REVIEW: Ruffles Mozzarella ‘N Marinara Potato Chips

Ruffles Mozzarella  N Marinara Potato Chips

Ah yes, mozzarella and marinara – the Italian M&M’s.

Actually, in my case, it’s “mutzadel and madanada.” I make no apologies for the way I pronounce these words.

Not to further sound like a stereotype but I’ve probably eaten mozzarella and marinara more than any food in my lifetime. Between pizza, Sunday sauce* dinners, mozz sticks, fresh mozzarella balls, meatball subs, etc. I was practically raised on ’em. If I had my own food pyramid, mozzarella and marinara based foods would have a section and said section would probably be right beside potato chips. (I never said I had the healthiest diet.)

As much as I love all the foods mentioned, I’m not an elitist snob about it. I still enjoy chain pizza, string cheese, or your run of the mill fast food mozzarella stick. For all these reasons, I felt like I would be a great judge for Ruffles’ Mozzarella ‘N Marinara chips.

Ruffles Mozzarella  N Marinara Potato Chips 2

Right out of the gate, these chips nail the smell. I got all the elements I wanted –- tomato sauce, cheesy tanginess, and a bit of onion and garlic. It was a good start.

The taste absolutely delivered on that smell.

There’s a tangy flavor that for a split second that actually reminded me of Cheddar and Sour Cream Ruffles. The cheddar quickly morphed into a milder mozzarella flavor. That flavor is definitely more along the lines of a Polly-O/Sargento/Belgioioso store-bought cheese, but like I said, I like em all. Oh, and cheddar is listed in the ingredients if you’re wondering.

Ruffles Mozzarella  N Marinara Potato Chips 3

The tomato sauce flavor rides the line perfectly. It doesn’t overpower the mozz in any way and actually takes a backseat to what I assume are Italian breadcrumb flavors. Even though these aren’t technically called, “mozzarella stick,” they taste like ’em to me. The Italian style herbs, garlic, onion, and parsley flavors you expect from the fried outer coating are all there.

The aftertaste is distinctly that of a mozzarella stick dipped in a cup of marinara. The flavors are perfect, but if I have one complaint it’s that I could have used even more of it.

I don’t normally want my chips saturated in finger-painting flavor dust, but I could’ve used even more of a coating. This is a very minor nitpick.

While mozzarella sticks are obviously an opposing texture, the ridged Ruffles were the best choice for this flavor. Regular Lay’s style chips would have been too flimsy and greasy. Plus, as a dumb child who choked on mozzarella sticks on numerous occasions, these are much safer to eat!

I’m struggling to find many other complaints. Besides wanting a tad more flavor, I did get a little agita after eating about four servings of these, but you gotta expect a little agita after eating mutzadel and madanada.

These were exactly as advertised for me. Cheddar and Sour Cream are in my pantheon of great chips, and I loved the All Dressed variety, but these might be my new favorite Ruffles.

(Nutrition Facts – about 11 chips – 150 calories 9 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.29
Size: 8.5 oz. bag
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Extra crispy mozzarella sticks. One of the better flavor translations Frito Lay has done. Not as big a choking risk as real mozzarella sticks. Reminds me of all my childhood favorites.
Cons: A little agita. Could probably use more flavor dust. *I don’t wanna hear your crazy “gravy” arguments.

REVIEW: Flamin’ Hot Ruffles Potato Chips

I have to admit I went into this review with a small bias, as “Flamin’ Hot” is a very familiar Frito-Lay flavor for me. I am a big Flamin’ Hot Cheetos fan, being second only to Tapatio Doritos on my spicy chip tier list. What? Don’t tell me you don’t have a spicy chip tier list!

Based on the friendly flame mascot and smoldery font that is identical to the branding from Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, I assumed I was in for standard Ruffles blasted with the same atomic red seasoning.

Upon opening the bag that is exactly what I discovered. My chips were in good shape, with most of them whole. This was a good sign for a delicious, evil experiment I had planned for them.

Ruffles Flamin Hot Potato Chips 3

The chips themselves pack the standard Flamin’ Hot heat (not too over the top, but a little much for spicy wimps). The distribution of dust was a little light for my liking, but I’m a bit of a spice fiend, so most will probably find them quite balanced.

So how does this tried and true seasoning fair on crispy, fried potatoes? Oh my, Chester Cheetah better watch out. The Ruffles are probably on about equal footing with Cheetos as vessels for Flamin’ Hot dust. Things get interesting, however, when you consider the versatility of Ruffles.

Ruffles Flamin Hot Potato Chips 2

The one shortcoming of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos is they’re a bit one-dimensional. It’s a straightforward chili powder type of spice without much variety or depth. However, with their sturdy ridges and wide surface area, Ruffles are tailor-made to combat this problem because you can dip them. Remember that delicious, evil experiment I mentioned earlier?

When I was at the grocery store picking up these bad boys, I realized that many of the tried and true potato chip flavors all had something in common: sour cream. Through all the promotional and crazy flavors Lay’s ships out, I can remember Cheddar & Sour Cream and Sour Cream & Onion even since I was little. Even plain Ruffles beg to be dunked in french onion dip.

