Crispin Lover

“The crisp is a truly wonderful thing,” wrote Ralph Sharansky in the Idler. “It serves as the antithesis of real food.” (Quote from Guardian article below.)

I find health food freakery to be one of the most boring afflictions known to modern man, so the Guardian’s Great British Crisp Challenge delighted me.

“Recently, of course, parents have grown concerned by such disarming facts as: a single packet is three times as salty as sea water and contains half the recommended daily salt intake for a six-year-old; half the fat content is the evil saturated kind; the leading brand crisps all contain monosodium glutamate, among other enhancers; and there are 185 calories in a 34g packet. As a child you are not bothered by such information. You are more alarmed to find a witchy green crisp lurking in the shadowy depths of the packet, or too busy concentrating on sticking a Hula Hoop on every finger, or licking the foil wrapper for lingering salty-vinegariness, as it is technically known among playground aficionados.”

The actual results of the challenge are a little less fun to me than the buildup, though mostly because none of my personal favourites (Kettle Chips salsa & mesquite, Marks & Spencers spring onion, Walkers Sensations Thai sweet chilli) were contenders. Your mileage may vary.

I still have beautiful memories of late night essay-writing breaks in university – putting on some appropriately ear-destroying music, sipping my 8-sugars-a-can Coke and finally, biting into a crisp and savouring the explosion of ill-health in my system. As Jay Rayner, the Observer’s restaurant critic, so rightly commented in his rating of Walkers Salt & Shake, “Anyone who doesn’t want salt on their crisps is no friend of mine.”


  1. OK Daryl, you win! Just thinking about adding sugar to Coke makes my teeth ache. But please tell me you wouldn’t add it to PEPSI?!!

  2. omg, add sugar to coke!? And I thought I had a sweet tooth!

    augh, craving walker’s thai sweet chilli crisps so badly right now.

  3. No salt and vinegar amongst your favourites? Blasphemy! After cream tea, salt and vinegar is Britain’s greatest contribution to the world of cuisine.

  4. Oops, sorry ci’en. :P

    Jol: For some reason, I’ve always preferred salt and vinegar on chips rather than crisps. I like the way I get a soft soggy vinegar-imbued mass of chip which still has some potato flavour along with the vinegar. I can still enjoy salt and vinegar crisps but the crisps have to be good quality ones where I can taste the potato.

    As for British contributions to cuisine, I’m not actually that fond of cream teas (not generally into pastries unfortunately) so my top 3 would be chicken tikka masala, Worcestershire sauce and (I can’t believe I Googled this to make sure I was right about its origins) pork scratchings.

  5. I’m a strange one. Don’t like crisps at all.

    However my former workmates will doubtlessly be distressed about Golden Wonder going into administration. Several of them lived on Nic Nacs.

  6. Crisps? Pfft. Down here in the ‘hood we eat dried chilli cuttlefish. Leaves your breath fresh with the smell of damp shoes.

  7. I heard about that Benny. They tell me people in your ‘hood use the dried cuttlefish as breath fresheners.

  8. Indeed we do. That’s how we roll down here in the ‘hood.

    For some reason it ain’t working on them ho’s though. Not enough chilli perhaps.

  9. mich: Oh, I used to add sugar to Pepsi as well. Is Pepsi sweeter? They have the same amount of calories… it’s just that Pepsi’s taste is somewhat lighter, so you are more aware of the sugar.

    Actually, I think a significant portion of my caloric intake daily is from Pepsi and Coke.

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