The Definitive British Crisp Ranking (According to an American)
About three months ago, I decided to completely alienate myself at the Ivanti office by writing a definitive ranking of British biscuits. I thought the UK was divided in the Brexit dealings, but it turns out all you need to unify the country is to have an American call Jaffa Cakes disgusting. I practically lost my visa over the controversy.
But baby, this American is back, ready to give my fire takes on an equally important topic: British crisps.
Here is a quick glossary of terms for my fellow Yankees:
- Crisps (UK) = Chips (USA), which is kind of confusing, because:
- Chips (UK) = Fries (USA). But to make the math even more difficult:
- Chips (UK) ≠ Wedges, thin fries, sweet potato fries, or curly fries.
Example: If you want thicker fries with your fish, you order fish and chips. If you want thin fries with your burger, you order fries or French fries. If you want a side of sweet potato fries, you order that, not sweet potato chips.
And one more, to really screw with you:
- French fries (UK) = A type of crisp (a USA chip) but also refers to a skinny chip (UK).
Now, I really don’t want to be the annoying American tweeting out insults and criticisms like a certain president of ours, and as a noted chip lover in the US, I wanted to fall in love with British crisps. But with crisps flavors like prawn (shrimp) cocktail, pickled onion, scampi and lemon, and marmite, it’s hard to feign that famous British politeness. So, let’s dive in as I laugh in the face of swimsuit season and eat the equivalent of two family-size bags in thirty minutes. I present to you the definitive British crisp ranking, from worst to best.
20. Pickled Onion Monster Munch
- Description: A massive airy crisp in the shape of a circle with four fingers. You can smell them a mile away. You can feel them destroying your gums and the roof of your mouth as you chew.
- My thoughts: A picture’s worth a thousand words, but in this video’s case, I’m speechless.
19. Mr. Porky Crackles
- Description: These are bits of pork rind. I could smell the opened bag from across the room and sniffing the pork rind directly had me feeling nauseous. Some parts are extremely crunchy while other pieces (that contain the pork fat) are soft. Apparently, if you’re lucky, you’ll get one that still has pig hair on it.
- My thoughts: There were a lot of gross crisps, but this is the only one that made feel like I was going to throw up.
18. Scampi ‘n’ Lemon Nik Naks and Scampi Fries
- Description: Although both of these are different shapes and sizes, they have a lot in common. They smell like death. Opening the bag fills the room with the scent of an old fish that’s been sitting out in the sun.
- My thoughts: These are truly shocking. First, I fundamentally believe that “Scampi and Lemon” is great for pasta, but is not a flavor that needs to be replicated and mass produced. I’ve never had a sour chip, but these somehow are both sour and stale.
- Description: They look like little sticks with part of the bark stripped off. These traditional Christmas crisps are marmite flavor, which is basically yeast.
- My thoughts: Are you in the mood to eat a burnt stick? Twiglets are perfect for you!
16. Pickled Onion Space Raiders
- Description: Another airy crisp in the shape of little alien heads with very retro packaging. As far as presentation, these get a 10/10.
- My thoughts: I just don’t understand why pickled onion crisps need to exist.
15. Salt and Vinegar Squares and Discos
- Description: Both of these pack a punch of salt and vinegar flavor. Squares sort of have the consistency of a pita chip, where Discos are more stale circles.
- My thoughts: I’m not a salt and vinegar person, so I didn’t like these, but I could see how a reasonable human would enjoy them.
14. Prawn Cocktail Skips
- Description: Opening up a bag of Skips, you are immediately hit with the smell of the ocean and seafood. Which is great, if you’re at the beach. Inside of a little bag of chips? Not so much…
- My thoughts: Like Nik Naks, their smell is worse than the taste. They fade away fairly quickly, sort of melting in your mouth, but not in a good way. They taste weirdly sweet, which is surprising in a shrimp flavored chip. Overall, everything about these was just plain weird.
13. Real Roast Ox Crisps
- Description: A strong meaty smell and flavor.
- My thoughts: Roast ox – the chip flavor nobody asked for but they made it anyway.
12. Spicy Tomato Snaps, Pom-Bears, Cheddar Quavers, and Salt and Vinegar Chipsticks
- Description: These are four different crisps that are basically interchangeable. They all have the consistency of plain Veggie Straws in the US, but are just different shapes and are seasoned differently.
