It’s been a while since I’ve written about a real world snack.  And by real world I don’t mean Puck’s new line of Finger Dippin’ Peanut Butters or Mike’s Race Car Ranch Dressing.

I mean a snack that:

  1. doesn’t have any kind of pop culture connection
  2. wasn’t purchased at a theme park
  3. isn’t decades beyond its sell by date

You know, a snack that I found like at a store where normal people buy food.  I used my eyes to spot it and then my hands to pick it up and carry it to the register where I paid for it with paper money.  The old fashioned way like they used to do it in Back to the Future Part III.

It’s becoming increasingly rare for me to go out snackspotting, mostly because the unusual (or downright ridiculous) things that inspire me these days can only be found in the deepest recesses of the web.  Sure, there’s that whole being disgusted by the diseased, ill-mannered, huddled masses thing I’ve got going, but at most that’s like 30% of the equation.  At most.

But I recently headed down to the local Starbucks for a little quiet reading time with the classics (the memoirs of Nitro the American Gladiator).  I was forced to take my car despite it being within relative walking distance.

I live in St. Petersburg, Florida, you see.  It’s not exactly a pedestrian friendly city.  If you’ve read Fahrenheit 451 and remember the scene towards the end of the book where Montag is walking across that ten lane road and people are trying to run him over in their jetcars, it’s kind of like that.  But worse.

I noticed that my gas gauge was reading well below the empty line as it always does, so I was forced to stop at 7-11 to fill her up (to three-eighths of a tank).  Feeling adventurous and steeling myself for any night mutant contact I might have, I ventured inside.  As soon as I passed under the surly gaze of the register jockey, I noticed these Ruffles Crispy Fries.  I knew they were new because they said “new” right on the display and everything.  I majored in English, you guys, so I’m pretty good with words.  Just saying.

Ruffles Crispy Fries currently come in two varieties: Original and Cheese.  Not sure how there can be an Original flavor if the two items were released simultaneously.  I guess Original is modeled on the original Ruffles flavor.  Really we have Plain and Cheese.

The back of the bag claims to have settled an age old problem. “Chips or fries? The timeless struggle, the eternal choice. Good news, champ, the correct answer is ‘both.’”

First of all, sorry to any UK or Australian consumers for that very confusing sentence.

Secondly, sorry Ruffles.  No one is being faced with a choice between fries and chips.  Certainly not in a grocery store as these are not mutually exclusive items.  Certainly not in their homes as one is readily available in their pantry for immediate consumption and the other requires, at the very least, a microwave.  And if you show me a restaurant that is serving chips instead of fries (sadly it happens), then I’ll show you a restaurant to which I shan’t be returning.

Here is what we have with Crispy Fries.  Someone at Ruffles decided they wanted a new product with minimal effort (or just their own version of Potato Stix).  So instead of designing from the ground up, they went to the factory and changed the potato cutting robot to cut fry shapes instead of chip shapes.

The Original Crispy Fries do indeed taste like the original Ruffles potato chips.  They have the same salty goodness, but with slightly more potato heft and a different taste progression.  The salt hits heavy on the tongue but quickly gives way to a more robust potato flavor.  Which makes sense as there is less surface area for salt delivery.  They were enjoyable.

The Cheese Crispy Fries taste like the Ruffles Sour Cream and Cheddar chips.  Their taste progression worked better than the original.  The Cheese coating covered more of the chip than did the salt in the Original, so the melding of flavors carried through from beginning to end.  They were slightly better.

The bags also recommend warming the fries up in the microwave for 30 seconds.  I gave it a try and they were also enjoyable, though with the added warmth I started to crave actual French fries.

These aren’t very inspired.  They aren’t going to change your world outlook.  If you like Original or Sour Cream and Cheddar Ruffles, you will like these.  They’re different enough from their flatter counterparts to warrant a try in the name of curiosity.  However, I don’t think they’re different enough to earn their own permanent place in the Ruffles lineup, so enjoy while you can before they’re replaced with Ruffles’ all new line of Medium Thickness Crackle Cut Rhombus Crunchers!  In stores this summer!