By Melissa Breyer, Mother Nature Network
Potato chipsIt's often hard to imagine simpler times - a world without computers, mobile phones, or a million flavors of potato chips. Back in the chip's humble 19th-century beginning, it was seasoned simply with salt and remained mostly unmolested until the 1950s. That's when Joe "Spud" Murphy, the owner of Irish chip company Tayto, developed the technology to add flavor to chips during the manufacturing process. Murphy created the world's first seasoned chips, Cheese & Onion and Salt & Vinegar, and there's been no looking back since. Case in point? The following...
1. Tako Octopus Flavored Chips
Although shaped more fishlike than cephalopod, these funky snacks from Nong Shim are described by the company as "Round & cute octopus-shaped (joyful to the eye); tasty & salty; and smell of octopus." Reviewers describe them as strange, fishy, octopus-like and ... addictive!
2. Walkers Cajun Squirrel
What the huh? Squirrel? Those zany Brits. Cajun Squirrel was just one of the six flavors that the British company selected for its "Do Us a Flavour" campaign in which customers were asked to vote on the flavor they most wanted to come to fruition. The other contenders?Fish and Chips, Chili and Chocolate, Crispy Duck and Hoisin, Onion Bhaji, and Builder's Breakfast, a mix of egg, bacon, sausage and beans (which took home the gold).
3. Lays Cheeseburger
French cheeseburger-flavored chips - the cultural mash-up involved here is a bit hard to grasp. Maybe they're so bad they're good? Maybe this is just the first step, the gateway flavor for French chips, paving the road for something more French in the future, like escargot or cassoulet chips?
4. Pringles Tandori Chicken, Crispy Chicken, Milky Shoyu Butter
We know that Pringles are "newfangled" and all, but crispy chicken and shoyu butter flavors? Milky, no less? We imagine the kids in China are loving them. Not much of a surprise that the man who developed the machine that cooks Pringles is Gene Wolfe, the author best known for science fiction and fantasy novels.
5. Shearer's Home Run Hot Dog
Shearer's Rippled Home Run Hot Dog Potato Chips come complete with a big dose of Americana, and the flavor of plump, juicy Sugardale beef wieners smothered with mustard and relish, according the Shearer's website. Unless actual hot dogs are a part of the ever-mysterious "natural flavoring" listing in the ingredient panel, no hot dogs were harmed in the making of these chips.
6. Walkers Turkey and Stuffing
The British snack company responsible for Cajun Squirrel crisps brings us a rather tame chip, all things considered, with its tried-and-true Turkey and Stuffing flavor. Notes of gamey dark meat and a lot of sage come to mind. The only thing worse would be the addition of candied yams, cranberries and pumpkin pie.
7. Herr's Kansas City Prime Steak
Herr's describes this wonder of the snack world as a "unique flavor sensation ... topped with the flavor of thick and juicy steak. It's hard to find this bold flavor outside of your favorite steakhouse." If you like meat-flavor from non-meaty sources, go for it. But keep in mind one reviewer's description of them as predominantly tasting like "beefy garlic salt."
8. Zapp's Spicy Cajun Crawtators
Louisiana-based Zapp's has been supplying unique flavors to chip lovers from the get-go. Founded in 1985, the company launched with the Spicy Cajun Crawtator and its list of products now includes Voodoo, Baby Back Ribs, Jalapeno, and Cajun Dill - mainstay flavors that are a veritable institution in New Orleans. As for the Crawtators, they're not exactly redolent with the fishy musk of mudbugs, but they are spicy ... and somehow manage to taste just like Louisiana.