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REVIEW: SunChips Sweet & Spicy BBQ Flavored Multigrain Snacks

Written by | February 22, 2013

Topics: 7 Rating, Chips, SunChips

SunChips Sweet & Spicy BBQ Flavored Multigrain Snacks

It’s fair to say I’m not the healthiest eater, a regrettable side effect of unrelenting stubbornness meeting finicky taste buds. As a result, I’m even more desperate than most people for reasonably healthy food that actually tastes good. And man cannot live on Pirate’s Booty alone, so when SunChips’ new Sweet & Spicy BBQ flavor hit grocery store shelves, I was all over that like, well, me on frozen yogurt.

The front of the bag really tries to sell you on the complexity of the tastes you’ll soon be mouthfeeling, showing the chips leaning against a dipping bowl of barbecue sauce, alongside chili peppers and that weird utensil that seems to be used exclusively to drip honey. (Or “hunny,” if you’re a silly ol’ bear.) It’s an intriguing montage that creates the expectation of a great pairing, like brownies and ice cream or Spider-Man and Optimus Prime.

In keeping with the health-conscious branding of SunChips, the label reminds you that they’re multigrain and a stamp emphasizes the all-natural ingredients and lack of MSG, preservatives, and artificial flavors. No complaints from me — their marketing strategy has always revolved around being healthier than the competition (30% less fat than regular potato chips, apparently), and you’ve gotta dance with the one who brought you.

The back further expands on the flavor explosion you’re apparently about to experience. It promises “a bold and unforgettable taste” that will “start the sweetest, sauciest fire in your mouth,” which hopefully is an exaggeration because hey, SunChips… flattered, even curious, but married. It also encourages you to check out their Facebook page, being updated by some eager, unpaid intern even as we speak. Yes, this is why you went to Brown for four years, Sarah. Working your way up!

But enough talk! Let’s talk about the actual chips themselves. Opening the bag releases a pleasing smell, like a somewhat muted aroma of barbecued ribs or chicken. It’s enjoyable without being overpowering, even if you stick your nose in the bag, although why would you do that unless you’re a weirdo food reviewer? In terms of appearance, you’ve seen SunChips before; these look identical except for a slightly darker, more orange shade than the plain variety. Given their focus on all natural ingredients, I’m assuming that is genuinely due to the barbecue coating, not just food coloring to differentiate them in your mental food rolodex.

SunChips Sweet & Spicy BBQ Flavored Multigrain Snacks Closeup

With respect to texture, they’re definitely crunchy — if you’ve never had a SunChip of any kind before, basically they feel just like any regular potato chip, possibly even slightly crunchier. But ultimately that doesn’t matter a whit if they taste terrible, now does it? Well, the good news is, they don’t taste terrible; in fact, they’re pretty darn good. The sweetness comes through loud and clear, more like molasses than super sugary, although it doesn’t linger for long. Still, I have a hard time imagining many people disliking the taste, even if it doesn’t absolutely blow you away.

However, I do have a bone to pick, which is simply this: I have tasted spicy before. I know from spicy. And this, my friends, is not spicy. Remember that business about the bold and unforgettable taste? I can’t give it the response it deserves, but suffice to say in gentleman’s terms, that’s a crock of horseshit.

This is as edgy and in-your-face as men piercing their ears nowadays: it still might slightly intimidate young kids, but nobody else is going to be impressed. (And yes, I had three piercings in college. Swimmers are pretty hardcore, you know.) The heat is conspicuously absent, and while I’m not looking to scorch my lips off, the word “spicy” evokes certain expectations that are simply not met. Compared to the sweetness, the spice is like unto a phantom flavor, evident in some pale shade but so insubstantial as to make you question your senses. And that’s the last time I read M. R. James before writing a review.

(Full disclosure: while the upper chips in the bag were almost entirely devoid of heat, around the halfway mark there started to be a tiny bit, presumably due to the spices settling downward. Still not much, but it at least approaches the heat of a typical “mild” flavor.)

