Summer reissue: Madeleine Chapman goes through starchy hell to rank every flavour of chip available in New Zealand*.
First published 29 March, 2019
*Of course I will have missed some and of course you’ll let me know. Sorry and thanks in advance.
This list is so long it really doesn’t need an intro.
Hell-123) Any novelty flavour ever
Get directly in the bin.
122-119) Countdown Salt & Vinegar Tube, Countdown Sour Cream & Onion Tube, Countdown Original Tube, Countdown BBQ Tube
Disgusting. They taste like cardboard that’s been rained on, walked on, then oven fried. Do not invest, do not ingest.
118) ETA Uppercuts Corn Tapas Quinoa & Chia
This isn’t a chip, it’s a cracker. And a bad one at that.
117) Pringles Mystery Flavour
If you go all the way to the supermarket and pick a mystery flavour chip, you’re a psychopath.
116) ETA Uppercuts Corn Tapas Salsa with a hint of Jalapeno
I’ve never seen this flavour in a store before but apparently it exists.
115) Copper Kettle Special Reserve Sea Salt & Black Truffle
A controversial placing, perhaps, but sea salt and black truffle as a chip flavour proves that fanciness most certainly does not equal quality.
114) Copper Kettle Special Reserve Slow Roasted Pork Belly & Mustard Cider Jus
Who authorised TWELVE words for this packaging? Pork and mustard might have tasted fine but this abomination of a flavour name brings the whole operation down.
113) Heartland Crafted BBQ
I’ve never been more disappointed by a chip. Putting the word “barbecue” on a packet of chips is putting out a promise that there will be Flavour, capital F. Nobody chooses barbecue chips for a mild time. But that’s exactly what Heartland limply offers up with this insult to the meatiest of flavours. Like eating a chip that once lived next door to someone who barbecued.
112-109) Bluebird Thinly Cut Sour Cream & Chives, Bluebird Thinly Cut Salt & Vinegar, Bluebird Thinly Cut Ready Salted, Bluebird Thinly Cut Chicken
Why would you cheat yourself like this? Get regular cut or get Delisio. There’s no place for a stock-standard thin chip.
108) Pams Cheese & Onion
I appreciate the initiative. Few other brands have a cheese and onion flavour, but for good reason.
107) Bluebird Gluten Free Cheese & Onion
A bad flavour, but without gluten.
106) Copper Kettle Vintage Cheddar & Red Onion
Just because you used fancier words doesn’t make it not cheese and not onion.
105) Proper Crisps Rosemary & Thyme
We don’t need to go to the garden for flavours. Keep it truly artificial, please.
104) Doritos Nacho Cheese
This flavour isn’t even that bad but to have nacho cheese AND cheese supreme as flavours means one has to get culled early.
103) Grain Waves Golden Cheddar
All Grain Waves flavours are strong but someone has to come last and that someone will always be a cheese flavour.
102) Heartland Finest Flat Cuts Lemon Pepper
101) ETA Ripple Cut Chicken
A lot of people love ETA chicken. But those people did not spend far too many hours writing this stupid list so it’s going right here. ETA chicken is gross.
100) Copper Kettle Special Reserve Champagne Vinaigrette & Shallot
A nothing flavour. Just eat a potato.
99) Doritos Original Salted
A nothing flavour. Just eat a cob of corn.
98) ETA Thick Cut Kiwi BBQ
Has anyone ever bought this flavour? With all the barbecue kettle chips available, who’s buying this? If you’ve ever bought a packet of ETA Thick Cut Kiwi BBQ chips, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for a personal intervention.
97) Heartland Finest Flat Cuts Chilli Salt
Sometimes mixing two disparate flavours works. Other times you get this.
96) Countdown Corn Chips Supreme Cheese
It seems a lot easier to get corn chips wrong and that would explain why Countdown’s attempt is distinctly off.
95) Countdown Corn Chips Original Salted
94) Mexicano Sea Salt & Lime
Mexicano has the best corn chips in the game, there’s no arguing that. But they got overly ambitious and brought out too many flavours. No one asked for sea salt and lime and no one ever will.
93) Mexicano Sweet Chilli
Sweet chilli is a flavour designed for a regular cut chip or a thin chip. It’s simply not strong enough to carry a thick corn chip.
92) Delisio Teriyaki Chicken
Chicken as a flavour is reliable. Don’t mess with it.
91-86) Delisio Sea Salt, Krispa Sea Salt, Kettle Chip Company Original Sea Salt, Heartland Crafted Southern Sea Salt, ETA Thick Cut Sea Salt, Copper Kettle Sea Salt, ETA Ripple Cut Sea Salt
Unless you’ve sprinkled Lot’s wife onto a slice of potato, we don’t need the salt’s origin story.
