I don’t know why I can’t put down this bag of Monterey Jack & Garden Tomato SunChips. It’s as if my body is telling itself that it’s starving for whole grains, which it totally is, thanks to my diet of everything I eat for this site.
It’s puzzling to me because it’s not as if these chips have a flavor that explodes in my mouth like the gasses in the sun. Yeah, I taste the cheese and tomato, but the seasoning doesn’t pound my taste buds like I’m scraping off the toppings of a cheese pizza with my front teeth. Even after eating almost half the bag, my fingers aren’t even close to being coated in seasoning like they would be if I ate Cheetos, Doritos, or anything labeled Flamin’ Hot.
Basically, if SunChips decided to make a “pizza” flavor, this would be it. But calling it “pizza flavor” probably wouldn’t mesh with SunChips’ healthy whole grain push. Maybe its pizza-like flavor is why I can’t stop shoving my hand into the bag because I love pizza-flavored things that aren’t actual pizza, like pizza-flavored Pringles.
Right now, I’m dangerously close to finishing this bag in one sitting because I’ve started pulling out the small broken chips that settled to the bottom. That also means I’ve probably consumed a meal’s worth of SunChips. Thank goodness this has 30% less fat than potato chips. So eating the whole bag is like eating an entire pint of Halo Top, where it’s okay to eat all of it in one sitting, right?
(Looks at the bag, does math). Nope. Not like Halo Top.
Well, at least I’ll get 133 grams of whole grain.
Purchased Price: $4.99 Size: 7 oz bag Purchased at: Times Supermarket Rating: 8 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (about 14 chips/28 grams) 140 calories, 6 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 140 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar (including 2 grams of added sugar), and 2 grams of protein.
Pringles, beware! The tennis ball manufacturer that cut a deal with you years ago is opening up its doors and Frito-Lay is coming in hot. Flamin’ Hot. It has shrunk several of its popular snacks to bite-size form, encased them in tubes, and the results are…mixed.
Nacho Cheese Doritos
I started with the classic Nacho Cheese Doritos and had high hopes because it’s hard to go wrong with this chip. I think some of the impetus behind this mini concept is the serving size and cuteness factor. People love Goldfish crackers and you can have 55 of them per serving. Wouldn’t it also be nice to have 55 tiny Doritos? It might be, if you could eat them that way. The serving here is 39 little chips, and this tube was a disaster. The contents looked like I’d just dumped out the remnants from a larger bag. There were some intact chips, but the majority had been broken to crumbs. Instead of being a new or adorable way to consume chips, I was left eating handfuls of shards or pouring them into my mouth from the tube.
Rating: 5 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (39 chips) 150 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of total sugars, and 2 grams of protein.
Cool Ranch Doritos
My Cool Ranch canister fared better. They weren’t all shattered from the start. After tasting some individually and also by the handful, I still found these underwhelming. It didn’t seem like they had enough of the seasoning applied to them. The label claims they have the “same BOLD flavor,” but I found them blander than a standard bag. I had this problem with the Nacho Cheese variety too, but it was overshadowed by the other flaws. So far, I’m not sure I understand this product line.
Rating: 7 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (39 chips) 150 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of total sugars, and 2 grams of protein.
Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips
Here to confuse things more, are Sun Chips! These come in Harvest Cheddar or Garden Salsa. I like Sun Chips; they’re a welcome addition to the variety packs of lunch-size bags but will never be my first choice for a full-size option. I chose Harvest Cheddar and wondered how Garden Salsa also managed to sneak into the lineup. These mini chips have held their square shape better than the Doritos, although there are quite a few broken ones. They also seem appropriately seasoned and have come the closest so far to true miniatures of their inspiration chip. I think they’re a success, but do we need stamp-sized versions of two chips we only occasionally reach for to begin with?
Rating: 7 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (29 chips) 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 2 grams of total sugars, and 2 grams of protein.
Cheddar and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos
Things start to make more (or less?) sense when it comes to the Cheetos. Both Cheddar and Flamin’ Hot are cheese balls and aren’t masquerading as tiny regular Cheetos. On the one hand, a bunch of teeny Cheetos would have been cool, and I imagine they would have looked like a tube of Long John Silver’s crumblies. These two are the best tasting of the bunch though, so they’ve gotten something right there.
They have a thicker and very satisfying outside crunch that yields to a Cheeto-like interior. More regular Cheeto than puff, they get the texture right without being too airy or weird. There are 63 balls per serving and they fall somewhere between a normal cheese ball and a cocoa puff cereal size-wise. Looking at a bowl of these Flamin’ Hot ones, I can’t help but wonder if they should have put them in a box instead of a cylinder and called them cereal, à la Cinnafuego Toast Crunch. I won’t be surprised if this happens in three months.
