The Takeout's fantasy food draft: Best salty snacks

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Photo: Vicheslav, Graphic: Natalie Peeples

Welcome, dear readers, to The Takeout Draft, our recurring feature that combines our love of food, fantasy sports, and arguing on Slack.

Every week, we will select a topic of conversation from the food and drink world. Takeout staffers will then field a team via the snake draft format. After five rounds, The Takeout commenteriat will vote on who they believe was victorious in that week’s draft. At the end of the year, the staffer with the most weekly victories will select a charity of his/her choice that The Takeout will make a donation towards.


First, here’s the winner of last week’s Takeout Draft: Best Breakfast Cereal, as voted by readers... for the second straight week in a total blowout, it’s Kate Bernot!

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Joining us this week is The Takeout contributor and beloved human garbage receptacle David Anthony! We’ve inputted our names into a $250,000 randomizer and here’s the draft order:

1. Kevin Pang
2. Kate Bernot
3. David Anthony

Six rounds this week. Let’s do it.

Kevin Pang: For my overall top pick I’m going with Cool Ranch Doritos. A tough choice between that and Nacho Cheese, but ultimately my decision was based on Cool Ranch powder being one of the great feats of culinary snack engineering. Tangy and bright, cool indeed, and it’s great as a taco shell also.

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David Anthony: That was going to be my first choice, because Cool Ranch Doritos are perfect.


Kate Bernot: Very hard to argue with that choice. Also, will anyone come to the defense of Nacho Cheese Doritos over Cool Ranch? Because I don’t think those people exist.

KP: Sounds like a Point/Counterpoint to me.

DA: I know some people who loathe Cool Ranch. Those people are wrong.

KB: Alright, I’m staying very classic with this pick: straight-up, Original Ruffles.


Probably my desert island salty snack. Oily in just the right way, salty in just the right way, crunchy in just the right way.

My favorite Ruffles chips are the ones that have folded over themselves to create little envelopes? Those are double-crunchy.


KP: This is an interesting point: I don’t know if my palate’s been numbed by sodium, but I can’t justify eating any unflavored potato chips.

KB: You’re too far gone, Kevin.

KP: Those chips must be absolutely perfect to be unflavored. Kettle-fried, at the least.


KB: Ruffles are pretty near perfect for me.

DA: I have to agree with Kate here, Ruffles are about as good as a plain chip can be. Plus, a perfect delivery vehicle for assorted dips.


KB: #TeamRuffles for life

DA: With my first of two picks, I’m going to stay in chip territory and go with what I like to call “the best chip in the game,” and that’s Kettle Brand Salt and Black Pepper chips.


Perfectly salty, a nice crunch, and plenty of pepper flavor. They own my heart.

KB: The black pepper is mighty peppery, to its credit.

KP: I believe this is the ruffled variety, correct?

DA: The crinkle cut, yes. There’s a little more heft to them and I appreciate that.

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And for my second pick, we’re entering pretzel territory with Snyder’s of Hanover Pretzel Pieces, Honey Mustard & Onion.


KP: yowza

KB: Oh my, Flavor Town.

DA: I feel like I need to take a shower after eating a handful of these, so that’s why I just always end up eating an entire bag.


This is also why I will not live much longer, but what a flavorful existence it’s been.

KB: Are these the pretzels covered in that impossible-to-wipe-off powder?

DA: That they are. It’s like they’ve been sandblasted with the stuff.

KB: Nefarious, but delicious.

Alright, for my second-round pick: Chex Mix

It’s like having six snacks in one!

KP: Almost feels like cheating but i’ll accept it

KB: And for all the flavor-blasted, EXTREME, salty-sweet varieties out there, the classic flavor still rules for me.


KP: Since it’s about the sum of the parts

KB: Precisely. I would never eat those bagel chip things solo, but in Chex Mix, they have a logical role.


Also I referred to Chex Mix as Chex Mex for years as a kid, which now inspires me to invent a DIY Tex Mex-spiced version.

DA: Would eat that.

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Photo: KeeTron (Getty Images)

KP: I’m so glad this fell to the No. 6 pick: Chili Cheese Fritos. I was this close to picking the original Fritos, which is what makes the Walking Taco so delightful, but my recent-ish discovery for the Chili Cheese variant has made my Fritos experience so much richer. It’s intense.

DA: I’m a big Fritos fan, but the Chili Cheese version is the best. Though the jalapeno ones aren’t too shabby either.


KB: I know the topic is salty snacks, but Fritos take salt to a level my mouth almost can’t handle.

I feel them sapping the moisture from my tongue in real time.

KP: I think Fritos + beer makes a good combo

For my next pick I’m going with something more nostalgic: Sour Cream & Onion Pringles. Imagine how mind-blowing it was to a 7-year-old where potato chips were neatly stacked in a pile! And how those uniform chips had that savory and creaminess to them. To a child, these were the “fancy chips.”


DA: Sour Cream & Onion is the worst chip flavor. Fight me.

KB: (ducks)

KP: It’s onion!

Who doesn’t like an onion dip

DA: I respect your decisions, but that artificial sour cream flavor makes me wish for death.


KB: This will not endear me to the youths and their ever-important youth vote, but I’m forgoing crunchy Flamin’ Hot Cheetos in favor of straight-up Puffed Cheetos.

