Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tim’s Cascade Snacks Jalapeño Seasoned

            Today I’m breaking into the second bag of chips sent to me from the United States, and also the new up-and-coming genre of Jalapeño flavored potato chips.  To be honest, we are a bit past up and coming: like superhero movies starting circa 2008, they came and they’re here to stay.
            Who can’t help but be fond of the jalapeño, the noble workman of spicy peppers?  I will tell you who, people who don’t like spicy food.  Fortunately, I am not among their number!  Really they are splendidly versatile, and can be easily deseeded to ramp-back on the heat if necessary.  Americans by now have been exposed to enough of them in Mexican restaurants that they were ready to hit it off mainstream by the turn of the century.
            This is the second bag of Tim’s Cascade Style chips I’ve tried, and it absolutely shows its common pedigree in regard to the crisps, which are crunchy kettle-style chips that should please anyone looking for a complex texture, but which suffer a little for their fairly small size.  The flavoring is evenly applied across the chips in adequate quantitites, though it doesn’t obscure the natural russet brown coloration of the chips.
You always tell yourself you know
better than to eat the slices by them
self.  Then you do it anyway.
            I must say that the jalapeño seasoning on these chips was the most authentically jalapeño-like spices I’ve had on chips.  Have you ever had one of those moments contemplating a large slice of jalapeño pepper on your dish, knowing it’s a bad idea to bite into it, but then succumbing to some combination of foolishness, hunger, and masochism?  After the first bite, you tell yourself, that’s not so bad!, and then you suddenly feel this ominous flavor in your mouth, the foretaste of your own doom.  As any auteur of the sinister knows, it is not the fires of hell, but the dire portent that they will soon arrive that is the ultimate thrilling sensation.  It was precisely that spooky, very jalapeño-like sentiment that greeted me after munching through a few of these chips, though unlike actual jalapeños, the subsequent blaze was of the controlled kind.  In other words, these are pleasantly spicy, but not so much as to cause discomfort to your average palate.
Cat realizing the horror of its
inevitable fiery doom.  Maybe
he even ate a jalapeno.
            So, with that hefty praise offered, I must sadly report that these chips suffered from some of the same limitations that have plagued earlier jalapeño chips.  Just like you don’t eat jalapeños alone but mixed in with other food, jalapeño flavoring really works better matched with something else, rather than all by its lonesome.  Too many other jalapeño chips leave you with just spicy and salty, which isn’t enough in my opinion- you want duality in flavoring,  (sweet and salty for barbecue flavoring, sour cream and onion, creamy and salty for cheese flavors, etc.), but ‘pure’ jalapeño chips lack the mixture.  While these chips throw in some nice hints of garlic and onion into the mix, those flavors don’t do enough to counterpoint the dominance of the salty crisps and spicy jalapeno.  Cape Cod’s Sweet and Spicy Jalapeño are a good example of a chip that found a better balance of flavor elements (I should have a review for those up eventually)- unfortunately, these chips are not as multi-dimensional.
            That shouldn’t take away from the sheer evocativeness of the jalapeño flavoring as it menacingly crawls up your tongue with its message of gastronomic dread, and I should restate for those that favor purity of flavor, of the pureblood Jalapeno chips these are the best I’ve had.  However, as Hermoine will attest, sometimes a mixed foundation yields richer rewards.

Stars: 2½/4
Spicines Rating: Moderate-Hot

- Highly evocative jalapeño pepper taste that builds up in your mouth like the real thing (but isn’t as painful at its peak!)
- Thick and crunchy kettle style chips, baked to a beautiful russet brown
- Flavoring is well distributed across the crisps

- Jalapeño flavoring is at it’s best when combined with something else
- Crisps are on the small side
- Some people may want a little more burnination in their spicy chips


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  2. I agree with all of this! These chips rock! But not to the point of tears!

  3. Tim's has been making this flavor since the early 1980s. They were way way ahead of this recent "flavor trend" you have mentioned.

  4. Tim's has been making this flavor since the early 1980s. They were way way ahead of this recent "flavor trend" you have mentioned.