Chatter Pips!

December 6, 2006 at 3:25 pm | Posted in food | 18 Comments

I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog so far making fun of French fast food — from take-out pizza to microwaveable burgers to Flunch, the French just don’t seem to understand the joys of a well-made junk food.

There is, however, an exception: potato chips. My Lord, do the French have tasty potato chips. Now, it’s not their essential chippiness which is so superior to American brands — they aren’t particularly crunchier or lighter or less greasy. What they do have is flavors the likes of which I’ve never seen on the left side of the Atlantic.


Roast Chicken with Thyme. Sure, it sounds tasty, but is it really “Naturellement Irrésistible“?

Oh, is it ever. Basically, each chip is like an entire perfectly roasted chicken, miraculously shrunk down to one crisp, delicious mouthful. My first thought upon trying these was, whoa, how did they make my chicken so crunchy? It’s as if someone took the skin of a broiled chicken, then deep-fried it. Seriously, how could you go wrong?

Looking to branch out, I also tried these mustard flavored chips:

Mustard Potato Chips

When they say mustard, they aren’t talking about a delicate hint of mustardy aroma. These chips packed an intense, dijon-style wallop. Take back your “nacho cheesier” and “cooler ranch” — American chips never come close to this intensity of flavor, except in the occasional bag of salt and vinegar.

Which brings up an interesting question: why don’t these chips exist in America? Do the powers that be at Lays really believe that Americans wouldn’t enjoy chicken-infused potatoes?

I’ve been giving this a lot of thought lately, and I’ve concluded that this is not the reason. Everyone knows that American potato chips are coated with some mysterious substance that makes it impossible to open a bag without finishing it. It’s even in their ad campaigns: “Bet you can’t eat just one,” and “Crunch all you want, we’ll make more.” It’s almost like a sick challenge.

French potato chips, on the other hand, no matter how tasty, cannot be finished in one sitting. They are simply too strong to act as binge food. When I opened that small bag of mustard chips, I thought we’d finish them with lunch. In fact, I wound up putting them away, and it took us almost 48 hours to kill the whole bag. What would happen if you brought such chips to America? I can only imagine the chaos! Chip producers would be laying people off left and right, unable to support themselves as Americans made do with only one or two bags of chips per week. The whole potato-based economy would crumble to the ground, like a bag of chips that hasn’t been properly air-puffed!

So, yeah — don’t look for these flavors Stateside any time soon. The country just couldn’t take it.

chatter pips



  1. The Brits apparently have hundreds of flavors of chips too.

    I remember a few years ago, one of the American chip companies trying to experiment with some crazy new flavors here. I tried a small bag of “Coney Island” potatoe chips, which were hog-dog-with-mustard flavored. And yeah, they were about as nasty as they sound.

    After that, it was back to our traditional flavors for me.

  2. Hee Hee… I love me some French chips too! Although my biggest complaint, when I’m needing a binge, is that the bags are never big enough — whereas everything is supersized back home in the U.S., all bags here are fairly near miniature — at least in the gâteaux apéritifs department. Then again, you do usually get a few more chips for your money. Granted, this prevents you from completely pigging out in one sitting, but if you’re like me, you end up buying several bags at a time and ripping through them all at once! Uh, OK, maybe that’s just me…

    I’ve got a personal addiction to Belin’s version of the cheeto — cheeserific!

  3. Are you kidding, Gridley? I’d be all over those Coney Island chips. I just have a thing for weird potato chips, I guess.

  4. Alice — I will have to try this cheeto you speak of.

  5. It’s like that in New Zealand too! Besides chips, every crunchy snack food imaginable seemed to come in some kind of meat flavor. My favorite was Chikin in a Biscuit, which I was too afraid to try but had a delightfully trocheeish name whose rhythm stuck in my head for days.

    I couldn’t finish Roasted Garlic or Dill & Feta chips in one sitting, either.

    (Aulaitcru referred me here)

  6. I’ve eaten mustard ones back home in new orleans. Zapps made them. And wooo! were they strong!!! (but very very good)

  7. I would eat Chikin in a Biscuit chips in a heartbeat, even without the C.

    And Ilea, I know about Zapps — they’re the one American chip brand that rivals the Europeans. I’ve never been far enough South to buy them my self, but terry sent me some for Christmas a while back. Yum.

  8. And ham! Ham-flavoured chips! Why on earth hasn’t this caught on back home?

    Hey, you got ham in my potato chip. No, you got potato chips in my ham. Mmmmmm. Crispy ham.

  9. Ham chips… drool.

  10. Are you sure this isn’t a foodie blog?… 🙂

  11. I think of it as a culture blog — but food is a big part of culture, especially for the French.

  12. True.
    I would like to curse Alice if I may.
    I bought Belin “cheetos” last night.
    I’ve found a new binge food.

  13. Okay, the pictures of the various cheeses got me salivating. And now I want to try those mustard chips!

    Diet be damned!

  14. Quillon — Luckily, they are a whole ocean away, so you can resist temptation.

  15. My coworker just brought in beer and cheese flavored chips from Whole Foods today – maybe the craze is spreading!

  16. Beer and cheese? My God, that sounds amazing.

  17. […] French Nachos April 26, 2007 at 11:40 am | In food | I’m back, with my favorite hobby: analyzing French potato chip flavors. […]

  18. Mmmmmmm…. Moutard flavored chips…. I’ve been craving these ever since I left France…. they’re pretty much the shizzz…. if only I could find them in the US. They make the perfect accompaniment to a lazy Tuesday afternoon and glass of red wine!

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