I’m a sucker for unusual crisp flavours. I don’t mean the kind of tosh where they’ve slapped a flowery new name on an old flavour, like “Mature English Cheddar and Spring Onion” or “Ready Salted with the Tears of Nuns”. I mean when they take a risk and actually give us a new flavour. So when I found that Walkers had a set of six new varieties, I had to give them a try.
Even if the recurring theme was a little uninspiring: all six flavours are based around sandwiches.
Cheese Toastie and (Lea & Perrins) Worcester Source
What is it with potato crisps and their inability to taste of cheese? Wotsits, Dorios and their corn-based brethren do it fine, but when it comes to spud-derived snacks, everything goes a bit wrong. Walkers’ Dutch Edam flavour from their World Cup line was rank, and Pringles’ bizarrely-named Cheez’ums were taken off the market for good reason. Even the ever-popular cheese and onion only really works when it sort of gives up on cheese and settles for onion. When I was a kid we used to get a cheapo supermarket own-brand called Mr. Crispi, and its cheese and onion tasted of genuine evil.
And here we have another casualty with the Cheese Toastie and Worcester Sauce flavour. This does not taste of cheese, toasted or otherwise. It tastes of Lea & Perrins. I did pick up the hint of a creamy aftertaste after repeatedly licking one of the crisps, but that may simply have been the whey powder.
As Worcester sauce-flavoured crisps go these were fine. But, y’know, Worcester sauce-flavoured crisps are nothing new. Try harder, Walkers.
Cheese, Cucumber and (Heinz) Salad Cream
I didn’t have high expectations for these. I’ve already outlined my issues with cheesy crisps, and “cucumber flavour” strikes me as an oxymoron. That leaves us with salad cream, which isn’t exactly high on my list of condiments-that-should-be-crisps.
Predictably, this flavour turned out to be the weird cousin of cheese ‘n’ chive. There was a definite tang, which I suppose was a fair approximation of salad cream, along with a herby touch that I guess was meant to be cucumber. Then I was left with a somewhat sickly aftertaste that was presumably an attempt at cheese.
These don’t really taste of a cheese, cucumber and salad cream sandwich. They taste more like the unsightly ghost of a cheese, cucumber and salad cream sandwich, clanking its spectral chains as it warns its bretheren to beware, beware of the dreaded Vicar.
Bacon and (Heinz) Tomato Ketchup
Now these, these were good. Smokey bacon flavour has been around for yonks, but I don’t think it’s ever been anybody’s favourite. Tomato ketchup-flavoured crisps have turned up now and again, but never really caught on. And now, lo and behold, Bacon and Tomato Ketchup flavour combines the two into something that works better than either. It’s meaty! It’s tangy! What more could you ask for?
Gold star, Walkers.
Sausage and (HP) Brown Sauce
These, on the other hand, were kind of redundant. When translated into a crisp flavour, it turns out that sausage tastes like the bacon flavour only less tangy, while HP sauce tastes like the ketchup flavour only less tangy. So, in short, Sausage and Brown Sauce is like Bacon and Tomato Ketchup, only less tangy.
It’s not bad, it’s just a little unnecessary. Especially since… wait, hold on a sec, this taste is actually quite familiar…
Egad! A bit meaty, and a bit tangy: Sausage and Brown Sauce is simply what other crisp manufacturers have already put on the market as BBQ flavour!
You don’t fool me with your Heinz endorsement and photographs of meat products, Walkers. This ain’t no new flavour.
Roast Chicken and (Heinz) Mayonnaise
Oh boy. Now, I don’t know about you, but roast chicken flavoured crisps never really tasted like chicken to me. At most, they taste like roast chicken as slathered in some unidentifiable condiment. Now, with Chicken and Mayonnaise, we get the same thing again… only mixed with the rich flavour of mayo! Mmmmm.
Predictably, the mayo side barely registers. So what we’re left with is bog standard roast “chicken” flavour, only a little blander. Yeah. Not a success.
Ham and (Heinz) Mustard
Finally, we come to Ham and Mustard flavour. Or, as the bag has it, “Heinz Yellow Mustard New York Deli Style Mild”.
Well, they certainly got the “yellow” part down. These are the yellowest crisps I’ve ever seen: so yellow, in fact, that they are actually a little closer to the green side of the spectrum than the orange of a typical crisp.
Flavour-wise, they did the job. They tasted of mustard, with a definite bit of meatiness on the side. This is, admittedly, not really something new – I recall eating ham and mustard flavoured crisps in my childhood, a memory that is now accompanied by Hovis music whenever I dredge it up. But still, it’s as good a flavour as any to revive.
Verdict: One all-out success in Bacon and Tomato Ketchup, four repackagings of old flavours, and one failure with Cheese, Cucumber and Salad Cream. Tasty on the whole, but lacking that true spirit of invention.