The One Chip Flavor Everyone Gets Wrong

If snack companies could just get this right, they’d have all my money.

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Photo: Grillo’s Pickles and Utz

I’m not sure if I’ve ever truly expressed my love for pickles in my time at The Takeout, but this is a lifetime of love I’m talking about. The kind of love where I was limited to two pickles a day as a kid. So, when I say that I have yet to enjoy dill pickle chips that completely live up to the name, you should trust that I’ve put in the man-hours to make such a bold claim.

Why don’t pickle potato chips taste like pickles?

Take for example, Lay’s Dill Pickle Flavored potato chips. I got so excited the first time I came across these; the bag features an image of two pickle spears right on the front. They’ve got to be fantastic, right? The disappointment was immediate. As potato chips, they achieve what they should, crisp and nicely salted. But they left me searching for the pickle flavor when it should have been front and center. All I got was a hint of dill, not enough to justify calling these pickle-flavored chips.

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Most recently I got the chance to be one of the first people to taste pickle-flavored chips from Utz in collaboration with Grillo’s Pickles—a Boston-based brand claiming to make the “World’s Best Pickles.” I figured this must be my holy grail of pickle-flavored chips. An actual pickle-focused company collaborated with a potato-chip-focused snack company to deliver unto us a perfect bag of pickle-flavored chips.

I have to say that although Grillo’s Classic Dill Pickle flavored chips outdo the Lay’s competition, unfortunately, once again, the chips just don’t fully hit the mark. Perhaps my taste buds are seeking something no one else wants? The problem here, as with all dill pickle flavored chips, is that the formula places so much focus on the dill and not on the other half of a pickle’s flavor profile: the sour, vinegar taste. Actual pickles sit soaking in a bath of delicious acidic juices so sour my mouth is already watering. Yet the potato chip equivalents seem to abandon that flavor dimension in favor of a few flecks of dill seasoning.

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How to build a better pickle chip

If potato chip makers can make Salt & Vinegar a chip flavor, I don’t see why they can’t layer some dill on top of that to make pickle chips taste more like an actual dill pickle. Can they just let me onto the factory floor so I can show them the balance I want?

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Luckily for me, more brands are experimenting with dehydrated “pickle chips” made from actual slices of pickle. You’d think this would solve the problem, yet ironically, these chips tend to lack the signature saltiness and huge crunch of a potato chip, and they’re light on dill flavor. I want the best of both. Plus, they’re sold as a topping instead of a snack, which is strange.

I refuse to believe that what I love about pickles is unique to me. Grillo’s is right to throw its hat into the pickle-flavored potato chip ring; it’s just got to keep going a little further. The chips are great, and I’ll definitely be buying them for many future work lunches, but my search continues for the pickle chips that embody all the glory of a true dill pickle.

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