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-style salt and vinegar chips are for snack masochists, those who enjoy pain through food. Who don’t mind their mouths getting all manner of cuts. People who want their chips to physically hurt them—and I’m right there with you. When it comes to food, throw me around a little bit. Be rough. Smash a lamp. Threaten my family. Just keep it exciting. Salt and vinegar chips fulfill that urge; I love copious amounts of acidity assaulting my tongue and abusing my enamel. Makes me feel alive. That said, Kettle’s apple cider salt and vinegar chips are a welcome respite from those dark urges. They’re understated, balanced, and lovely in a way that evokes calm. And I need calm.
These are chips for snack eaters who like tang but might not enjoy the abrasiveness of salt and vinegar chips. Kettle’s chips are always delicious, with a distinct potato flavor (though not one that matches the bold potato flavor of brands like Utz or Herr’s) and a satisfying crunch. Kettle has a lot of great chip flavors—I’m partial to robust Honey Dijon, smoky and sweet Country Style Barbecue, and the powerfully pungent Parmesan Garlic. However, the Apple Cider Vinegar flavor provides some new yet untasted subtle taste, perhaps even unlocking a new genre of chip flavor altogether.
If salt and vinegar chips are loud, apple cider vinegar chips are meek and understated. In short, the kind of person I want to be around. These are safe, but not in a boring way. They’re steady, straightforward, and quite delicious. There’s a subtle sweetness and a light, fruity tang from the apple cider vinegar that kept me coming back to this bag. This isn’t the full-on thrashing you experience from salt and vinegar chips made with white vinegar; this actually has depth of flavor.
It makes me wonder: Why aren’t there more styles of salt and vinegar chips? Coconut vinegar would make an all-timer of a Kettle chip. Chinese black vinegar and sherry would also provide unique, bold taste. Then there’s sweet vinegar made from pears or blackberries, and spice-infused vinegar made from chilis. It should be said that I also really love these malt vinegar flavored potato chips—the combination of potatoes and caramelly vinegar is just deeply satisfying and iconic. Why not keep pushing things forward?
Apple cider vinegar is a step in the right direction, toward brave new vinegar possibilities, but I can’t help but feel there’s going to be something better eventually. In the meantime, I’ll design the chip flavors I wish to see in the world.