make really good kettle chips, you don’t need to take over the world.

One ounce of sea-salt Kettle® Chips has:

9 grams of fat.

16 grams of carbohydrates

2 grams of protein.

1 gram of fiber.

Chip, that’s only 28 grams, what about the .35 grams extra that make up an ounce? Hahaha good eye.


Lay’s Kettle Cooked

Oh shit none other than big shot Lay’s brand is in the kettle game. Lay’s as you may remember from my first chip review is the 500 pound gorilla in the chip game. So when they throw some kettle chips your way you kinda feel obligated to try them. First thing they got right was the bag. I was able to open these no problem. Side by side, you’d have a hard time telling Lay’s from Kettle® and I mean that as a compliment Kettle®. I’m sure Lay’s means it as a compliment too. What you will notice is that you get Kettle® at your corner store and Lay’s at 7-11. Lay’s isn’t off the hook for stupid flavors in their kettle chips though holy shit they got one called “Mesquite BBQ.” Is Lay’s just taking the piss? Answer: Probably. They have a thing on their website talking about what separates a kettle cooked chip from a regular chip.

Ubiquitous, hooray.

No, it’s not greasier or saltier by their definition, it’s “authentic, real ingredient seasonings are added” to kettle chips which can only mean that regular chips have “phony, bogus ingredient seasonings.” So instead of phony BBQ flavored chips like regular Lay’s it’s Mesquite BBQ, because they actually cure the chips in a smokehouse WTF Lay’s how stupid do we look? Stupider than people who eat a lot of chips? Because I understand the bar is set pretty low there but come on. The verdict on these is don’t be afraid to get them just don’t puff your chest out like you scored some killer bag. If it seems like I don’t have much to say about Lay’s it’s because they’re nothing special either way, it’s not because they’re a 500 pound gorilla I swear.

An ounce of Lay’s kettle-cooked contains:

9 grams of fat.

16 grams of carbohydrates

2 grams of protein.

1 gram of fiber.

Yes I did copy and paste these stats from Kettle®, but that’s because they’re the same.


Snack Artist

Safeway’s brand. Okay right about now I’m starting to think all kettle chips taste the same. Like maybe the people at Kettle® just make tons and tons of kettle chips and then put them in other people’s bags and let them sell kettle chips. And come on give me a fucking break. The Snack Artist? Artists are supposed to be starving, living in cold-water flats and taking demeaning jobs just to pay the bills. The Snack Artist appears to have only done the latter, lending his snack-artsy name to a product that barely tries to hide that it is from Safeway. Seriously put Kettle®, Lay’s kettle and Snack Artist kettle chips on different paper towels and you’re not likely to be able to tell much of a difference. They all rip the roof of your mouth into shreds and will all eventually soak through the paper towel and fall to the ground. So what are you paying for with these guys? Bag design apparently. The Snack Artist appears to have some industrial engineering talent going for it. If kettle chips ever make it to Mars, The Snack Artist will likely be the bag to go. You see you don’t tear off a corner of this bag nor do you grab the front and back and open the seal, heavens no. It’s like a ziploc bag that opens from the side. Yeah, I know, right?

Not shown: Space age packaging technology.

Welcome to the future, your guide is none other than kettle chip disguiser The Snack Artist. Look, if these are on sale, yeah, get em. But really you’re just buying chips from the big boys and nobody is really proud of buying from the big boys. Not to totally bag on Snack Artist, Walgreen’s has its own brand of kettle chips so too does 7-11, they all probably came out of the same cauldron. The reality is all of these big super corporate snack companies with their supply chains and their price points are just making some kettle chips. I haven’t really noticed much difference between Lay’s, Kettle® and the third-party Snack Artist brand and I doubt there is much difference between these big shots.

The Snack Artist has to be different and make a serving size two ounces, so get ready for decimals. Per ounce:

8.5 grams of fat.

14.5 grams of carbohydrates

2 grams of protein.

1.5 grams of fiber.


So let’s just forget about how low the Snack Artist has sunk and look for some real winners in the kettle chip game.


Good Health Natural Foods

Oooh lemme guess, Chip, you went to Rainbow for these chips. That’s right I did. It gets better. I got two different kinds and ate both bags in less than 45 minutes. I’m disgusting, I know. But these are Good Health Natural Foods so maybe it’s not so disgusting? The first bag I ate is called Kettle-Style Avocado Oil Potato Chips. Apparently avocado oil gives these chips a lot of healthy omega 3s and California voodoo. You might be thinking oh man avocado oil chips are you kidding me that sounds weird. Brace yourself. These are astonishingly high quality, yummy chips. GHNF is selling itself short with the whole healthy angle because seriously I don’t give a fuck they’re amazing, sell these purely on taste. Hell they might be losing sales with the whole healthy angle. After eating these I feel like there’s no way you can call these healthy they have that indulgence feel to them. But is avocado oil really healthy? Who cares, these taste really good. They’re crispy like you want and the aftertaste is almost buttery.

Don’t try to fool me, Good Health Natural Foods. These can’t be healthy.

