I've gone on record stating that I don't like kettle-style chips, but that was before I had Zapp's, a regional brand available throughout Louisiana.* Their regular flavor are thick-cut, extra crunchy, and very light blond in color, as all good chips should be, but it's their specialty flavors that really shine.
Cajun Crawtators've got a vinegary kick with the distinct celery and paprika flavor of Old Bay, while Cajun Dill combines two of my favorite things in the world: pickles and heat.
But the best flavor is their limited edition VooDoo Chips. It's tough to put your finger on exactly what they taste like, and for good reason. According to the package:
"Voodoo flavor is a result of an accident. An employee was moving a pallet of spices off the top shelf, and dropped it. While cleaning it up, someone stuck their finger into the mixture of about 5 flavors and pronounced it great."
It starts off with the vinegary nose of a salt and vinegar chip before settling down with the smoky sweetness of sweet barbecue sauce. There's a sharp, fresh, jalapeño-like finish, and perhaps a touch of that Old Bay aroma that lingers after you've made it about halfway through the bag.
Unfortunately, Zapp's ain't available everywhere, but you can order them online for $24 for a case of 25 bags, including shipping. That's cheaper than buying bags of Lay's at the corner deli. I just got back from Louisiana late last night,** and I've already got a case en route to the office as I write. I'm under their spell.
Anyone else got a favorite regional brand of chips worth seeking out?
*I've been spending a lot of time in southern Louisiana recently—you can expect plenty of coverage in the coming days and weeks.
**After our connection through Miami was delayed for an hour by President Obama's jet and a further hour by golf-ball sized hail in New York.