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.
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 â€“ 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.
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.