We all know that men's and women's needs are different. Men have certain candle requirements, while women need an appropriately bedazzled pen to get any real work done. Sadly, much of the chip world stubbornly refuses to acknowledge these differences, offering an endless array of confusing, gender neutral snacks.
Thankfully, Ruffles is looking to change all of that. Their new Ruffles Ultimate "feature [the] deepest Ruffles Ridges ever to load up with bold real-food dips made with favorite "man" foods and flavors". That's right, chips with deep ridges plus dips made of foods for men! Let's fist bump and check 'em out.
All joking aside I am completely on board with the Ultimate's ridge architecture, which is indeed quite deep. Just look at that dramatic zig-zag action.
They are a lot of fun to crunch, and the additional surface area provides more space for seasoning. What really stands out (and don't tell Ruffles because I think it would just crush them) is how delicate the chips are. Apply gentle pressure and they shatter in a satisfying burst.
The schtick with these chips is that the deeper ridges provide more cavities for scooping up dip. And Ruffles came up two "complementary" dips that each "pair" with one of the chips. I tasted the chips. I tasted the dips. I lived to write the following.
The Chip: Kickin' Jalapeño Ranch
Expecting a veritable flavor kick to the mouth, I was shocked at how nuanced these were. Buttermilk-y ranch starts the show and then gracefully bows to a really grassy, vegetal jalapeño flavor. Only after swallowing did a mellow heat surface. I like these chips—the snack equivalent of a green salad with Ranch dressing. This doesn't sound manly at all.
The Dip: Smokehouse Bacon
Thick, white, vaguely ranch-y dip with lots of bacon bits. A flavor vacuum that sucks the fun out of an otherwise enjoyable chip.
The Chip: Sweet & Smokin' BBQ
An almost caramel-like sweetness dominates this otherwise run of the mill BBQ chip. Like a passed out toddler, the smoke is present but not annoying and the heat is nearly identical in intensity to the Jalapeño Ranch. I'd eat these. Not a stand out BBQ chip, but still fun to crunch.
The Dip: Beef N' Cheese
I think I missed the day at culinary school when they taught us how to make classic beef and cheese sauce for drizzling atop barbecued brisket. The combination of chip and dip here is really confusing, and it doesn't help any that the dip is, well, terrible. It's bland, jellied nacho cheese pockmarked with a few pasty bites of "beef brisket". In my jar much of the beef had migrated—against all gloppy oddsMdash;to the bottom, creating the neanderthal equivalent of fruit on the bottom yogurt.
Folks who follow my chipping know that I'm no wimp when it comes to consuming some pretty highly processed foods. I mean, I did a soda and Cool Ranch Doritos pairing . But I have to say I was a little intimidated by the combined ingredient list of chip and dip. So I did a little counting.
It turns out that for each bite of Sweet & Smokin' BBQ chip and Beef N' Cheese dip, I'd eaten over 65 different ingredients. And that brings me to my final point: value. Where else can dudes conveniently consume almost 70 unique ingredients for under 10 bucks? In the end, Ruffles might just be onto something: guys love a good food bargain.
About the author: Dan is an associate editor of Cook's Illustrated and an on-screen test cook for America's Test Kitchen. Dan cut his culinary teeth as a young apprentice in rural Hungary, and has the paprika-stained gut to prove it. He likes food, he likes science, and he likes you. Follow him on Twitter @testcook.