“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.”