Monday, June 18, 2012

Krunchers! Sweet Hawaiian Onion Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

           What on Earth - or should I say, “what in the Pacific Ocean”- is a Sweet Hawaiian Onion?  As it turns out the Krunchers brand isn’t inventing a mythical pineapple-flavored onion, but rather is referring to the ‘Maui Onion’- so called because the best ones are grown off the side of a goddamned volcano in Maui called Mount Haleakala, and how much more awesome could something be than that? 

Despite it's volcano-loving
proclivities, the Maui onion can be
grown in a home garden.
That sinister red volcanic soil produces small onions with unusually low amounts of sulfer and high amounts of water- resulting in a vegetable extra juicy and sweet as a mob mistress.  In fact, these exemplary onions are recommended for raw-eating, which makes me want to one up Johny appleseed by munching away on Maui onions and planting them on every field I can find.  (Ok, to be fair, the Georgia-grown Vidalia onion is also similar in taste and consistency.)

According to Hawaian folklore, the demigod Maui's
grandma lives in the crater on Mt. Haleakala, and
one spring day she might yet pour a tide of liquid
hot magma death instead of onions down the
 slopes of her awesomely named home.
 So, has Kruncher’s really made specifically ‘Maui onion’ chips?  Well, unfortunately, I can’t tell for sure.  To their credit, ‘onion powder’ is nearly at the top of the ingredient list, but no details as to whether it’s Hawaiian onion powder (maybe it is, but I certainly can’t tell!), and the rest of the list is all chemicals of one variety or another with the exception of a hint of garlic powder.  The seasoning does taste mildly sweet, and mercifully light on salt (unlike many other otherwise tasty onion-flavored products).  Some might find themselves wanting to ramp up the sweetness or saltiness dial, but the principle shortcoming is unfortunately much more serious.

One of the few flavors I don't
want to taste in my food.
        That relatively mild sweet onion flavor is completely overpowered by the oil that crisps have been cooked in.  These otherwise impressive kettle-cooked chips have been thoroughly soaked in a (non-trans fat) corn oil that reeks of the sort of cooking oil usually poured on a skillet.  While some may feel that the rough oil brings an authentic touch, it may simply be that it is too authentic, and overpowers the flavoring by far.

An excellent image of Krunchers chips
courtesy of realfitmama.  Note that
they don't have visible seasoning.
This is truly tragic, because in most other regards the texture and potato crisps are really first class kick-ass.  The blonde potato rounds are extra thick (up to 2 millimeters!) , twisted and rumpled in beautifully complex shapes, and wonderfully crunchy in an organically uneven sort of way.  As you munch away at them, you can even feel the (too-strong) oils seeping coolly out of the saturated crisps onto the tongue.  (I should note that the nutritional information shows these chips to be no more unhealthy than an average bag of Lay’s potato chips- and these are gluten free!)

            Ultimately, the over-saturation of the cooking oil flavor and the comparative weakness of the seasoning leaves me feeling that these chips didn’t quite carry the day- Maui onion flavor is a neat concept, but the seasoning is too subtle and the cooking oil is as a discrete as She-Hulk before the red moon.  The amazing quality of the potato round does leave me intrigued about trying other Kruncher’s products; perhaps if I swiped some actual Maui onions and mixed them together I'd get the complete experience.
She Hulk making a subtle

Stars: 2/4
Spiciness Rating: None

- Incredibly thick and crunchy kettle cooked potato rounds impress with their class and texture
- Inoffensive and light sweet onion flavoring is pleasant and avoids the excessive saltiness common in the genre

- Super-excessive corn-oil flavoring oversaturates the chips and overpowers the seasonin
- Many will find themselves wishing for a sweet and possibly slightly-saltier onion seasoning
- It’s unclear that the seasoning is really very ‘Hawaiian’


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