Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Ruffles New Loaded Potato Skins Potato Chips

The creation of a new potato chip flavour is on par, for me, with the discovery of a new galaxy or never-before-seen animal species. Much like the Barbiesaurus, pictured above, thought extinct for centuries but rediscovered by Professor Gluckman (he's the one she's frolicking with while his assistant, Boris, looks on) in an old toy box in an abandoned building in Buenos Aires. So there I was scouring the supermarket aisles looking for something new to test the powers of my palate with when these new Ruffles pretty much jumped out at me. I think it was the image on the packaging that got me. Because the sight of a loaded potato skin is an awe-inspiring thing. You can have your Mount Rushmores, your Grand Canyons, your Canadian Rockies, European cathedrals, Mona Lisas or Sistine Chapels. I'll take a fully loaded potato skin drooping cheese, bacon and sour cream every time. For eating or just gazing at, my heart skips a beat when I'm in the vicinity of one of these flayed spuds' heavily-ladened skins. The description on the back of the package invites you to open the bag and take a deep breath. I did just that. Like a sommelier my nose is well-trained except my expertise is in the art of simulated flavours with its many nuances and layered aromas so that even if the smell of bacon is overpowering I can still detect a subtle hint of green onion beneath the porky whiff. My first snort didn't give me much but then I realized that, just like with a fine wine, you need to let some oxygen into the bag to activate the artificial flavouring's slumbering chemical additives and let the aromas circulate with the air molecules to bring out the full potential of the potato chip. My second sniff was far more satisfying, especially after clearing my nasal cavities with a couple of good blows into a Kleenex, and a kind of earthy, potato skin aroma rose up to catch way back in my nose's cilia, triggering my neurons into believing it was potato skin I was smelling, mixed with the heady scent of bacon, cheese and all the fixings. But really, it's no great stretch because it's already a potato chip simulating a potato skin so that's half the battle won right there. Honestly, a potato chip that tastes like a potato? I never thought I'd live to see the day. They can make potato chips to taste like chicken wings, onion rings, even Singapore Slings (why isn't anyone working on this?), but this new creation is truly unique. The flavour was far more subtle than I expected and it took just over half a bag before I really started to get the full range of tastes the image on the bag promised. Surprisingly, with as robust a mix as this potato chip is spritzed with, there's very little afterburn or lingering aftertaste. It's as clean as a mountain spring of monosodium glutamate and almost as refreshing. The flavour additives cling well to the ridged surfaces and when I read the ingredients list and saw the words "specially selected potatoes," I knew these Ruffles people weren't fooling around with just some knock-off flavour that you might find at a dollar store with potatoes grown near Chernobyl. No, I imagine these potatoes being hand-selected by spud experts, probed and prodded and passing the same tests you may have had to endure in order to secure a life insurance policy. I think the only way to top these things is to crumble up a bag of them and sprinkle them over real loaded potato skins. The thought of it is almost heart-stopping. Just be sure, if you are to try this at home, that you have a defibrillator handy.

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