Pros: * Healthier for you than potato chips
* Satisfyingly crunchy snack
Cons: * Less pronounced salt and vinegar flavor
I love Salt and Vinegar chips, and specifically love the crunchy kettle chips made by the Kettle Company. That bright blue bag holds one of the most tantalizing snacks in the world (for me). Yet at 150 calories for 1 oz/13 chips (80 calories of which are FAT), I don't allow myself to regularly indulge. Lo and behold, my husband recently discovered Popchips, a healthy alternative that isn't fried or baked--it's POPPED! While some of the other flavors are very satisfying, I find their Salt and Vinegar variety just doesn't have the tanginess and saltiness I have come to expect. More details below.
About the Chips
First off, let me reiterate that these "chips" are actually popped. The Popchips website explains, "We take the finest all-natural ingredients, add a little heat and pressure, and pop! It's a chip."
Unlike traditional crackers (which are made with wheat and not potatoes anyway), Popchips still have a lightness to them so I think it's fair to say that they're still chips. Yet unlike conventional potato chips, they've got a slightly different texture. These are round chips with a bit of a puff to them. It's just enough to feel crunchy but not so much that it feels airy like those Asian shrimp chips that are also puffy but less dense.. The Popchips also remind me of a lighter version of an Indian papadum, which is a chaat (snack) that is a thin wafer/cracker made of bean/rice flour but I believe they're almost always fried.
At 120 calories for 1 oz/20 chips (only 35 calories of which are fat), Popchips are much healthier. At only 6% fat compared to 14% in the Kettle Chips, these Popchips are indisputably better for you when it comes to reducing the amount of fat in your diet. Ironically, there is much more sodium in the Popchips' version of Salt and Vinegar chips than Kettle Chips--290 mg compared to 190 in the Kettle Chips. Yet for some reason, I find the saltiness is not as pronounced in the Popchips.
The Popchips website also explains that since so little oil is used, an unopened bag of Popchips will stay fresh for up to 12 months! However, there are no preservatives,so once it's open you should finish them up soon. A bag of barbecue flavor Popchips (which my husband loves) don't last a week in our house, so we have yet to time how long it takes for an open bag to become stale.
We bought our bags from our neighborhood Lucky's grocery store (a West Coast chain) and had never seen them before. I don't recall the actual cost of the bag but imagine it should be fairly comparable to other brands.
As I explained above, I love Salt and Vinegar chips and have come to love Kettle Chips' version. I think they must use a heavy hand when it comes to the vinegar, as the Popchips version is too mild for me. As I said earlier, I find it surprising that Kettle Chips use less salt, as I thought the Popchips weren't salty enough.
I like eating these to add some texture when eating softer foods like a sandwich. When eating them alone, the flavors of the Salt and Vinegar variety just aren't bold enough for me. My 3 year old daughter, on the other hand, would keep eating these if I allowed her. I try to dole them out one at a time to her and limit her to about 3 -5 chips per sitting. They are considerably stronger in flavor than most of the food she eats (e.g., rice/noodles/bread, chicken/pork, cheese/yogurt, corn/carrots/broccoli, and fruit) so I'm not surprised she loves them. This is the unhealthiest thing we allow her to eat, and it's still somewhat healthy so I don't feel too guilty. Moreover, upon reflection, I think she'd probably cringe if I let her have some of Kettle Chips' Salt and Vinegar variety as they are probably too strongly flavored for her.
I will say that the Barbecue version is quite good, but I'm normally not a fan of barbecue so my expectations were fairly low. My husband loves the Barbecue variety so much he's been stocking up on multiple bags in the pantry. Suffice to say, Popchips has at least 2 loyal fans in our household already. I still have a bag of the Parmesan Garlic Popchips to try, so that may convince me yet. In the meantime, I occasionally snarf some barbecue pop chips when the mood strikes me.
At the end of the day, i will still recommend these as they are a tangy and savory snack that's pretty healthy. I can't think of another satisfying crunchy snack that can match Popchips' health statistics. Yes, there are healthier options, but they often sacrifice the texture and taste to achieve those nutritional statistics. Bottom line: these are much better tasting than the Quaker rice cakes.
Natural potato ingredients (potato flour, potato starch), Safflower oil and/or sunflower oil, Seasoning (Maltodextrin, sea salt, vinegar, evaporated cane juice, rice flour, tartaric acid, lactic acid, dried potatoes, autolyzed yeast extract, citric acid, canola oil, safflower oil, natural flavor), rice flour, salt, soy lecithin (processing aid)
Made on equipment shared with wheat.