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Cheddar), 9 out of 10 (Flamin’ Hot) Nutrition Facts: (63 pieces) Flamin’ Hot – 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 260 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 0 grams of total sugars, and 1 gram of protein. Cheddar – 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 330 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 1 gram of total sugars, and 2 grams of protein.
Overall this mini lineup is a mixed bag, or should I say can. There isn’t anything necessarily wrong with them, but there isn’t anything that makes me want to buy them again either.
Purchased Price: $2.79 each Size: 1 can Purchased at: Mariano’s
Did you know SunChips are 30 years old? Did you know it’s supposed to be spelled “SunChips” and not “Sun Chips?” Did you even know they’re still around?
Perhaps to celebrate its birthday, the Frito-Lay brand has rolled out Chile Lime SunChips. Because let’s face it, a birthday cake flavor would be a horrible idea.
According to the packaging, the 100% whole grain snack feature a combination of red chili pepper and lime flavors. A dive into the ingredients list shows the chips are seasoned with chili powder, buttermilk, garlic powder, spices (including chili pepper), onion powder, natural flavors, paprika, vinegar, and lime juice.
While they have all those ingredients, they taste like they’re seasoned with just chili powder and lime but leaning more towards the former. I’m not complaining that the chips aren’t as complex as the ingredients list makes them seem because they are enjoyable. Although, I have to admit there’s a bit of a celery-like aftertaste at times.
All the flames on the bag might be a subtle hint that these are spicy. They are, and it takes a few chips before the heat is really noticeable, but think of these being at 1/4 or 1/3 of how spicy Flamin’ Hot products are.
Speaking of which, why hasn’t Frito-Lay offered Flamin’ Hot SunChips in their own bag? It’s available as part of a spicy Frito-Lay Munchies Snack Mix that also comes with Doritos, Cheetos, and Rold Gold pretzels, but not in a standalone offering.
If you didn’t know SunChips are still around, this Chili Lime flavor would be a tasty way to reintroduce yourself to them. If you do pick it up, or whatever variety you choose, remember to wish it a Happy Birthday.
DISCLOSURE: I received a free product sample. Doing so did not influence my review.
Purchased Price: FREE Size: 7 oz bag Purchased at: Received from Frito-Lay Rating: 7 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (about 14 chips/28 g) 140 calories, 6 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, 2 grams of added sugar, and 2 grams of protein.
This is the first non-chip form for Sun Chips. When I originally saw the images on the bag, I thought they were churros-shaped, but they are not. Instead, they look like large pillowy cereal pieces that could help you consume 100 percent of your daily fiber.
The four kinds of cheese that flavor the snack are: Monterey jack, cheddar, gouda, and mozzarella.
How are they?
I like Sun Chips, but if you gave me the option between them and a bag of potato chips, I’d take the fried spud slices and leave the Sun Chips 10 out of 10 times. But if bags of Sun Puffs Four Cheese and Cheetos were in front of me, I’d grab the Cheetos, but then also snag the Sun Puffs, because I’m greedy and they are sun-prisingly wonderful.
With the combination of cheeses, they have a slightly funky aroma and a mature tangy flavor that mostly hides the fact I’m eating a whole grain snack. Although, the cheesiness eventually fades and there’s a whole grain aftertaste. Think of these as tasting like a Triscuit with some decent cheese. They don’t quite reach Cheetos-level of snackability, but I still dig them.
Is there anything else I need to know?
While they’re made with 100 percent whole grain and look like a cereal that’ll give you 100 percent of your daily intake of fiber, a serving provides only seven percent of your daily fiber. Yes, you could eat the entire bag and get about 40 percent, which is plausible because they’re hard to stop eating.
Also, regarding the whole grains, if you don’t like how regular Sun Chips feel in your mouth as you break them down with your teeth, then expect these to give you that same feeling. You know, the graininess that reminds you that Sun Chips are not Tostitos or regular potato chips.
Frito-Lay, who also makes Cheetos, also makes Sun Puffs. So if there’s anyone who knows how to create addictive cheese-flavored crunchy puffs, it’s Frito-Lay. And it did a great job with these. Now, although I realize these don’t look like churros, I’d love to have a cinnamon sugar version.
Purchased Price: $4.39 Size: 6 oz. bag Purchased at: Longs Drugs Rating: 8 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (about 15 puffs) 150 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 180 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.
It’s fair to say I’m not the healthiest eater, a regrettable side effect of unrelenting stubbornness meeting finicky taste buds. As a result, I’m even more desperate than most people for reasonably healthy food that actually tastes good. And man cannot live on Pirate’s Booty alone, so when SunChips’ new Sweet & Spicy BBQ flavor hit grocery store shelves, I was all over that like, well, me on frozen yogurt.