Like Marnie’s guide to eating candy, this snack requires I eat it in a specific way.


DA: I feel like people don’t give puffed Cheetos the credit they deserve.

KB: I eat the first few puffs in one or two bites, and then for the next few, I let the puffs slowly dissolve on my tongue before chewing. I know it’s weird, but this is my truth.


DA: Honestly? Respect.

KP: Mmm... dissolved cheese corn film

DA: Though I’m a passionate hater of Sour Cream & Onion, that’s only because I hate the first part of the equation. So, onion fans, please allow me to extend the olive branch that is Funyuns


KP: Also underrated as a green bean topper

DA: This is very true!


KB: Flamin’ Hot Funyons exist, apparently. (I’m Googling Funyons.)

DA: I’m not much of a Flamin’ Hot guy, but I am a fan of spice. I also grew up getting my snacks from terrible gas stations, so I have to be true to my younger self and pick Andy Capp’s Hot Fries


KB: Is that a B-side or an unreleased track? You dug deep for that pick.

KP: I have NEVER tried it

DA: It’s a snack that’s near and dear to me. I so rarely get them, but I can still put down an entire bag in a single sitting when I do. The flavor is so distinctly its own, and the almost weightlessness of the “fries” turns it into something that’s totally perfect to me.


KB: Alright, no one has yet picked a popcorn option! I’m going Smartfood White Cheddar, which seems to check both the “weightless” and “filmy” boxes we so desire in a salty snack.

This is a quintessential salty snack for me because the serving size, every time, is one entire bag until it is gone.


The squeaky yielding texture is also very important to me.

KP: That popcorn weighs -1.6 oz.

DA: I so rarely buy popcorn for myself, but if there’s a bowl of white cheddar popcorn at a party, I will eat all of it like a monster.

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KP: I actually regret picking Sour Cream Pringles as early as I did, because I feel the actual best potato chip in America is: Zapp’s Voodoo Chips. This is their interpretation of the All-Dressed Up chips, and coupled with Zapp’s signature hard crunch, it’s a really stellar and flavor-intense chip.


KB: I also think those chips have some of the greatest bag artwork in the game.

DA: Agreed on all fronts here.

Perhaps I just love salt and therefore love all salty snacks.

KB: Your next round pick can be a salt shaker if you’d like.

DA: I’ll take two

KP: And after, there’s Pizzeria Pretzel Combos. Like Kate, I have a weird way of eating them. After popping them in my mouth for the first handful, I attempt to nibble around the pretzel until a smooth log of “pizza” filling remains.


Arrest me, officer

KB: You’ve spoken of your love for Combos before and this is one I just can’t comprehend. But that’s just more Combos for you, I guess.


DA: Combos are a snack I only consume when on a road trip. I don’t know why that is, but they feel so completely artificial that’s the only time I can do it and not feel judged.

KP: I don’t eat Combos often. But when I do, it’s a pizzeria’s worth.

KB: Alright, apparently cheese is just my favorite flavor when it comes to salty snacks because I’m going with Cheez-Its next.


KP: Surprised it fell this far

KB: I love that the flakes of salt are discernible atop the cracker.

Also the cheese is actually recognizable as something vaguely cheddar-dervied, so props for that.


DA: Cheez-Its have been ruined for me, as I have a friend that cold-smokes them and it makes them even better. Cheez-Its off the rack just don’t do the same thing for me anymore.

KP: GTFO here

DA: okay bye

KB: 🤯

Who is your friend and have they yet won a Nobel Prize.

DA: They should! They also do it with Cheetos and, let me tell you, that’s the best Cheeto you’ll ever have in your life.


DA: And since we’re getting deep into this, I’m going to snag something that I’m also surprised hasn’t come up: Planter’s honey roasted peanuts.

I think peanuts get overlooked in discussions of snacks, and that’s a shame.

KP: I was recently on a flight and had peanuts on an airplane for the first time in a decade and it was delicious


KB: I’m more of a Smokehouse Almonds girl but yes, nuts are underrated as a snack option.

DA: And for my final pick, once again keeping it local with Jay’s Hot Stuff chips. They are a complete palate destroyer, but they are so spicy and salty, they’re my go-to hot chip pick.


KB: Woe to those who do not know of Jay’s.

KP: Jay’s Open Pit BBQ ruffled potato chips are most excellent

KB: Okay, my last pick of course involves cheese again. I know I should try to diversify my portfolio but dammit I can’t help it: Classic Goldfish

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The air pocket adds such an enjoyable pop texture if you crush it between the top of your mouth and your tongue. Also, not enough very good snacks have novelty shapes.


Great in tomato soup, too, obviously.

DA: I am going to have to try that tomato soup move this winter.

KB: It’s like a crouton, but uh, it’s a Goldfish.

KP: OK, I struggled mightily with my last pick. Do I go something mainstream, or something a bit left field? You only live once so I’m going with the latter: Chicken In A Biskit. It’s buttery crackers that happen to be dusted with “chicken” powder. One of my earliest introductions to umami. Amazing stuff.


DA: I always forget those exist but, wow, really great stuff.

KB: I’ve never had the pleasure


DA: You must!

KB: I promise to buy a box next time I see them.

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Who won this week? Please vote!