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Taste Test: The Best Potato Chips

We taste-tested dozens of potato chips from the grocery store and online to see which are worth their salt to become our favorites.
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potato chips

BEST OVERALL

North Fork

Among the classic salted potato chips, one batch stood out from the rest. North Fork's plain chips "look like they aren't made in a factory" and "appear dirty -- in a good way," according to tasters. The panel also praised the crunch: "These babies make noise." Martin and Carol Sidor started making the golden kettle chips three years ago on their 150-acre Long Island farm, and since then, sales have tripled: A staff of five now produces more than 200,000 bags a year. ($2.25 for a 6-ounce bag, northforkchips.com, 631-734-2243)

BEST BARBECUE

Mike-sell's Kettle Cooked Bold Bahama Barbecue

A 96-year-old purveyor blew away 31 competitors in the barbecue category with these Caribbean-inspired chips, cooked in peanut oil. Our tasters loved the "rustic, burntorange" color, serious crunch and unique spicy-sweet flavor, but they couldn't agree on exactly what they were tasting. Correct answer: molasses, allspice, chile pepper, lime and rum. ($3 for a 9-ounce bag, mike-sells.com, 937-228-9400)

BEST SOUR CREAM AND ONION

Ruffles Sour Cream & Onion

We tasted several variations on this classic flavor -- including one yogurt and chive version -- but the supermarket staple Ruffles came out on top for its "classic sour cream and onion taste." Panelists appreciated the slight crunch and the balance of sweet and salty flavors; one judge said the chips taste "like chicken soup." ($3.20 for an 11.5-ounce bag, at grocery stores)

BEST SALT AND VINEGAR

Better Made Salt & Vinegar

We thought less would be more; vinegar can be overpowering. But our tasters were drawn to these intensely flavored chips, saying they "pack some serious pucker power." Tasters also praised the 76-year-old Detroit manufacturer for slicing the chips just right: "They're not too thick or too thin." ($12 for four 11.75-ounce bags, bettermadepotatochips.com)

BEST SALT AND PEPPER

Utz Salt & Pepper

This flavor is a relative newcomer in the snack aisle -- Utz introduced it in 2002, after 81 years in the business. You can find other, fancier varieties, made with sea salt and specialty peppercorns, but Utz wowed our tasters with "simple fresh pepper flavor" and an even distribution of flecks. Panelists praised the delicate texture, too; the chips "shatter when they hit your tongue." ($3 for an 11-ounce bag, utzsnacks.com, 888-744-7889)

BEST ODDBALL

Old Dutch Dill Pickle

We tried chips flavored with bacon, ginger, mustard, ketchup and Thai spices, but these tickled our taste buds more than any other wacky flavor. We're not alone: Dill Pickle is Old Dutch's top-selling flavor (out of 23). Described by our tasters as "refreshing" and "tangy but not overwhelming," they taste "like chips that have been soaking in pickle juice on your plate -- but with a crunch!" ($3 for an 11-ounce bag, olddutchfoods.com, 800-989-2447)

Prices and other details were accurate when we published this article in February 2007.

 

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