Chip-Faced: We Try All the Flavors of Larry the Cable Guy's Tater Chips
My first thought was that surely Larry had stepped a bit outside of his wheelhouse in creating a line of chips. Then I checked out his Git-R-Done Foundation website and learned just how out of the loop I was. Larry the Cable Guy (his real name is Daniel Lawrence Whitney, and no, that's not his natural accent) has already slapped his name onto everything from Dawg (sic) Treats to Smoky Bacon Jalapeño Mac & Cheese (available in 3 pound frozen packages) to Lord, I Apologize Barbecue Sauce. Tater chips? Heck, that's child's play for a packaged food professional. Before I get into the tasting portion of today's post, let's look at Larry's own words on the subject:
Git-R-Done, indeed. The chips are thin (think classic Lay's), crispy, a bit greasy, and as eloquently promised on the back of the bag, pretty intensely seasoned. They aren't sold in Boston (or anywhere in the Northeast for that matter) so I had to order mine online, which meant getting 12 bags of each flavor. That's a lot of chips, even for me, so I started taking spare bags to gatherings and parties where I can honestly say, they were always a hit.
Fried Dill Pickle
It kind of feels like cheating to call a pickle chip a fried pickle chip, but then again arguing semantics with Larry also feels like cheating. Plus, if the chips are good (they are) why argue at all? A bit milder in acidity than most pickle chips I've had, they feature a welcome hit of dill.
As we all know, most barbecue chips taste like barbecue seasonings with perhaps a little smoke flavor; rarely do they actually taste like barbecued meat. In that vein, I applaud Larry's effort here. While the barbecue flavor tastes straight out of the bottle, the umami-rich hit of meat brings some complexity to the party.
Since having tasted a couple smuggled bags of Burger King Whopper chips from Mexico, I've been a little apprehensive about trying other brands of cheeseburger chips. Could they ever possibly measure up? Well, if these chips are any indication, the answer is probably 'no'. But that doesn't mean these aren't still great chips. More minimalist slider than Have-it-Your-Way-Whopper, Larry's Cheeseburger chips hit hard on the beef and cheese and balance with just a hint of pickle (add a Fried Dill Pickle chip for more!).
I expected these chips to taste of little more than hot sauce and perhaps something buttery, and I was ready to be disappointed with them. In fact, they taste remarkably close to the Real McCoy. Larry achieves chicken-y flavor with real chemistry: autolyzed yeast extract, disodium inosinate, and disodium guanylate. I like my Buffalo wings pretty spicy (that blue cheese should have to earn it's palate-cooling keep) and if you eat enough of these chips the heat builds to appreciable levels.
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.