Ruffles Flamin Hot Potato Chips 4

Let’s just say I did a dollop of Daisy with these suckers, and the bag quickly grew lighter. The combination felt natural and right. The sour cream cut through the somewhat bland spice to create a cool balance. Maybe Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and sour cream would be just as good, but that just doesn’t sit quite as well in my head. Ruffles have ridges for a reason!

(Nutrition Facts – 11 chips – 150 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 323 milligrams of potassium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 8.5 oz. bag
Purchased at: Albertson’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Classic Flamin’ Hot flavor translates well. A new contender for the top of my spicy chip tier list. Dippability.
Cons: Chips themselves are a bit one dimensional. Getting greasy red smears on my notebook.

REVIEW: Ruffles Cheese Crispy Fries

Ruffles Cheese Crispy Fries

Ah, summer.

A time for ice cream cones, days at the beach, and jealousy for all of us who didn’t take that career path known as “public school educator.”

If you’re anything like me, chances are you’ll be embarking on another rite of the All-American summer again this year. And no, I’m not just talking about attempting to fit a triple-double s’more into your piehole.

It’s the road trip, of course!

Whether to your nearest recreational and beachy abode of choice, or just to your buddy’s cabin at the lake, we’re all entitled to venturing out for a little R&R this time of year. Having graduated from backseat “are we there yet?” queries and being forced to hold in a bladder the size of a nine month pregnant woman (it’s OK, we’ve all been there) because of families’ totalitarian pit stop policies, it’s likely you and I will use the power of discretion by stopping for replenishment on these sojourns.

Junk food is a prerequisite, but logistics are not on your side. Take what the Golden Arches have called “Frydration.” Sure, sustaining your vigilance behind the wheel is all the easier with a container of French fries at your side, but from the moment you pull into the drive-through to that first dip of spud into ketchup, your food clock is ticking.

Too much time in the bag and your steaming, already inconsistent fries turn to soggy mush, while any attempt to postpone your trip for a proper chowdown could leave you fighting rush-hour traffic once you hit the road again. And besides, plain fries can be boring. But throw in finger licking, guilty pleasure toppings like cheese and you’re starting to deal with a seriously gross steering wheel.

Thankfully, Ruffles has come up with a cheesy French fry in potato chip guise, and 7-Elevens across America have been given exclusive license to carry them. 

Granted, Ruffles new Crispy Fries aren’t the first potato chip/fry hybrid on the market, but unlike brands like Snikiddy, Ruffles isn’t giving me any of this “baked” bullshit. Let’s get one thing straight: the only baking I want to do on my summer vacation is on the beach.

Ruffles Cheese Crispy Fries Closeup

As for my road trip munchies, that sacred territory is reserved for fried and chemically engineered flavors that only heavy hitting brands like Ruffles can come up with. And do they ever with these little guys.

The cheese seasoning is applied very liberally to each side of the fries, and aside from an addictive buttermilk and processed cheddar cheese taste, there’s a nice kick of black pepper and garlic powder that conjures up pleasant memories of T.G.I. Friday’s French fries. I was pleasantly surprised by the authentic French fry vibe, right on down to the skin-on ends of a number of the fries.

I like how they have a crunchy nature, although I do find myself missing the fluffy interior that comes with perfectly fried fries. Considering how many fast food places screw that up, though, makes it easier to forgive and forget.

Ruffles Cheese Crispy Fries Innards

As for the insides of Ruffles’ Crispy Fries, they’re interesting; at first I was expecting a hollow interior, but instead the insides are filled with hardened fried potato “stuff.” As you chew the fry, you find that potato “stuff” less like a potato chip and more like, dare I say, reconstituted mashed potatoes. I like it. It works. It shouldn’t, but it does, and it’s surprisingly potato-ey on the backend.

Ruffles Cheese Crispy Fries Back of Bag

I have to admit, these are really good, and it’s not just the hyperbole-laced pep talk from the bag talking (although points for referring to me as “champ”). They’ve got good cheese flavor, a little bit of sweetness, plenty of crunch, and a similar finish to actual fries despite the lack of a fluffy interior.

Ruffles Cheese Crispy Fries Greasy one

I even liked that there were some especially crispy and oily fries, which gave off the whole horrible-for-you but oh-so-tasty vibe you get from fast food. If you’re a fan of anything crunchy and cheesy, these are definitely something worth making a detour for during bathroom break stops when you hit the open road this summer.
 

(Nutrition Facts – 1 bag – 230 calories, 140 calories from fat, 15 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 0 gram of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 430 milligrams of potassium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Other Ruffles Crispy Fries reviews:
Food Junk (Original)

Item: Ruffles Cheese Crispy Fries
Purchased Price: $1.09
Size: 1.4 oz. bag
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Crispy potato chip texture in French fry guise. Good cheese fry flavor. Surprisingly strong potato taste. Tasty black pepper kick. Mashed potato vibe. Not as messy as actual cheese fries. Being called a “champ.” Not having to be subjected to my father’s totalitarian car rules and bathroom stop criteria any longer.
Cons: Lacks the fluffy interior of perfectly fried French fries. Only available in small bags at 7-Eleven for a limited time. Road trip traffic to get to the beach.

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.