Well, well, well. I had always crossed my fingers in the hopes that this day would come. I’d picked up pennies off the sidewalk, wished on a thousand stars, chucked spare change at people painted like statues in the park (that IS how you get extra wishes, right?) and turned in Lucky the Leprechaun to the FBI. And damn it, it all paid off.
Japan, your time has come.
On one or six occasions, I’ve professed my adoration for the whacky world of Asian chips and snacks and have yearned, pleaded, for these flavors to infiltrate the American market. Because since when did “lightly salted” started passing as a flavor? These flavors make my eyes glow with excitement and an underlying loathing for the pedestrian palates of my peers. It’s funny, though, with Frito Lay’s close involvement in the Asian snack market, I never thought that the progression would come from a decidedly New England-centric company, Herr’s. And what a seasonally appropriate flavor, too. Fire-roasted sweet corn. With every adjective comes an expectation. The question is, will the chips deliver?
Well, let’s start with the basics. The chips look innocuous. They’re feverishly endorsed on the back of the bag, all but promising you the lively conversation and eventual politically-fueled screaming matches that all backyard barbecues descend to after a period of time. And they smell. What do they smell like? Popcorn oil butter candy. Potato lies somewhere under summer’s perfume. The chips are the standard, oversized, high-quality ridges Herr’s regularly puts out. They have a soft, yielding crunch and don’t absorb too much grease.
The flavor can be best described as inspired by Inception. It’s butter in an ear of corn inside a potato chip inside a dream. Okay, more like a nightmare. While I can’t completely discount them for screwing up a flavor only the Japanese have managed to master, the overwhelming consensus is that these are more than a little unappetizing. And yet we can’t stop eating them. The flavor is spot-on. It’s so bad, it’s good, because there are three very familiar flavors in one bite and they come in distinct phases. First, that overly sweet canned corn element, then a cloying buttered popcorn greasiness, and lastly, a distinctly smoky barbecue note. Freaking strange, man. It’s like taking a dog and putting it in a cat costume. Somewhat the same, and somewhat familiar, but…not.
We like them anyway.