World Premiere Review!
During this time of the Coronavirus pandemic when audio shows around the world have been cancelled and product review samples are hard to come by, I'd like to take this opportunity to share a review of my epicurean road food. Those familiar with my audio show reports are well aware of my disdain for public transport, preferring to travel in my humble Hotel Tracker SUV or simply hoof it for shorter distances such as mountain ascents. Given the arduous drives that endure extremes of winter weather or long distances that terminate at Interstate rest areas, I've come, over the decades, to appreciate the importance of fine road food in not only nourishing the body, but providing the mindfulness to keep the Tracker on the road.
Items like dark chocolate and spicy gumdrops from my local Stever's candy shop, hot Cajun trail mix from the bulk food aisle at my Wegman's grocery store, or the subject of this review imported from the Eastern Shore and the area around Baltimore. Perhaps you've discovered a theme in my preferences. Surely, there are other tasty esoteric flavors of potato chips, but for those on the Right Coast who are in the know, like Porsche, there is no substitute.
Ordinary potato chips don't make the grade any more than white van loudspeakers. They're both bland, thin and crumble when tossed around in the Tracker. Sure, some of them, like kettle chips, are more rugged, and some chips are infused with the bite of vinegar, but hey, if you can spend thousands on speakers and amplifiers, what's a little extra money for the delicacy of crab flavored chips? Besides, when you're on the road crab chips are a lot easier to deal with than the crabs themselves.
All the hammering and picking the meat out of the shells, not to mention the effort of sucking meat out of their skinny legs, can lead to distracted driving…which can put a big dent in your audiophile budget, not to mention your vehicle. And then there's the issue of putting your smelly wet fingers all over the steering wheel. Trust me, go with the crab chips.
Crab chips come in what I call mid-size bags about 7" x 9" (18 x 23 cm) that not only promotes their exclusivity, but discourages others from coming up and asking you to share them. The bag also sits nicely on the console between the seat and the parking brake lever, if you still have one. The top seam of the bag, when fully opened allows for easy selection of a chip or two at a time. You really don't want more than that as crab chips are most thoroughly enjoyed when savored over distances of a hundred miles (62.5 km) or more. Spacing consumption out thusly keeps the crab seasoning from burning out the taste buds on your tongue. Another word of caution is to not carry them throughout the show in your backpack. Trying to squeeze into a crowded room could lead to their being crushed, which in turn could tip you into anger or depression, neither of which is appropriate in such a setting.
The Utz "The Crab Chip" bag ($1.89) weighs in at 2.875oz. (81.5g) and is gluten free. The Market Place by Royal Farms (a convenience store chair in mid-Atlantic states) Premium Potato Chips with Chesapeake Bay Crab Seasoning (similarly priced) weighs in at 2.75oz. (78g). The Utz Kettle Classics Chesapeake Bay Crab Chips ($1.89) weighs in at 2.625oz. (74.4g) are also gluten free, but made with Peanut Oil, so beware if you have a peanut allergy. Recommended serving size is 1oz, but don't worry about that. You will want to eat the entire bag yourself. Rideshares should be advised to bring their own.
Bowl #1: The chips in this bowl were thin, lightly colored and had only a mild crab flavor. This was clearly an entry level chip that would not withstand many miles of travel and would easily be deconstructed into crumbs with all but gentle handling on the road. It was moderately salty, moderately spicy and hence tasted only moderately fresh. The bottom line here was that it was only slightly more crabby than regular potato chips.
Bowl #2: This chip made a very discernable crunch when crushed into the roof of my mouth with my tongue which was very satisfying. There was plenty of salt, which is to say ‘just right' and it had a very spicy crab flavor with a strong hint of vinegar added, though no mention of vinegar appeared in the content labeling. The greater crunch and spicier taste let me to believe this chip was fresher than the first one.
Bowl #3: Lastly, this chip had serious crunch giving it an unmistakable kettle fried texture. It was also coated with plenty of salt which again, was ‘just right'. The level of crab spice was also strong, about like Bowl #2, but without any hint of vinegar, leaving it with a pure Old Bay seasoning flavor. Here again, the strong flavoring combined with the robust crunch gave this chip a very palpable sense of freshness.
For those who might like to try crab chips but do not live in a preferred area of distribution, might I suggest you go the DIY route and obtain some Old Bay seasoning. Shake it on your personal favorite chip, preferably not as you drive. This hack will get you close, but there really is no substitute for the two winners here. I was so impressed I bought the review samples.
Utz "The Crab Chip Market Place by Royal Farms Utz Kettle Classic
Calories/serving 150 150 150
Calories/bag 440 410 390
Total Fat/bag 27g/35% 25g/32% 23g/29%
Cholesterol 0g 0g 0g
Sodium/bag 860mg/37% 1240mg/54% 1120mg/49%
Total Carbs/bag 43g/16% 43g/16% 41g/15%
Total Sugar/bag 1g 0g 1g
Protein/bag 6g 5g 5g
Iron/bag 2mg/10% 2mg/10% 1.5mg/8%
Potassium/bag 1073mg/25% 897mg/20% 990mg/20%
Vitamin C/bag na 16mg/20% na