Even without more spice, this is still a good flavor that I have no trouble recommending; it’s just that it could have been even better if the spice were commensurate with the sweetness. I don’t know if that would have made them less healthy or if artificial flavors are needed to really crank it up to 11, but it’s a missed opportunity. Even so, try not to let these slip away without giving them a shot; they might not knock your socks off, but they are good.

(Nutrition Facts — 1 oz (28g/about 15 chips) — 140 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6 grams of total fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1 gram of polyunsaturated fat, 3.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 135 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugars, and 2 grams of protein.)

Other Sun Chips Sweet & Spicy BBQ Flavored Chips reviews:
Chip Review

Item: SunChips Sweet & Spicy BBQ Flavored Multigrain Snacks
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 10.5 oz. bag
Purchased at: Giant
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: If you’re going to eat chips, these are among the least ass-fattening. Barbeque smell. Good texture. Effective degree of sweetness without being overly sugary. Spider-Man and Optimus Prime: great team-up, or the greatest team-up?
Cons: An Ivy League English degree is still useless. Misleading ad copy. As much heat as Hayden Christensen/Natalie Portman. Letting someone see you sticking your nose in a bag of chips.

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REVIEW: SunChips 6 Grain Medley Creamy Roasted Garlic

Written by | February 27, 2012

Topics: 5 Rating, Chips, SunChips

SunChips 6 Grain Medley Creamy Roasted Garlic

I don’t think I’ve ever gotten happiness from SunChips, or sunshine from them, if you will. Potato chips have made me happy (and heavy), but never SunChips.

I do enjoy SunChips, but it’s just that they aren’t as gratifying and addictive as regular potato chips. I don’t know, maybe fried potato has a certain place in my heart…probably the clogged part.

Although there was a time when I regularly bought SunChips, but I did so more for the bag than the snack inside. It was when they came in those compostable bags that everyone complained about because they were too loud. I’d use them to get off the phone with someone I didn’t want to talk to anymore by touching the bag to create static noises and telling the caller, “You’re breaking up. I’ll call you later.”

I thought after eating SunChips 6 Grain Medley Creamy Roasted Garlic, SunChips would bring me happiness because I love garlic, but these don’t quite do it for me.

This isn’t the first SunChips 6 Grain Medley flavor. The line was originally a Target exclusive and came in two flavors — Onion & Thyme and Parmesan & Herb.

So what are the six grains found in these chips?

You’ll find corn, wheat, oats, brown rice, buckwheat, and quinoa. All these grains provide 21 grams of whole grain goodness per one ounce serving. However, it’s mostly corn, wheat, and oats, which are three of the first four ingredients listed. As for brown rice, buckwheat, and quinoa, they make up three of the last four ingredients listed.

SunChips 6 Grain Medley Creamy Roasted Garlic Moneyshot

As for the chip’s garlic flavor, I was hoping for something strong enough to ward off Twilight fans who are on Team Edward and make it uncomfortable for someone to have a conversation with me in a Fiat 500, but it had a disappointing garlic flavor. Actually, I wouldn’t really consider it garlic. The three different cheeses (cheddar, Romano, and Parmesan), spices, and roasted garlic on the chips created a flavor that tastes more like ranch seasoning. Also, the chips aren’t heavily seasoned. I expected to have a lot of powdery goodness on my fingers to suck off, like with many other Frito-Lay snacks (Doritos and Cheetos), but my fingertips were just lightly dusted with seasoning.

The SunChips 6 Grain Medley Creamy Roasted Garlic was disappointing, and I don’t ever see myself craving them, unless my body evolves into a baby making machine. Then, I could experience pregnancy cravings that may involve me wanting these SunChips, and other weird foods to crave, like pork rinds, mustard, pickles, and mustard pickle sandwiches.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 ounce/about 15 chips – 140 calories, 60 calories, 6 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1 gram of polyunsaturated fat, 3.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Other SunChips 6 Grain Medley Creamy Roasted Garlic:
Junk Food Guy

Item: SunChips 6 Grain Medley Creamy Roasted Garlic
Price: $2.99 (on sale)
Size: 9 ounces
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Crunchy. Not horrible. 21 grams of whole grains per 1 ounce serving. No artificial flavors. No preservative. Getting to eat something called quinoa.
Cons: Weak garlic flavor that tasted more like ranch. Too lightly seasoned. Not addictive, like potato chips. Doesn’t come in noisy compostable bag. Having a conversation with a garlic lover in a Fiat 500.