84) Heartland Southern Salt
This is no better. Call me old fashioned but a salty chip should be the most basic, thinnest salt in the land. Don’t need the fancy granules.
83) Pams Kettle Fried Ready Salted
I’m only up to 83 hahaha ha ha.
82) Pams Kettle Fried BBQ
Every budget brand has one or two flavours it totally nails. Kettle fried is not something that Pams nails.
81) Heartland Finest Flat Cuts Sea Salt & Black Pepper
This feels and tastes like someone scrambling for new ideas and somehow circling right back around to the most unoriginal idea.
80) ETA Uppercuts Corn Tapas Feta & Garlic
Tapas. Carol, no.
79) Proper Crisps Onion with Green Chives
I’ve made a huge mistake.
78) Twisties Cheese
There are so many chip flavours. Why would I commit to ranking every single one of them.
77) Heartland Crafted Roast Chicken
They’re basically all the same in this mediocre range.
76) Heartland Crafted Apple Cider Vinegar
Actually no, this flavour was legit bad.
75) Proper Crisps Marlborough Salt
But otherwise there’s just a lot of OK-but-not-great staple flavours.
74) Pams Sour Cream & Chives
What is there to say about Pams sour cream and chives?
73) Heartland Salt & Vinegar
About as much as there is to say about Heartland salt and vinegar.
72) Pams Ready Salted
No one’s reading this anyway. I wouldn’t be.
71) ETA Ripple Cut Sour Cream & Chives
I don’t even read the middle of rankings when there are 10 items, let alone 123.
70) Pams Green Onion
Come to think of it. The middle portion of a long, ranked list is probably the least visited area of the internet.
69) Kettle Chip Company Sweet Chilli & Sour Cream
Now is the safest time for me to throw all my controversial opinions into the abyss.
68) Heartland Green Onion
No one would know.
67) Kettle Chip Company Sea Salt & Vinegar
I could rid myself of so much baggage. Let’s go.
66) Fresher Potato Chips Ready Salted
I think ready salted chips are all trash but I’ll put one of them near the top of this list so I don’t cause an uproar.
65) Mexicano Tasty Salsa
Breakfast is overrated.
64) Heartland Maple Bacon
Just eat a really good lunch.
63) Pams Salt & Vinegar
I enjoyed The Newsroom (2012) when it first aired. A lot.
62) ETA Uppercuts Sour Cream & Chives
If I rewatch it now I can objectively see that it’s a bad show but I still enjoy it.
61) Kettle Chip Company Chilli with Jalapeño & Red Chillies
Christmas carols are cool and sometimes I listen to them in the middle of the year.
60) Heartland Sour Cream & Chives
What does it really mean to rank things?
59) ETA Uppercuts Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar
Who am I to rank something so arbitrarily?
58) Countdown Green Onion
Then again, what is life if not a constant cycle of ranking and being ranked.
57) Heartland Chicken
Speaking of, this flavour is rank.
56) Countdown Ready Salted
Cats are bad.
55) Countdown Sour Cream & Chives
Dogs are good.
54) ETA Ripple Cut Salt & Vinegar
Not long ago I did my grocery shopping at Countdown Mt Eden and bought a lot of food. When I got home I realised I’d walked through the store, through the checkout, and out the door without paying for the black bin bags in my hand.
53) Doritos Salsa
This is a skeleton that’s been rattling in my closet and I’m so glad to let it out.
52) Delisio Mediterranean Feta and Herb
When I die I don’t want to be buried. Give my body to some trembling medical students to hack away at.
51) Proper Crisps Smoked Paprika
Or maybe use my skin to research how it is that skin can get so, so dry without shedding whole like a snake.
50) Countdown BBQ
How would you like your body to be disposed of? Let me know at email@example.com.
49) Krispa Salt & Vinegar
I miss Krispa.
48) Grain Waves Sour Cream & Chives
Sour cream and chives is overrated.
47) Bluebird Thick Cut Sour Cream & Chives
46) Doritos Cheese Supreme
One of my most embarrassing moments was throwing up on the bus to school as a 15-year-old. Because my school was next door to the Beehive, the bus was filled with government officials. The vomit itself was the thick kind and, in my attempts to not throw up on a packed bus, I snorted it out of my nose first and then into my hands. It was the consistency of porridge and the last thing I’d eaten was cheese corn chips the night before.
45) Bluebird Gluten Free Ready Salted
Chips aren’t gluten free?
44) ETA Uppercuts Sweet Chilli Relish
Go back and read the first word of every line for a cool surprise.
43) Bluebird Gluten Free Chicken
Was it gibberish? I thought so.
42) Pams Chicken
I wish I was clever enough to do something like that.
41) Bluebird Originals Sour Cream & Chives
Dream big, kids.
40) Mexicano Natural
I understand that these work very well within meals and other snacks, but a celebrated chip needs to stand on its own.
