REVIEW: Ruffles Ultimate Sweet & Smokin’ BBQ

Ruffles Ultimate Sweet & Smokin' BBQ

I don’t like starting this review with a dictionary definition, like a fourth grader begins his or her science presentation, but here I go.

According to the dictionary, the word “ultimate” means “being the best or most extreme example of its kind,” and I believe that was the definition Frito-Lay wanted associated with their new Ruffles Ultimate Potato Chips, which are thicker and have deeper ridges than regular Ruffles.

I’m no potato chip maker, heck I don’t even own a deep fryer, but I’m pretty sure Frito-Lay could’ve made these Ruffles Ultimate potato chips even more extreme.

Are these ridges really “the ultimate”? I’ve seen deeper ridges in light wavelength diagrams and Zen garden sand. Also, are the thickness of these chips really the thickest Frito-Lay could’ve gone? I don’t think so. They should’ve been so thick and crunchy that chewing on them with your mouth open creates booming sound waves that have ridges as deep as the chips themselves.

Ruffles Ultimate comes in two apostrophed flavors: Kickin’ Jalapeno Ranch and Sweet & Smokin’ BBQ.

Ruffles Ultimate Sweet & Smokin’ BBQ is made using three ingredients: potatoes, vegetable oil, and something called Sweet Smokin’ BBQ seasoning, which consists of about 20 ingredients. Those ingredients includes sugar, brown sugar, chipotle chili pepper, molasses, onion powder, tomato powder, paprika extracts, garlic powder, and honey.

Ruffles Ultimate Sweet & Smokin' BBQ Closeup

Ruffles Ultimate Sweet & Smokin’ BBQ smell like Lay’s barbecue potato chips, and the two chips also kind of taste alike. However, these Ruffles Ultimate chips have a little heat and smokiness to them, thanks to the chipotle. The spiciness isn’t noticeable at first, but your mouth will begin to feel it after the second or third chip. They have less heat than the Doritos Jacked Smoky Chipotle BBQ, so having your Brita pitcher at the ready is unnecessary. The chips are also a little sweet, thanks to the sugar, brown sugar, molasses, and honey, but they’re more spicy than sweet.

Ultimately, the Ruffles Ultimate Sweet & Smokin’ BBQ potato chips are a tasty, crunchy snack, but they don’t rock my snacking socks off. Its flavor is too similar to other barbecue Frito-Lay chips and, while the ridges are bigger, you’re getting an ounce less of chips per bag than the 9-9.5 ounce bags of regular Ruffles at about the same price. So I don’t consider these chips to be the ultimate, instead I think they’re unremarkable.

(Disclosure: I received this bag of Ruffles Ultimate Sweet & Smokin’ BBQ for free from Frito-Lay. I also received a bag of the other flavor, but that was already reviewed by another reviewer, who paid for it. I also received a jar of Ruffles Ultimate Smokehouse Bacon dip for free, but I’m probably not going to review that. I also received a rash from something, but I don’t know from what.)

(Nutrition Facts – 1 ounce – 160 calories, 90 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 330 milligrams of potassium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Ruffles Ultimate Sweet & Smokin’ BBQ
Price: FREE
Size: 8 ounces
Purchased at: Received from Frito-Lay
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Tasty. Crunchy. Slight smoky heat from chipotle. Light sweetness. Not called Ruffles Extreme.
Cons: Unremarkable. Tastes too similar to other Frito-Lay chips. Ridges and thickness weren’t as ultimate as they could’ve gone. Chewing with your mouth open. Beginning a review with a dictionary definition.

REVIEW: Beer Battered Onion Rings Ruffles

Beer Battered Onion Rings Ruffles

So you’re hosting a fall harvest barbecue with a backwoods gourmet theme heavily influence by your lack of funds and the fact that you ran over a wild animal on your way home from work last night. Frankly, this sounds a bit questionable, but lord knows, I’ve got no room to judge.

Anyway, the meal is shaping up to be a disaster (big shock there). With your first guests set to shuffle over from their neighboring trailers in about fifteen minutes, your found opossum entree still isn’t done (at least, it doesn’t look done – but I’m no opossum roasting expert) and your multi-layer Jell-O jiggler hors d’oeuvres aren’t setting nearly as fast as you’d hoped. You don’t have nearly enough time left to whip up your beloved cheese puff casserole! Whatever will you do for a side dish?