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REVIEW: SunChips Jalapeno Jack Flavored Multigrain Snacks

Written by | March 9, 2011

Topics: 6 Rating, Chips, SunChips

SunChips Jalapeño Jack Flavored Multigrain Snacks Bag

In the large, often nepotistic and incestuous (both words I used to win the 6th grade regional spelling bee) world of Frito-Lay, SunChips is the hippy that chained itself to a tree to prevent loggers from cutting down the local forest. SunChips got pepper-sprayed for protesting animal testing. SunChips likes to play hacky sack.

SunChips also created a chip bag that biodegrades, which is obviously cool and very environmentally friendly. However, people didn’t like it, because it was too loud. Really. Too loud. I’m far from a treehugger, but seriously people, don’t be assholes. It’s a bag that dissolves in 14 weeks. Deal with the crinkling. Not to be deterred, SunChips created a quieter bag, because SunChips is determined to save the planet, despite all those audio-sensitive butt-horns. Unfortunately, only specially-marked bags of Original flavor are biodegradable, so my bag of Jalapeño Jack SunChips will be hanging around the landfill for a while.

SunChips Jalapeño Jack Flavored Multigrain Snacks All Natural

Do not despair, however; these chips are good for you! Made with all natural ingredients, no preservatives and no artificial flavors, Jalapeño Jack also contains no MSG, 0 grams of trans fat, and 18 grams of Whole Grain! It’s like a Whole Foods store in a bag!

Ehhh, not so fast there, buddy. I always thought SunChips were a healthier alternative to other chips, but I stumbled across an interesting comparison – Jalapeño Jack SunChips just baaaarely edge out Tostitos Artisan Recipes chips in calories and fat, actually contain more sodium, and contain just one gram more of dietary fiber. Now, granted, nutritionally they blow away the greasier chips, but I hold SunChips to a higher standard, and I found it surprising that Tostitos could go toe-to-toe with Frito-Lay’s “healthy” chips.

But hey! 18 grams of Whole Grains! Let’s see Tostitos beat THAT! (They could actually beat that I have no idea.)

Okay, now that I’ve blown your mind and shattered your worldview about the nutritional integrity of SunChips, let’s get to the chips themselves. I have to admit, I’ve had SunChips once, maybe twice, many years ago. I’ve never been a consciously healthy eater (shocking!), so when I’m in the chip aisle, there’s about 200 other chips I’d rather buy than SunChips. I have a very vague memory of what they taste like. I’ll take this as an advantage, as I can come to the table with a fresh palate.

SunChips Jalapeño Jack Flavored Multigrain Snacks Chips

From the mouth of SunChips: “Jalapeño Jack flavored SunChips are just the right balance of tongue-tingling Jalapeño with the creamy smooth taste of Monterey Jack cheese. Our newest creation is for bold snackers who like a chip with a little kick.”

One point to SunChips for actually utilizing the diacritical tilde. I go into an unrealistic rage whenever I see someone use the word jalapeno. I worked for a company owned by Spaniards for four years, and alt+0241 comes as naturally to me as using the shift button instead of caps lock when I’m yelling at someone on the Internet. Make the extra effort, people. It will give grammar spergs one less twitch of the eye.

Where was I? Oh, right, the chips! I actually didn’t think jalapeño would be a good fit with so much whole grain. Not sure why; they just didn’t seem like a good fit. I also figured the flavors would be pretty subtle. Of the few SunChips I’ve had, they were all Original flavor, but it just seemed to me that SunChips would go the muted route.