39) Mexicano Smokey Bacon
I thought this flavour tasted good but would taste better on a potato chip. Then I tasted a bacon-flavoured potato chip and it wasn’t good. The lesson here is: be grateful for what you have.
38) Pringles Sour Cream & Onion
A decent flavour but soooo powdery. Try eating these without making a mess, I dare you.
37) Copper Kettle Sea Salt & Vinegar
A little too vinegary for me.
I wouldn’t generally count this because it’s such an obviously foreign brand but they’re available at both Countdown and New World so they go in. I dunno, they’re American and taste like it.
The weakest of the orange chips. Too big for kids’ mouths to eat normally.
34) Bluebird Thick Cut Ready Salted
You’d think a thick-cut ready-salted chip would be perfect for Kiwi onion dip.
33) Grain Waves Salsa
For the whole of 2010 I spent every Saturday watching my teammates bat while eating a sandwich made from the following ingredients: white bread roll, Tegel rotisserie chicken, supermarket deli coleslaw, and salsa Grain Waves. It was delicious, but I’ve matured enough to know that salsa Grain Waves are merely a good chip, not a great one.
32) Mexicano Tasty Cheese
I’m naturally averse to cheese flavours as a rule but the crunch of Mexicano corn chips are so good they elevate whatever flavouring sits upon them. Though not the best flavour in their brand family, tasty cheese is a welcome staple that does a fine job as a nachos base.
31) Bluebird Thick Cut Crispy Bacon
Bacon is a respectable flavour that’s hard to pull off. It almost works on a corn chip and definitely doesn’t on a regular potato chip. But a thick cut very nearly does it. Perhaps the only redeeming feature in an otherwise overly dense, laborious cut of potato.
30) Countdown Salt & Vinegar
Welcome back to all the readers who correctly scrolled past the last 80 flavours. We’re down to the good stuff.
29) Cheese Balls
Cheese balls are actually pretty gross as a concept but their uniquely fun shape catapults them to a respectable placing. Don’t eat them, though. Cheese balls are fun and gross.
If they still sold the chicken version of these, Cruncheese would have a podium placing. Instead, the cheese flavour is merely decent. Bonus points for the svelte packaging that makes you feel like you didn’t just eat a whole bag of chips when you really did.
27) Twisties Chicken
Combine these with Cruncheese and we have a winner. Unfortunately the actual consistency of Twisties makes them an inferior product. But that generous coating of flavour… it’s good.
I’m allergic to something in the Twisties flavouring but I’ll still eat them if they’re around.
25) Bluebird Originals Chicken
Look, it’s a staple, whether you like it or not.
24) Kettle Chip Company Honey Soy Chicken
There have been a few honey soy chicken attempts and almost all of them are sickly sweet. Chill out. This iteration isn’t half bad but has been overtaken recently by more subtle flavour combos.
23) Doritos Sweet Thai Chilli
The best Doritos flavour for making nachos (nachos being literally just grating cheese on corn chips and microwaving them) is sweet Thai chilli.
22) Delisio Caramelised Onion and Balsamic Vinegar
Personally my favourite version of salt and vinegar and the only version I’d happily eat as a standalone snack sans dip.
21) Delisio Greek Tzatziki
A divisive flavour, I could take it or leave it.
20) Bluebird Originals Ready Salted
Obligatory ready salted addition.
19) ETA Ripple Cut The Works
This flavour is ranked this high simply because of name recognition. It’s not a good flavour and yet every time I’m standing in the chip aisle I have a fleeting thought, maybe I should get The Works. I never do but they’re on my mind a lot. That’s branding.
18) Pams BBQ
This is the one flavour that Pams does very well. There are quite a few good and fancy barbecue flavours but only one good and budget one.
17) Corn Chips Chicken Wheat Snack
They used to have a salt and vinegar version of the creatively named Corn Chips available at every dairy for a fraction of the price of Bluebird or ETA. Unfortunately they quite literally seared your tongue and I’m sure I saw someone’s mouth bleed from eating them so it’s no surprise they’re no longer available. Fun fact: The orange packaging is only visible inside a dairy.
16) Bluebird Originals Green Onion
So rarely purchased but never disappoints as a slightly quirky option for your barbecue.
15) Pringles Salt & Vinegar
15) Countdown Chicken
Chicken is the only flavour that somehow gets better the cheaper the chip is.
14) Pringles BBQ
Best Pringles flavour IMO.
The Burger Ring for the sophisticated individual. I’ve written about so many different flavours but writing this has made me crave Rashuns. If that’s not quality I don’t know what is. Certainly a chip worth washing your hands for.
12) Heartland Finest Flat Cuts Sea Salt
According to someone whose opinion I value, Heartland offers the best chip strength for dipping. And because this someone is *of age*, they consider the cursed sea salt flavour to be the best.
