You may not have noticed, but chips have been present in some way at every point of life. There was probably a bowl of chips at your first Disney-themed birthday party, and there’s probably a bag hidden somewhere in your office breakroom right now (no judgment)…
Recent years have seen an explosion in experimental cuisine; chefs are now working with flavours and ingredients that would have never made it past a butcher’s scrap table and elevating them to new culinary heights. With a big emphasis on comfort food, the humble potato chip has also experienced a kind of transformation.
Although chips may not necessarily be a work of culinary mastery (depending on who you ask), there are some clear parallels with regards to experimentation in the restaurant and snack food markets in North America.
Many of us still fondly remember homegrown chip brand Hostess. Known for being the Canadian chip purveyor of choice until the early ’90s, Hostess made a brief foray into the wacky chip world by selling chips with fruit flavours including grape, orange and cherry, which to no one’s surprise, were not a big success. Despite this minor mishap, Hostess did go on to introduce and popularize many of the once avante garde flavours we have come to love today, such as sour cream and onion and the beloved ketchup.
Like many Canadian brands, Hostess was snapped up by Frito-Lay, which is now a division of PepsiCo Foods Canada.
While Hostess may not necessarily exist in original form, its legacy as a flavour innovator is still visible today. It seems everything always comes full circle, and the snack food industry is no exception.
In true 21st century form, Lay’s conducted a Canada-wide crowd-sourcing competition of sorts for a brand new original chip flavour. With the likes of Creamy Garlic Caesar, Grilled Cheese and Ketchup, Maple Moose and Perogy Platter gracing the shelves right now, it’s pretty safe to say that creativity and chips will forever be inextricably linked.