Taste Test: Tortilla Chips

Image credit: Jessie Mathewson

It’s week one and having some semblance of a social life still looks like a real possibility, so you decide to have people over in the evening. You need snacks, and somewhere between the constant offerings of port and of fancy tiny foods by your College you crave normalcy, so you go for crisps. Perhaps tortilla crisps, because you can never go wrong with those. They go with everything – salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole, homemade cheese sauce (milk, cheddar, flour, butter - trust me), and even hummus if you’re weird like that.

To aid the choosing process (I know, dear readers, that you were losing sleep over this) I conducted a "scientific" double-blind taste test, sampling tortilla crisps from a range of sources – classic Doritos, the often over the top Marks and Spencer, and the Sainsbury’s Basics. Scientifically speaking, what you look for when tasting crisps are three vital things - the crunch factor, the texture, and the flavouring.

Doritos are hands down awful. When you first bite in, the crunch is misleadingly good, but once I kept going I slowly began to realise how odd the texture of the crisp was. The flavouring somehow rests on top of the surface of the crisp, and no matter what type of Doritos you’ve gone for you come away with a weird powdery after-flavour.

Destitute from my Doritos experience, I was grateful to be able to taste some plain salted tortilla crisps. I was given both the Marks and Spencer tortilla crisps and the Sainsbury’s Basics (this is where the double-blind part comes in) and honestly, they were both fabulous: I couldn’t differentiate. Excellent crunch, an appropriately bumpy texture, and a degree of salt that is definitely unhealthy but also infinitely delicious. The difference here is simply price. M & S does the trick but with a hefty £1 label attached. Basics sweeps the table clean at 60p, the ultimate bargain.

True, M & S also does ‘interesting’ flavours and ‘scoop shaped’ crisps, but if I’ve learned anything from my twenty years of existence it is this - a tortilla is the spoon of the crisp world. Don’t get caught up in the funky flavours you find on the shelves. Don’t get bogged down by branding. Go classic, simple salted. Let your choice of dip define the evening.

To sum up:

Doritos: 5/10. Would have been lower but they're owned by PepsiCo and I don't want to get on the wrong side of the capitalist mafia

Marks and Spencer: 6/10. The price brings it down, they would admittedly be closer to an 8 if you were middle-aged and had dinner party guests to impress.

Sainsbury's Basics: 8.5. Does well for looks and personality/taste and price.

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