11) Delisio Sweet Chilli Relish
I’ve eaten more Delisio sweet chilli relish chips in my life than possibly any other snack food. Every single uni essay I handed in between 2012 and 2014 had at least one sweet chilli relish crumb on it. It’s just a perfect flavour. Not too sweet, and on a thin crisp done well. It’s tasty, it’s delectable, it’s… Delisio.
10) Munchos Spicy Tomato
As far as individual chip cost, you simply cannot beat Munchos for value for money. While other brands may profit from selling packaged air, Munchos leave no breathing space for disappointment. If you try to eat a whole family bag, and you will, it’ll end with a cut tongue and a deep serenity. The flavour doesn’t even pretend to be true to tomato. Flavour is just red and yet red is exactly what you were craving.
Note: Poppa Jacks should be in the top 20 but I forgot about them and to include them now would mean manually renumbering everything. Sorry, Poppa Jacks. You have cool packaging.
9) Doritos Flame-grilled BBQ
Have you ever bought some budget shaved ham from the supermarket deli, put it in a croissant (you splashed out), added BBQ Doritos, squished it down, and eaten it? If you haven’t, you should. It’s a delicacy.
8) Proper Crisps Cider Vinegar & Sea Salt
Sometimes being fancy does help. Shout out local chip-makers. Your product may be the most expensive on the market but it’s bloody good.
7) Krispa Chicken
RIP Krispa. They were the only brand that consistently offered sub-one-dollar prices. For primary school kids with no money, Krispa was the entirety of the chip section. And of their three flavours on offer, chicken was by far the best.
6) Copper Kettle Wood Fired BBQ
I’ve never met a single person who doesn’t like this flavour. It’s barbecue done right. No further comment.
5) Pringles Original
It’s not easy to make people willingly pick a plain flavour of anything. Not only has Pringles managed it but they’ve also managed to keep a stranglehold on the term ‘Original’. A lot of other brands chuck an ‘original’ in their titles but Pringles managed to make it a flavour. It’s the greatest trick the devil ever pulled.
4) Mexicano Jalapeño
Oh, oh, Mexicano. I’m struggling. I’ve written 3000 words about bloody chips and I regret everything. These chips are yum.
3) Grain Waves Honey Mustard
A beautiful tribute from Jose Barbosa:
“What is there to say about Honey Mustard Grain Waves except that they may very well be the finest chips we are lucky enough to enjoy here in Aotearoa. Firstly consider the texture. Grainy goodness accentuated by the pleasing and easy ‘wave’ configuration of the single chip. A bag of Grain Waves is a meal unto itself. And they’re made of whole grains. Do you know who else ate grains? Jesus. So each perfect Grain Wave takes you closer to God.
Secondly, we have the taste. You know how every brand is doing ‘Peking duck’ or ‘ploughman’s lunch and watercress salad’ flavours? Well, Grain Waves started it with honey mustard, a sublime mix of the sweet and sour, the flavours rolling around on your tongue, jostled by the aforementioned grains. All this mixes together in your gut, which, if it had tear ducts, would cry from the gift it receives every time you send a couple of Honey Mustard Grain Waves down the gullet.”
2) Burger Rings
Controversial statement from a Spinoff staffer who doesn’t deserve anonymity but will nonetheless be granted it:
“Burger Rings are not a chip. That’s like calling a sandwich a burger. It’s a snack food. I can understand why we use chip as a shorthand for cheese/burger/grain snacks but they are not a true chip. Burger Rings are a corn snack and Twisties are a cheese-flavoured snack. Grain Waves are more cracker than chip.”
Once again, anonymity undeserved but required for their safety.
Burger Rings are a chip. More specifically, Burger Rings are the second best chip in New Zealand. It’s the children’s chip. Most people, myself included, grow up worshipping the ring. Don’t even look at me, Rashuns. The rings had me wrapped around its finger as it wrapped itself around mine. As we stumble through our lives, our tastes dim. We want a Rashun, we want a thin cut, we want… salt. But Burger Rings will always be there for when you want to travel back to a more innocent time. Look at my ring, Mum, I’m married.
1) Bluebird Originals Salt & Vinegar
There’s only one packet of chips in New Zealand that can be taken to any party and be accepted without complaint. Its dark green packaging isn’t a warm embrace, it’s a firm handshake, strong and familiar. Much like smoking a joint, you will cough the first time you inhale the sweet goodness of a freshly opened pack.
They’re not so strong that you can’t eat a whole packet in one sitting, and not so weak as to be a plain potato. And they’re the best chips for Kiwi onion dip. No further discussion will be entered into. If you find out you have a friend who dislikes Bluebird salt and vinegar chips, congratulations, you now have one less friend.
Bluebird salt and vinegar chips are the best in New Zealand.
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.