Excellent chips. The other bag I got was Olive Oil Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper (!) kettle chips and they’re fried in olive oil and oh my god these are the hands-down fucking winners in the kettle chip game. If you don’t have time for shit stop reading right here, head down to get these chips. Sorry I wasted your time, woops, nope, he’s gone. Good for him. These chips are everything you want in a chip: tasty, crunchy. Just like you want to eat. Kettle® brand has a salt and pepper flavor btw. But they added onion powder and garlic what the FUCK. But GHNF kettle chips are just pepper and salt. Fucking really? Let’s look at the ingredients, hmmm. Potatoes, Olive Oil, Cracked Pepper and Sea Salt. That’s it. That’s all. And they’re only the greatest kettle chips this Chip has ever eaten. I know they have the word Healthy in the name of the chip and they really play up the olive oil angle these are still fucking kettle chips. Eating a bag of these is not healthy. But I feel like when you consider how many chips I ate in a short period of time my stomach didn’t feel like it was trying to process two bags of kettle chips. So that’s gotta say something about these chips. The downside? Well you gotta go to Rainbow or some hippie store, I’ve never seen these at Safeway or even one of the cooler corner spots. Also the bags are ridiculously hard to open just like Kettle® brand so that’s not cool. Not cool at all. Good thing the chips inside are so healthy good.

Good Health? One ounce says this:

8 grams of fat.

17 grams of carbohydrates

2 grams of protein.

<1 gram of fiber.

I thought as much.


Deep River Snacks

Two things that jump out at me after drunkenly tearing into these chips. First, I was able to drunkenly tear into these chips because the bag is easy to open. Second, these chips are less greasy than Kettle®, Lay’s and Snack Artist. Deep River is less intense than the other brands but it’s also less everything else. The flavor is good and they tasted and felt a bit lighter than the other brands save for GHNF. So Deep River kettle chips get the thumbs up from me. But I dare say kettle chips are an indulgence. Deep River just didn’t do it for me in that department.

Hangovers don’t stand a chance.

I’m weaving into the corner store proud as hell that one swerve didn’t cause me to knock over the whole display of Mexican pastries and wishing somebody could have seen how fucking cool I am for being so nimble on my feet under the circumstances. I’m also a little worried the next time I might not recover so smoothly and then, of course, everyone will end up seeing me take out a whole display of Luna bars which would somehow be way worse. At this moment I do not need the little guys. I need those thick heavy chips, fucking Snack Artist would do right about now except there’s no way I could be seen in a Safeway in my condition. I’ll choose Deep River over Kettle® for three reasons: 1) the bag is easy to open. 2) I love the little guys 3) I’m not making good decisions right now. Right now I need greasy chips. Less drunk, not so much. I’m talking about conducting the entire transaction using primitive vocalization drunk. If it seems like I’m taking a huge shit on Deep River it’s not Deep River’s fault. I blame the liquor. I would say these chips probably pair nicely with a good sandwich, a good pale ale. They also have a salt and pepper variety that tastes really good though, made using only four ingredients. Don’t get it twisted, like I was the night I bought the bag I tore into before writing. These chips are excellent. I hope you’re able to find them. I’m glad my corner store carries them.

Once ounce of Deep River kettle chips breaks down to:

8 grams of fat.

17 grams of carbohydrates

2 grams of protein.

1 gram of fiber.



The very first time I had kettle chips I was just a kid in Hawaii hanging with my parents’ friends. My parents met in Hawaii when my dad was stationed there and my grandparents still lived there. In between making weirdly racist jokes about Portuguese people and calling me bruddah this big Hawaiian friend of the family rips open a bag of Hawaiian chips (you don’t have to be a big Hawaiian guy to do this btw) and offers me some. Naturally I was suspicious. What the hell are Hawaiian style chips I asked the man. He said they’re cooked in a kettle, they’re really good not like those dumb Portuguese chips. Whatever the fuck that means. I tried one and it was like wait potato chips can taste like this? I HAD NO IDEA. They’re really good.

Legit the original Kettle style.

I feel like Hawaiian style chips is the original kettle chips. It was years before I saw kettle chips again stateside. I think the first brand I did see was called Cape Cod and they still exist but eventually I saw Hawaiian brand and they were my kettle chip jam for the next couple years. Maybe 5 years after that you start to see Kettle®’s big tendrils start to invade and dominate the kettle chip game. Now it’s hard as hell to find Hawaiian brand. They used to be everywhere. Now it’s all Kettle® and Lay’s and fucking Snack Artist. This is kind of my problem with the kettle chip game. It’s being dominated by the big guys. Now if you’re just talking about  taste and all the big guys are ok and they’re great for regular chips too. But you’re paying for kettle chips, vote with your dollar and if you have a hankering for kettle chips do yourself and the planet a favor and go with the little guys. You can order Hawaiian chips online though and if you have a cool corner store in your hood, fucking ask for them by name. Accuse them of running a Portuguese corner store if they try to squirm out of doing it for you.

Here’s the lowdown on an ounce.

9 grams of fat.

15 grams of carbohydrates

1 grams of protein.

1 gram of  fiber.


Thanks for reading this absurd breakdown of a specialized segment of snack foods in America. I’m not sure if I’m going to do a hard-hitting exposé of so-called bullshit “healthy” chips or maybe stretch out and go to some restaurants to try some fresh, hot out of the fryer chips. I still got like a month to worry about that though. A month to see if any cool restaurants offer me a chance to sample some fresh out of the fryer chips, *into toy cell phone filled with candy* TWEET ME @kliksf.

Keep eating those Chips folks.