The front of the bag really tries to sell you on the complexity of the tastes you’ll soon be mouthfeeling, showing the chips leaning against a dipping bowl of barbecue sauce, alongside chili peppers and that weird utensil that seems to be used exclusively to drip honey. (Or “hunny,” if you’re a silly ol’ bear.) It’s an intriguing montage that creates the expectation of a great pairing, like brownies and ice cream or Spider-Man and Optimus Prime.
In keeping with the health-conscious branding of SunChips, the label reminds you that they’re multigrain and a stamp emphasizes the all-natural ingredients and lack of MSG, preservatives, and artificial flavors. No complaints from me — their marketing strategy has always revolved around being healthier than the competition (30% less fat than regular potato chips, apparently), and you’ve gotta dance with the one who brought you.
The back further expands on the flavor explosion you’re apparently about to experience. It promises “a bold and unforgettable taste” that will “start the sweetest, sauciest fire in your mouth,” which hopefully is an exaggeration because hey, SunChips… flattered, even curious, but married. It also encourages you to check out their Facebook page, being updated by some eager, unpaid intern even as we speak. Yes, this is why you went to Brown for four years, Sarah. Working your way up!
But enough talk! Let’s talk about the actual chips themselves. Opening the bag releases a pleasing smell, like a somewhat muted aroma of barbecued ribs or chicken. It’s enjoyable without being overpowering, even if you stick your nose in the bag, although why would you do that unless you’re a weirdo food reviewer? In terms of appearance, you’ve seen SunChips before; these look identical except for a slightly darker, more orange shade than the plain variety. Given their focus on all natural ingredients, I’m assuming that is genuinely due to the barbecue coating, not just food coloring to differentiate them in your mental food rolodex.
With respect to texture, they’re definitely crunchy — if you’ve never had a SunChip of any kind before, basically they feel just like any regular potato chip, possibly even slightly crunchier. But ultimately that doesn’t matter a whit if they taste terrible, now does it? Well, the good news is, they don’t taste terrible; in fact, they’re pretty darn good. The sweetness comes through loud and clear, more like molasses than super sugary, although it doesn’t linger for long. Still, I have a hard time imagining many people disliking the taste, even if it doesn’t absolutely blow you away.
However, I do have a bone to pick, which is simply this: I have tasted spicy before. I know from spicy. And this, my friends, is not spicy. Remember that business about the bold and unforgettable taste? I can’t give it the response it deserves, but suffice to say in gentleman’s terms, that’s a crock of horseshit.
This is as edgy and in-your-face as men piercing their ears nowadays: it still might slightly intimidate young kids, but nobody else is going to be impressed. (And yes, I had three piercings in college. Swimmers are pretty hardcore, you know.) The heat is conspicuously absent, and while I’m not looking to scorch my lips off, the word “spicy” evokes certain expectations that are simply not met. Compared to the sweetness, the spice is like unto a phantom flavor, evident in some pale shade but so insubstantial as to make you question your senses. And that’s the last time I read M. R. James before writing a review.
(Full disclosure: while the upper chips in the bag were almost entirely devoid of heat, around the halfway mark there started to be a tiny bit, presumably due to the spices settling downward. Still not much, but it at least approaches the heat of a typical “mild” flavor.)
Even without more spice, this is still a good flavor that I have no trouble recommending; it’s just that it could have been even better if the spice were commensurate with the sweetness. I don’t know if that would have made them less healthy or if artificial flavors are needed to really crank it up to 11, but it’s a missed opportunity. Even so, try not to let these slip away without giving them a shot; they might not knock your socks off, but they are good.
(Nutrition Facts — 1 oz (28g/about 15 chips) — 140 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6 grams of total fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1 gram of polyunsaturated fat, 3.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 135 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugars, and 2 grams of protein.)
Other Sun Chips Sweet & Spicy BBQ Flavored Chips reviews: Chip Review
Item: SunChips Sweet & Spicy BBQ Flavored Multigrain Snacks Purchased Price: $3.99 Size: 10.5 oz. bag Purchased at: Giant Rating: 7 out of 10 Pros: If you’re going to eat chips, these are among the least ass-fattening. Barbeque smell. Good texture. Effective degree of sweetness without being overly sugary. Spider-Man and Optimus Prime: great team-up, or the greatest team-up? Cons: An Ivy League English degree is still useless. Misleading ad copy. As much heat as Hayden Christensen/Natalie Portman. Letting someone see you sticking your nose in a bag of chips.