I was pleased to find I was wrong on at least one of these points. When I opened the bag, I was greeted with a very strong but pleasant spicy cheese smell. The cheese came through more in the smell than the taste, however. There was a nice hint of cheese when the chip hit my tongue, but it was quickly overshadowed by the wheat flavor of the chip itself and the Jalapeño flavor powder. They claim the cheese to be Monterey Jack, but really, let’s be honest, there’s pretty much two cheese flavors in the chip world – “nacho” and “generic cheese flavor that can be passed off as pretty much any other cheese”. At least, that’s how I feel. Perhaps my palate isn’t refined enough to distinguish between different cheese powders.

The Jalapeño heat built as I went along, with the height of the heat being just right. It definitely wasn’t bashful, but it didn’t hit you over the head, either. I enjoyed the wheat flavor, too, but I’m not sure the two should have joined forces. It wasn’t disgusting, or even disconcerting; I just feel like the two flavors were fighting for dominance over my taste buds, instead of holding hands and being friends.

I didn’t not like SunChips Jalapeño Jack Flavored Multigrain Snacks, but they didn’t exactly wow me. The hint of cheese is tasty, but quickly disappears, and the Jalapeño and wheat don’t mesh as well as say, Jalapeño and tortilla fit together. With so many other chip options out there, I’ll probably never buy these again, but if they were offered to me as a free snack, I wouldn’t turn them down. For die-hard SunChip fans, they might be worth a try.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 ounce/about 15 chips – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 6 grams of total fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 3.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 135 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of total carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 2 grams of sugars, 2 grams of protein, 2% iron, 6% vitamin E, 2% niacin, 4% phosphorus, 2% magnesium.)

Item: SunChips Jalapeño Jack Flavored Multigrain Snacks
Price: $2.49 (on sale; reg. $3.79)
Size: 10.5 ounces
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Jalapeño has just the right of heat. Diacritical tildes. All-natural ingredients with 18 grams of Whole Grains. Hippies getting pepper sprayed. Hint of cheese was good.
Cons: Jalapeño and wheat didn’t go together that well. Hacky sacks. Not enough cheese flavor. Jalapeno. SunChips not as healthy as you’d think.

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NEWS: SunChips 6 Grain Medley Makes Me Wish Moore’s Law Applies To SunChips Like It Does With Computer Chips

Written by | March 8, 2011

Topics: Chips, SunChips

Target Springfield, VA

Every Saturday, at about 10 PM, I open up my web browser and direct it to the Target website. I’m there to look at Target’s weekly ad because I don’t subscribe to the newspaper that has the Target circular stuffed into its Sunday edition. Yes, I am helping with the downfall of the local newspaper industry.

While virtually flipping through the pages of the latest Target ad, I noticed the SunChips 6 Grain Medley. These SunChips come in two fancy pancy flavors — Onion & Thyme and Parmesan & Herb.

They’re available in 9-ounce bag and are Target-exclusives, so you’re not going to find them at Kmart, but really, who goes to Kmart nowadays? It’s a third-tier mom and pops store crusher, which combines the depressing aura of Walmart with the red of Target.

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NEWS: Jalapeno Jack SunChips To Brighten Your Day With A Flash of Spice and a Burst of Cheese…Ugh, I’ve Read Way Too Many Press Releases

Written by | February 24, 2011

Topics: Chips, SunChips

Big Sur - Into The Sun HDR

Hey, are you one of those people who buy SunChips because they’re a slightly healthier alternative to greasy potato chips or because you feel your Subway sandwich is lonely? If you are, I’ve got exciting news for you and your lonely Subway sandwich. Frito-Lay recently introduced their new Jalapeno Jack SunChips, which combines jalapeno spices and Monterey Jack cheese.

Just like other SunChips flavors, the Jalapeno Jack has 18 grams of whole grains per serving and is made with all-natural ingredients. Yeah, take that, greasy potato chips that I’m craving right now. Also, Jalapeno Jack SunChips don’t contain MSG, preservatives, and artificial flavors. And they will come in an un-compostable bag that will keep quiet as you eat through it and your Subway sandwich.

About 15 chips will provide 140 calories, 6 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 3.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 135 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

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