- My thoughts: Spicy tomato flavor isn’t as bad as it sounds. Cheddar Quavers are probably the best of these four, but none of them are particularly special. One important thing to note, according to Ivanti Sales Development Representative and Englishman Lee Crombie, “Quavers stick around. You’ll burp three days later and taste it again.” I think that says it all.
11. Cheese Savouries
- Description: Cheese flavored crackers
- My thoughts: A half-assed version of Goldfish. Half the flavor, half the fun.
10. Nik Naks Nice ‘n’ Spicy
- Description: Little squares with a spicy tomato flavor
- My thoughts: These are pretty decent. Honestly, at this point, I’m just grateful for anything that isn’t fish flavored.
9. Hula Hoops and Wheat Crunchies (I tried the Crispy Bacon flavor and the Cheddar and Onion)
- Description: Cylinder crisps that are completely hollow. Hula Hoops are smaller where Wheat Crunchies are longer.
- My thoughts: These are almost too crunchy to eat, you could break a tooth of these if you aren’t careful. You must burn more calories trying to chew them than you gain ingesting them. But these will work in a pinch when you’re hit with a snack craving.
- Description: The UK’s answer to my burning question: Where are the Cheetos?
- My thoughts: First off, I feel like I’m living in a Dr. Seuss book. Between Wosits, Twiglets, Discos, and Frazzles, these crisp names are certainly stranger than fiction. Wotsits taste like puffy Cheetos with less fake cheese flavor.
I was treated to another “Sara Coppock Special” with Wotsits (remember, she is the creator of the famous Rich Tea Sandwich from the biscuit blog). It’s called a Crisp Butty, which is two pieces of bread with cream cheese and Wotsits in the middle. Basically if you’re in the mood for empty carbs, this is the sandwich for you.
7. Sensations Roasted Chicken and Thyme
- Description: I’ve been told these are “posh crisps” aka rich people crisps. These have the same look and feel as Classic Lays, but BOY OH BOY the taste is something very, very different.
- My thoughts: Remember in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when Willy Wonka made a stick of gum that was a whole meal? This chip is a whole roast dinner squeezed into the metaphorical stick of gum. It really is shocking to bite into a chip and get hit by the overwhelming flavor of chicken. Even though these are really weird, they are tasty.
6. Ringos Onion Rings
- Description: Very similar to Funyuns in the US. Onion flavored circles.
- My thoughts: Your breath will be crazy after eating these. But to be fair, your breath will be even crazier if you eat all of these crisps in one sitting, so who am I to judge? These are very addictive though, it would be easy to blow through a bag.
5. Ready Salted Walkers (I also tried Beef and Onion flavor)
- Description: Very similar to a Lays potato chip
- My thoughts: A classic. Less salty than Lays but still hits the spot for any potato chip craving.
4. McCoy’s (I tried the Salted flavor and Cheddar and Onion)
- Description: Like Wavy Lays or Ruffles, a classic ridge cut chip
- My thoughts: There is a little bit less seasoning than an American chip would have, but these are great. Exactly what you look for when you want a crisp.
3. Crispy Bacon Frazzles
- Description: They come in the shape of little pieces of bacon, streaks and all. They are another airy one, drenched in bacon flavor.
- My thoughts: I’m a big fan of bacon, but not a big fan of bacon flavored stuff. I suppose you could call me a purist. But I have to admit, these are peculiar, but delicious. They stink, you’ll smell them on your fingers for ages, and they are very salty, but overall I really enjoyed them.
2. French Fries (I tried the Cheddar and Onion flavor and Plain Salted)
- Description: Very thin and crunchy while still holding true to the airiness of a British crisp
- My thoughts: Who would have thought that crisp with the name that perplexes me the most would end up bringing me the most joy? These simple little crisps were an absolute delight.
1. Sensations Thai Sweet Chili
- Description: Classic potato chips with a sweet and spicy seasoning
- My thoughts: This is the perfect crisp, and I’d venture to say, even better than most crisps in America (gasp!). They are spicy without being overpowering and a light sweetness brings all of the flavors together.
British crisps are better than American chips in three ways:
- They have more interesting names
- They come in fun shapes and there is a bigger variety of textures
- They aren’t afraid of unique flavors and really commit to wacky combinations
Even considering these factors, America pulls ahead in the most important category: taste. Nothing can quite compete with our greasy, calorie-filled chips that leave a heavenly layer of fake cheese dust on your fingers.
America: home of the free, land of the Lays.