Well, lucky for you, you’ve got me, and a local Walmart. Simply send a significant other/friend/child out for some limited edition Beer Battered Onion Rings Ruffles and you’ll already be halfway to neighborhood acclaim. Seeing as you’ve prepared no other sides, I’d recommend, oh, roughly 1/3 bag per person.

“But Nichol,” I assume you’re asking, “I can’t just serve them bagged. That’s not gourmet! And the only bowl I have big enough for the five bags of chips you estimate I’ll need has snowmen and dancing Santas all over it!”

Holy crap! Chill out! I’ve got you covered. Quit interrupting.

Do you have construction paper? No? Well, quick – call the person you sent out for chips and have them pick some up. I’ll wait.

Okay? Okay. Now, what you want to do next is come up with an appropriate replacement theme for the bowl. You’ve already got the Fall thing going, so let’s work with that. Now’s the time to get creative. I recommend covering Frosty and St. Nick’s faces with lots and lots of paper leaves. If, however, you wish to take things a bit further, maybe shift forward a few weeks with your décor, you could also craft zombie parts for the Santas, so that they appear to be hunting down the poor snowmen, or vice versa.

In either case, that’s not a problem you’ve got on your hands so much as a fantastic crafting opportunity.

“But what about the chips themselves?” You now say because you’re just horribly whiny and out of sorts today. “What makes them classy? And shouldn’t I opt for more of a variety?”

First off, no. Just these. Don’t confuse your guests with five thousand similar looking lesser chip varieties. They deserve better.

Second, these chips happen to be a limited edition, fan-chosen, Walmart exclusive. If that’s not enough for your crowd of snobbish rednecks, tell them this: Beer Battered Onion Rings Ruffles are a one-of-a-kind treat, occupying a blurry middle ground somewhere between Funyuns and their comparatively mundane Sour Cream and Onion Ruffles cousins.

Beer Battered Onion Rings Ruffles Closeup

They are the mellow, potato chip equivalent to French’s French Fried Onions, by which I mean the oniony notes are vivid, sweet, and unmistakably Vidalia-like, and the chips taste very much deep fried in some batter you won’t recognize but will wish you could replicate. They offer just a hint of completely unnecessary brown sugar (which I assume is supposed to lend a caramelized taste) and subtle buttermilk undertones. The coating is light, sidestepping both the weird film Funyuns leave behind in one’s mouth and the heaviness one feels by one’s second or third handful of sour cream and onion chips.

The flavor pairs wonderfully with a nice peppery Saison. What? I lost you all there? Fine. These chips pair decently with any cheap beer devoid of fruity elements, wheat, and most other adjectives. Is that what you want to hear? Honestly, why do I even try with you?

Basically, if your guests enjoy onion rings, they will enjoy these chips. And if they are the kind of crowd that enjoys opossum, I’m just going to stereotypically assume they’re onion ring fans. Or at least fans of fried things, which is close enough.

Oh, and I should probably mention that the layers of flavor flatten out to nothing but semi-fake onion as you keep shoveling the Beer Battered Onion Rings Ruffles into your gullet. Make sure to periodically offer up more beer and opossum parts to avoid potential party-killing monotony.

Good Luck!

(Nutrition Facts – 1 ounce/ about 11 chips- 160 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 2.5 grams polyunsaturated fat, 5 grams monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 200 milligrams of potassium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, 2 grams of protein, 0% vitamin A, 0% calcium, 8% Vitamin B6, 10% vitamin C, 4% thiamin, 2% phosphorous, 4% magnesium, and 2% iron.)

Item: Beer Battered Onion Rings Ruffles
Price: $2.98 (on sale)
Size: 9 ounces
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: No Funyuns film. DIY re-holiday-ification. Buttermilk. Jell-O hors d’oeuvres. Vidalia sweetness. Good addition to the existing faux-fried onion flavor family. Zombie Santas.
Cons: Found opossum entrees. Attempt at caramelized flavor lends a weird barbeque-like edge. Jell-O refusing to cooperate. Descends into an oniony borefest after a few minutes.