Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Route 11 Mama Zuma’s Revenge Habanero Potato Chips

Image courtesy of JunkFoodGuy
who has a very comprehensive
analysis of the packaging.
Let's be honest, for some books or movies the cover or poster alone is worth the price of admission, so ridiculously awesome (or awesomely ridiculous) that whatever follows can only at best complament the outrages insinuated.  How could this not be the case for Mama Zuma’s chips- the word ‘epic’ was misappropriated by pop culture for this very reason!

Zuma is dripping with crackling allure and a take-no-prisoners mystique, draped in a hot pepper bandolier and a revolutionary flag somewhat incongruously bearing a corporate logo rather than an anarchist slogan.  The back of the package explains that Zuma lost the love of her life in a ‘bizarre and tragic potato peeler accident’, which rather evokes Spock's attempt to con the New York police (see 0:43) by claiming his ears were the result of an encounter with a mechanical rice picker.  Now Zuma is “hell bent on burning every mouth she kisses with her special brand of passion”.  I can already see the Direct to DVD script writing itself, replete with explosions and catfights.  Machete, watch out, you have a competitor!

I SO want to see this movie.  Very slightly adapted
from Ludolf Backhuy's original oil paintaing...
As much as Route 11 may come off as being full on themselves with their “Warning: These chips are made with some of the hottest peppers on the planet” labels and assorted spicy food braggadocio, Zuma chips prove she’s no girly Sailor Moon and fully deserves her reputation for fiery badassitude.  These chips are exceptionally hot and spicy, and manage to pack in about as much flavor as possible on a chip thats set about burning away your taste buds from the get go.  Your mouth is Atlanta, and the chips are Sherman.

Sherman left Atlanta 100% more burnt
down than when he arrived, though
at least he didn't leave the population
inside while indulging his pyromania.

I’ve already discussed Jalapeno peppers in previous posts, but Habanero peppers are their more elite, more rarely encountered cousins: small, perfectly innocent-looking orange peppers that just happen to be one the most intensely spicy naturally-born peppers on the face of the earth.  Literally.  Habaneros also have their own distinct flavor from Jalapenos, (sweeter and less bitter overall), but they are so burning hot that one rarely is afforded much of a chance to notice it.

Habaneros look so dainty and cute for
something that can leave  you writhing
in pain.  The Red Savina Habanero was
claimed to be the hottest pepper on
Earth, but that title has been claimed 
later by others such as the Ghost Chili,
Naga Viper and the Trinidad Scorpion
among other names on what appears to
be a team of superheroes.
Let me be honest, just like you may feel the English Patient is a lovely movie but you wouldn’t recommend it for kids, Zuma’s chips are only going to be appropriate for two types of people: those who enjoy extremely spicy flavors, or those who enjoy a genuine test of their endurance.  Snack-eaters with a more limited capacity for setting a raging firestorm in your gills would be wise to stay away- every individual chip eaten alone packs a terrifying punch, and three or so in succession will leave a prolonged burn in your throat.

Though it does look like Count Lazlo
(Ralph Fiennes) may also have a turbulent
history with Mama Zuma as well...

The crisps themselves are quite small- ranging between 1 inch and 1.5 inches in diameter on average- though this is not really a great flaw because the individual chips are so densely packed with spices and flavor that more would be counterproductive and possibly dangerous for your mouth.  They are beautifully kettle-cooked, with a bubbly and crunchy texture, and slathered with thick orange seasonings.

This excellent photo courtesy
of Aleta fom the Omnomicon,
who actually offers a recipe of
baked chicken breasts covered
in Zuma's Revenge chips.

I hinted earlier that extremely spicy foods can limit the extent to which other flavors can be appreciated, and there is no doubt that the powerful habanero spices in Zuma’s Revenge predominate over the other seasonings on these chips. Nonetheless, those subtler flavors are still there to be appreciated- notes of salt and garlic, and a pleasing smoky aroma give a wonderfully sophisticated backdrop for the tongue-stomping in the foreground.  Furthermore, the distinct taste of the habanero pepper can be discerned, which is a rewarding surprise in and of itself.

Anyone looking to see how far they are willing to burn themselves for love of spicy sensations is well advised to give Zuma’s Revenge a shake.  Here, the incandescent thrills are matched with first-class supporting spices and kettle cooked potato rounds.  However, a slower pace of eating is advised, or that fiery fox will burn you to a crisp.

Stars: 3/4
...I wasn't kidding!  Although I would
personally be rather afraid to bite into
that delicious looking thing, considering
how spicy those chips are individually.
Spiciness Rating: Flaming Hot

- Truly spicy Habanero challenge
-Excellent backdrop flavors of salt, garlic, and pepper
- Beautiful extra-crunchy crisps

- Only good for those with a tolerance for intense spice
- The crisps are very small, and should be eaten slowly


  1. I love these friggin chips! My tolerance for spice hovers above the line where about 95% of people would say it is inedible. I've found, that if u keep eating these chips one after the other, there is an underlying sweetness to them, which becomes more pronounced as your taste buds are gradually incinerated. I can't wait to try the chicken recipe, but I have to go get more chips, because I can't stop eating them.

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