My name’s Danny Palumbo, and I’m from Pennsylvania—home of Herr’s, Utz, Snyder’s, Wise, Middleswarth, Martin’s, Gibble’s, and many more. In short, this is where chips live, baby. And although I no longer live in the Keystone state, I still have a profound admiration for all things potato chips. In this column I will be reviewing some of the best the country has to offer. Welcome to Chip Country.
Kettle’s got a new line of air fried chips, featuring three of its most notable flavors: jalapeño, himalayan salt, and sea salt & vinegar. I’m a zealot for salt and vinegar chips, so I recently picked up a bag at the grocery store to give them a taste test, and to see if Kettle chips can still be awesome without their most wonderful attribute. I’m talking, of course, about fat.
Per Kettle’s website, “Kettle Brand Air Fried Sea Salt & Vinegar kettle chips are batch cooked in kettles then air fried for a light and crispy crunch.” So, it sounds like they’re still cooked in oil, but finished in a big air fryer? The ingredients still list vegetable oils on the package, though the fat content is much lower. That worries me, as Kettle chips are iconically known for their fatty, rich flavor. When you slow cook potato chips, they seem to absorb more of the oil, which bursts in your mouth with an oleaginous taste. For a national brand, Kettle chips rule, and the fat content is a big part of that. What happens to the overall product when you make it healthy? Will they hold up, or be doomed to live amongst baked Lay’s products?
What do Kettle’s air fried sea salt & vinegar chips taste like?
Surprisingly good, but they’re definitely missing that delectable rich flavor you get from a regular Kettle chip. Still, these have enough fat to get by, and a strikingly similar crunch to regular Kettle chips. The salt and vinegar flavor is, to my palate, essentially the same as a regular sea salt and vinegar Kettle chip, too. They might feel a tad dry, but I still found them to be quite addictive. So much so that I polished off an entire bag in a day. Little bowl of chips here, little bowl of chips there. They went fast.
Is air fried the next big chip product to hit all of our favorite brands? I’m buying into it. Baked Lays, Ruffles, and Cheetos just can’t hold a candle to the awesomely delicious flavor of Kettle’s air fried salt and vinegar chips. And there are tons of great low-fat snacks out there, but they’re usually their own thing already. I’m thinking of Pop Corners and Hippeas—just healthy and adequately delicious from the start. Air fried Kettle chips still maintain their base structure, and their integrity of flavor, without changing too much. Give me full-fat Kettle chips all day, certainly, but this whole air fried business is a good substitute for people who want to watch fat while still eating a damn good potato chip.