I’ve no idea how it actually works, but I like to imagine that at every major chip company, the marketing and R&D people have a big meeting every six months or so. They BS a little, remind everyone which varieties have been introduced and retired lately, and then the important work begins: brainstorming for the next six months.
This has to have gotten harder over time, which accounts for the increasingly unconventional chip varieties we’ve seen in recent years. And while I’m sure Ruffles isn’t the first company to release a steak-flavored potato chip, they’re probably the first to instill each chip with the MAX amount of steak flavor possible, right?
It’s not hard to follow the train of logic of whomever came up with the idea of steak-flavored chips. Beef and potatoes have a long, proud tradition of pairing together, and while chips usually slum with hamburger while steak paints the town red with a baked potato, you can’t fault them for aiming higher.
The packaging makes it clear this isn’t some cafeteria mystery meat, showing a really good-looking steak cut into strips. It can’t be a shade over medium-rare, which is interesting; I’m surprised they let it appear so bloody. Nonetheless, it looks damn tasty, and the logo promises not just steak flavor, but flame grilled steak flavor. Seriously, they are going to kick your mouth in the balls. Or the lady balls.
Speaking of which, the back of the bag tells you exactly what demographic they’re targeting. Hint: it does not suggest which wine cooler to pair with these chips. Seriously, there are words about MEAT! and cavemen and “clubbing something” (direct quote) and it’s all very Freudian. The blurb blatantly suggests pairing the chips with Pepsi Max, which… nice try, Ruffles, but I’m pretty sure they still make Coke Zero, so go screw yourself. I also don’t drink PBR when Sam Adams is available, in case you were wondering.
Still, the irony is not lost on me that Pepsi Max is all about having zero calories, whereas steak-flavored potato chips are most likely to be purchased by those who couldn’t give less of a shit how many calories they’re consuming. I look forward to someday buying a gallon of ice cream with an ad for Gold’s Gym on the back.
When you open the bag, the first thing you’ll notice is the smell. That is also the second, third, and fourth things you’ll notice, because holy cow is it powerful. Opinions vary — I found it strong and mildly off-putting, whereas my wife swore it to be the grim harbinger of a fetid, moldering grave. Either way, it isn’t good. It actually does smell a bit like grilled steak, but very artificially so, like a robot that looks juuust enough like a human to be creepy.
The smell dissipates some over time, but you’ll still notice it, even if you come back after a week’s vacation and reopen the bag. As for the chips themselves, they look like regular Ruffles except a little darker and splotchier. Bizarro Ruffles, if you will.
Taste-wise… boy, it’s hard to describe. They’re unmistakably Ruffles, from the crunch and wildly varying sizes to the ridged texture. They’re as salty as regular Ruffles, though they also have pepper like any good steak, which does enhance the flavor. And darned if they don’t taste a little like steak — within reason, and that’s a key distinction. If you actually thought these were going to taste like someone lopped off a cow’s tuchus and deep fried it, you are going to be disappointed. If you expected a chip with a little smoky flavor, pepper, and something that kind of approximates the juice in a steak despite not having any juice whatsoever, you’re in luck.
Not for nothing, but I anticipate these being a highly divisive product: either you’ll think they’re pretty okay, or you’ll hate them. I fall into the former camp — wouldn’t want to get ’em every week, but as a one-off experiment, I’m glad I tried them. My wife was far less enthusiastic and can’t walk past the pantry without narrowed eyes and involuntary hissing.
If you decide to buy a bag, make sure you have a friend or spouse or roommate to share them with, just in case. And ladies, the back of the package leads me to believe you will need to have a male present to buy a bag, so take that into account. Nothing’s worse than getting busted for illicit purchase of Man Chips.
(Nutrition Facts – 28 grams/~11 chips – 160 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of total fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 320 milligrams of potassium, 15 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of sugars, 2 grams of protein.)
Other Ruffles MAX Flame Grilled Steak Flavored Potato Chips reviews:
Junk Food Guy
Item: Ruffles MAX Flame Grilled Steak Flavored Potato Chips
Purchased Price: $4.29
Size: 8.5 oz bag
Purchased at: Wegman’s
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Hard to go wrong pairing potatoes with meat. Coke Zero. Same great Ruffles texture and crunch. Good pepper distribution. The smell will not actually make you vomit.
Cons: Smell is crazy strong and mildly to extremely unpleasant. Pepsi Max. Exclusionary ad copy. Chips just look kind of dirty. Taste isn’t really good enough to put up with the smell for long.