I had to call my cable company regarding some serious internet connectivity issues over the weekend. For those of you who have ever had the misfortune of having to contact your cable provider for any reason, I don’t have to tell you that it was a long, tedious process, fraught with drama. There was shouting, pleading, whining, and some profanity, and that was before I even spoke to a person. The automated system kept misinterpreting my voice commands, putting me on hold, and then kicking me out to the main menu in an endless loop of broken promises.
What kept me sane in those terrible moments before I finally broke through to an actual human being? Some crispy, corn-based snacks in the form of geometric shapes. Special K’s new Popcorn Chips are crunchy baked snacks that taste like tortilla chips but look like Styrofoam triangles. And they are the one thing that kept me from crossing completely over from blissful, crunchy serenity waiting on hold for 20 minutes to completely losing my shit on some innocent customer service representative who probably hates their job as much as I hate their company’s chirpy, ad-filled phone queue soundtrack.
Special K Popcorn Chips are made from corn (natch), and they taste like it. However, I never got the sensation of eating popcorn. It was more like I was eating tortilla chips. By referring to these thingies as “Popcorn Chips,” Special K may have wanted to emphasize how their snacks are baked and are similar in texture to Pop Chips. Like Pop Chips, Special K Popcorn Chips are low in fat and present a healthier option for those in need of a crunchy, convenient snack. Unlike Pop Chips, they have no association with Ashton Kutcher. See? Special K Popcorn Chips are already winning at life. They also appear thick enough to withstand some dipping as well, so if you’re curious as to whether a Popcorn Chip mixes with ranch dressing or nacho cheese and don’t care about fat, have at it.
I sampled two flavors of Special K Popcorn Chips: “Sweet and Salty” and “Butter.” Sweet and Salty was the chip flavor that kept me from crossing over into the Danger Zone during my telephone adventure. They’re very lightly sweetened, which makes their flavor profile a bit more complex than I first expected it to be. The sweetness mingles nicely with the saltiness, which provides a pleasantly addictive snacking experience. It makes me glad a single serving size of these Popcorn Chips is 28 chips and not something more restrictive and ridiculous like 10. But let’s not kid ourselves, I could totally go to town on these and eat half the box. What can I say? I like crunchy snacks… especially if the crunching drowns out the umpteenth repetition of some perky bimbo’s invitation to ask my customer service agent for more information on bundling telephone service with HD cable and high-speed internet.
The butter-flavored Special K Popcorn Chips, on the other hand, are actually pretty nasty. Special K… if you’re going to go so far as to create a corn snack reminiscent of POPCORN, you really need to hit the mark with the BUTTER-FLAVORED ones. It’s not rocket science. Just use the fake butter everyone else uses on microwave popcorn. Duh. The disturbingly rank artificial butter flavoring is so strong that it comes off tasting more like fake cheese than butter. And I don’t mean the good fake cheese. This is terrible fake cheese. Like the kind that comes in off-brand, plastic dip cups with stale cracker sticks, which would somehow always be lurking in the office break room at the bottom of the kitchen “snack bowl”… dusty and ignored for what seems like centuries. I’m so glad I didn’t try the Butter Popcorn Chips while on the phone. You’d all have heard about the first-ever long-distance throttling via fiber-optics on the morning news. A real triumph of science. For me, not for the cable company.
The Butter Popcorn Chips don’t look all that differently from the Sweet and Salty ones, but you can actually see the fine dusting of “butter” seasoning on each chip. The inherent popcorn flavor of the Butter Popcorn Chips is overpowered by the funky fake cheese flavoring, so I can’t help but wish that they’d toned it down a bit. I don’t know what kind of butter they were thinking about when they created this variety, but it was probably left out in the sun for a while. It tastes like a foot. The butter’s gone bad.
Special K Popcorn Chips are crunchy and flavorful. It’s just too bad that only one flavor is good. They made a serious error with the Butter Popcorn Chips, but I’m not about to give them a call to complain about it. At least not without the Sweet and Salty Popcorn Chips within snacking distance.
(Nutrition Facts – 28 chips (28g) – Butter – 120 calories, 2 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein. Sweet and Salty – 120 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)
Item: Kellogg’s Special K Popcorn Chips (Butter & Sweet and Salty)
Purchased Price: $2.89
Size: 4.5 ounces
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Butter)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Sweet and Salty)
Pros: “Sweet and Salty” lives up to its name. Nice crisp texture. Decent serving size. Low in fat.
Cons: Butter flavor is extremely artificial-tasting and gross. Foot-flavored snacks. Waiting on hold. Ashton.