Friday, July 8, 2011

Pringles Xtreme Ragin’ Cajun

This is the second bag of chips I’ve reviewed that invokes the original angry native of Louisiana, James Carville, the Clintonite political adivsor married to the Republican political operative Mary Matalin, and on a level that is completely unrelated to the flavoring, the title was completely appropriate, because when I produced my first crisp from the tube lovingly air-transported for my delectation, I probably resembled Carville after a husband-wife chat on the future of American healthcare:
The photographer did not survive the fire-breath and laser-beams-from-the-eyes that  followed.  Also, for some reason, the camera did not capture my horns, second row of fangs, and the blackness of my heart. Well, maybe the last one.
Those of you who are not color blind may note that what you can see is the image of a white Pringle crisp with an extremely thin trace of flavoring along the ridge of the crisp.  Which is to say that the rest of the supposedly Cajun-themed crisp has no flavoring.  For chip, after chip, after chip.  While I have no Cajun ancestors, I am half French and this outrage is enough to inspire in me the famous battle frenzy of my Louisianan not-really-forbearers as they routed the English in the battle of New Orleans in 1815.
Take THAT for burning down the White House!
Note that they learned after the battle that the peace treaty had already been signed weeks earlier.  Woops!
Pringles often (but not universally) exhibit abysmal incompetence in their application of flavoring, but this particular batch was beyond the pale ale- countless chips with the most insultingly miniscule amounts of flavoring applied in a thin line on the edge of the crisp.  Can you not feel your blood pressure mounting at this calculated insult or blithering incompetence, as surely as if you had just received the glove-slap of a young aristocrat who has just finished soiling the graves of your ancestors?  Pringles without flavoring are simply not that impressive, thank you, and as the brand coasts by on its reputation it should really address the dangerous fundamental issues in its flavoring application before they go the way of the US economy at the end of the housing bubble.
Those hard eyes promise cruel retribution
for heretical views on American
exceptionalism...IN BED!
The truly great tragedy here, though, is that the seasoning on the crisps is actually pretty damn good, and if it had been appropriately and consistently applied I would be singing its praises to high heavens (where presumably Xena in angel form could appreciate them.)  Towards the middle of the tube, some of the crisps began exhibiting something more like 50% coverage of seasoning, and it was enough for me to realize that, in marked contrast to the Ragin’ Cajun Cheetos, (which were good but basically renditions of sour cream and tabasco), these crisps were genuinely spicy and evocative of Cajun seasonings.

there is nothing to divert me from my ambiguously
sado-masochistic relationship with Gabrielle!
Yes, you heard that right, the Xtreme label is there to denote the supposed intensity of the flavoring, and if you are so lucky to eat a crisp with even half of the appropriate amount of flavoring, you will see that these crisps are actually burning hot.  Hot enough in fact to burn your lips collaterally, but it’s all in good fun, and what’s a little pyromania without innocent victims?  Suffice to say, these Pringles were satisfyingly spicy when the seasoning was actually there, and I was favorably impressed.

Sadly the tellingly unpretentious original
location has closed, but was reopened
at a different location- I should definitely
check it out next time I'm in town!
The flavor of the seasonings didn’t stand out as much (being more limited by the unevenness of their distribution than the spicy aspect), but all in all they exhibited a salty-sweet blend that evoked childhood meals at a Washington DC area institution, the Louisiana Express, and its use of orange-colored seasonings usually prominently featuring ground-cayenne and paprika matched with a smoky aroma.  (The ingredients list additionally denotes garlic, onion, and tomato powder, as well as habaneros in the mélange.)  A whiff of my hands after the guilty snack reminded me more than little of my grubby youthful self after having devoured an Andouille sausage or paella, and just about to get my sticky fingers covered in powdered-sugar coated beignets.  So, even though the screw up on applying the flavoring seriously limits the degree to which you can appreciate the flavoring, on those occasions that there’s enough there to taste, you’ll feel that they did it right.
The chips don't actually taste like beignets
but I felt like putting a picture up anyway.
They're like donuts but Frencher!

So there you have the tragedy of the Ragin’ Cajun: like a talented art student that flunks out of college out of failure to actually turn anything in, the seasoning on the Pringles is brilliant and provocatively spicy when present, but all too often there is a serious problem with attendance.

Stars: 2/4 (3 if the seasoning had consistently applied, 1 if every crisp had been as poorly coated as the first half of the tube)
Spiciness: Hot

- Intensly spicy flavor that lingers without slaying
- Delightfully evocative Cajun spices seasoning, that when present, reminds you of bayou cuisine

- SEASONING MIA, PRESUMED AWOL (to varying degrees on 2/3 of the crisps)


  1. I just bought a can of these today, before I read your review. Spot on as always, but I will report that the flavor coverage in my particular can was surprisingly uniform for Pringles. This is undoubtedly the exception, not the rule, but it was nice.

  2. Glad to here it! To be honest, I suspect that seasonign application is a sporadic problem throughout the manufacturing line rather than confined to a particular variety, and I'm happy to hear you got one of the properly done cans- this flavor actually does taste pretty good when done right!

  3. I LOVE this flavor. It's SO delicious!! I used to like their Jalapeno ones but couldn't find them in the store anymore, so I tried this one last week. YUM. Great flavor and spiciness. LOVE it! It's not like other cajun chips I've tried. They are usually grossly loaded with sugared cajun. These are not. Delicious!

  4. Mmmm, sugared cajun sounds like a sweeter form of cannibalism. Still, I can't approve of the eating of the French-descended people as it might endanger me. But yeah, I thought these had a pretty good take on cajun seasoning- can't imagine why these other chips you mention would be putting sugar in cajun-spiced snacks- something for me to investigate, for sure!