Thursday, 28 August 2008

Of crispy snackery

I am not by habit a frequent consumer of crisps, that rich variety of snackery made from derivatives of potato or maize.

But from time to time I do fancy something crispy and crunchy. And on those occasions celery don't cut it, baby.

As you may already have postulated, today was such a day, and on a whim I picked up a bag of Hula Hoops Original ("Potato Rings") and Nik Naks Nice 'n' Spicy, ("Knobbly Freaky Sticks of Corn").

Hands shaking with anticipation, I opened the Nik Naks first - and at first sight knew immediately that they were not what I wanted in my mouth. The lurid orange-coloured, well, knobbly sticks of corn looked flat-out unappetising from the get-go. Nevertheless, I selected one entirely at random and popped it between the old kissing apparatus, only to pull a face of abject dis-satisfaction. The texture was horrible, cloying; and the flavour vile, a kind of broad spectrum "curry powder" taste with no other notes or flavours.

Quietly self-satisfied with the sophistication of my pallette, I put the packet of extruded corn snacks to one side and opened the Hula Hoops.

I have a fondness for Hula Hoops - I particularly enjoy the pleasing crunch they offer. And they were invented in the same year as I was born (the back of the packet informs me), which is a pleasing.

But they have so little flavour; the texture is all reconstituted potato - they make no pretense at being a potato, unlike regular crispies. So other than the crunch, they have nothing appealing about them; the texture after the crunch is horrible, and the flavour all potato starch and oil.

The back of the packets, fact fans, read as follows:

Hula Hoops Potato Rings

Ingredients: Potato (potato starch & dried potato), Sunflower Oil (28%), Rice Flour, Maize Flour, Salt, Potassium Chloride.

Nik Naks Corn Snacks

Ingredients: Maize, Sunflower Oil (25%), Vegetable Oil (13%), Nice 'n' spicy flavour [sugar, salt, acidity regulator: sodium diacetate, dried glucose syrup, lactose, flavour enhancer: monosodium glutamate, dried onion, citric acid, malic acid,, flavourings (contains soya sauce), curry powder (spices, rice flour), dried tomato, colour: paprika extract, spice, malt extract, dried malt vinegar].

I am continually surprised that manufacturers have to list all their unpleasant ingredients, but can get away with the mysteriously vague "spices" when it comes to the flavourings.


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