Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tim’s Cascade Style Mild Pepper Jack Cheese Flavored

The Internet has not ONE image
of the MILD variety of Pepper
Jack chips, so behold my
contribution to the official record!
            I have always been a believer that Pepper Jack is perhaps America’s greatest contribution to international cheesehood.  Nice creamy white marbled cheese stuffed full of hot peppers, how can it not be brilliant?   More strangely, I’m not aware of any other cheeses in the world that emulate this ingenious pepper-insertion model, (though please inform me in the comments if I am wrong!)  Pepper Jack cheese can be found just about everywhere in contemporary American unhealthy food- on top of at least one variant of hamburger at any diner worth its name, stuffed in jalapeno poppers, etc.  Needless to say, Pepper Jack flavored chips have been long overdue, and when I received a package from the United States including a bag proclaiming to be Pepper Jack cheese flavored, I was more than a little excited.
Pepper Jack cheese- the one time
American + Cheese Curds= awesome.
            Now, first to get some of the basics out of the way: these are part of the line of Tim’s Cascade Style chips, and like my earlier reviews for these chips, I found that they had a generally superior crunchy thick texture, with beautifully browned crisps, though somewhat diminished by the fairly small size of the potato rounds.  But what of the flavor?
 Rather than sprinkle on some standard cheddar flavoring, the seasoning on these chips conveys a creamier/milkier flavor quite that’s very appropriate in conveying the experience of soft white Monterey Jack cheese.  Unfortunately, the seasoning is still quite salty, and tends linger on the back of the tongue, and in no time the creamy cheese flavoring is somewhat undermined by the onslaught of sodium.  The ingredient list includes Monterey Jack, Blue, and Cheddar cheese as ingredients (something to be praised considering how many companies would have gone the route of artificial flavorings with such an endeavor), but I might speculate that they may have gotten carried away with the saltiness of the Blue cheese, because if you remove the peppers, Monterey Jack is fairly mild cheese in terms of saltiness. 
 But what of the pepper part of things, you ask insistently, hopping up and down with impatience?
Well, those readers of a discerning eye may have noticed that these are ‘Mild’ Pepper Jack chips, and those also aware of my prejudices will understand when I express my chagrin that this appellation is indeed accurate.  The back of the bag boasts “we combined spicy peppers with a flavor that flirts with your taste buds for that zesty warming flavor.”  Well, I will say that yes, the peppers in the seasoning do ‘flirt’ with your taste buds, and it’s nice.  But this is flirting like a brush on the arm, and frankly I expect at least a full-blown make out session- this is a romantic comedy that climaxes with some nervous hands-held-together rather than a fade to black.  Look, a little spicy flirtation is great, but with food we kind of feel entitled to the whole experience after a little commitment, and less of this delayed-anticipation-and-uncertain-payoff stuff. 

"I do find that she glances at him in a
rather forward manner, would you
not say?"  "Indisputably, madam;
dare I say a glance like that is one
step short of teabagging."

           So yes, you do get a pleasant low burn after you eat these for a while, but the words Mild sum it up too well, and I must say that this is a disappointment (even though one foreshadowed in the name of the product itself!)  Now, as far as the Internet is concerned there is no 'Mild' version of these chips, so it's possible the more typical version on store shelves is considerably spicier, and if I have the opportunity to give a spicier version a try I would likely find them considerably superior.  However, I can only review the 'Mild' version available to me; as it is, taking a spicy food, and making a mild-spicy flavor out of it seems a basic contradiction in design intent.  As it is, the spicy element that’s present is better than nothing at all, but leaves you yearning for a little more boldness in the recipe team- a flirt that isn’t just stringing you along.  It is perhaps unfortunately telling that there are no peppers specifically cited in the ingredients list.
            As a final note, I must say that unlike my earlier reviews of Tim’s Cascade style products, I found that the crisps at the top of the bag had too little flavoring and that a more favorable balance of flavoring per crisp wasn’t reached until the bottom half.  This does mean that the eating experience improves over time while eating these, but still indicates they should gone a little heavier on the seasoning.

Stars: 2/4
Spiciness Rating: Mild

- Nice creamy white cheese-flavoring
- Above average texture
- the spicy aspect, such as it is, is fun

- the spicy aspect should be spicier
- the cheese flavored seasoning is tarnished by excessive saltiness
- crisps are a little on the small side

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