You say "po-tay-to," I say "poh-tah-to." Or maybe: We Americans say "potato chips," and those across the pond say "crisps." On a recent trip abroad, I found myself just as fascinated with the snack aisles in convenience and grocery stores as I was with the artwork in some museums.
And why not? The snack flavors with which countries such as England, France, Iceland and Wales stock their shelves are crazily creative. I regret now that I can't offer up taste reviews, but I guess I was too busy photographing all the tastes to actually munch on most of them.
It wasn't just plain old potato chips/crisps, either. I spotted flavors of Cheetos that I don't think we have here at home. (Paprika! Pizza!) Same for Pringles. (Emmental cheese!) There's a baked corn snack called Monster Munch with a Muppet-like character on the bag.
Sure, they're all junk food, but it's entertaining to learn about a culture through its snacks, whether packaged crunchables, beverages or something else. My purely unscientific research indicates that Canadians love ketchup-flavored chips, the Brits have the most marshmallow candy, and the French love mojito-flavored beverages.
After a while, our American standards, such as sour cream and onion and barbecue, started to look just plain ordinary. But maybe our tastes seem super-exotic to, say, the Welsh, who might find roast ox-flavored crisps a bit mundane. And yes, that's a real flavor I saw in Cardiff. Take a tasty trip around the world with us and ogle at these 15 international potato chip flavors we long to try. Photos Modfied: istockphoto.com
I thought we Americans loved bacon more than any other culture, but noooo. I believe I saw bacon-flavored salty snacks in every country we visited, from Iceland to France. There were even varieties within the bacon umbrella, from smoky bacon to maple bacon. No one tell Miss Piggy! KP Snacks
These sound delightfully fancy and snooty. If there was one chip that the Dowager Countess on "Downton Abbey" might eat, it might be these. It's hard to even say the word "Camembert" without sounding like you own a yacht. Tesco
America makes the best cheeseburgers, and I will not tolerate any dissent on that fact. But do we have cheeseburger potato chips? Maybe? Probably? I spotted them in numerous European countries, both in rippled and plain form. It still doesn't make up for their sub-par actual cheeseburgers. PepsiCo
Cheese and Onion
There are cheese-flavored chips, there are onion-flavored chips, so why not cheese onion chips? Mix these with the cheeseburger chips and it's kind of a full meal deal. PepsiCo
Chili Cream Cheese
Sometimes the chip flavors just felt like a person in flavor development had thrown a lot of food names into a hat, drawn out two random ones, and Scotch-taped the flavors together. That might be how you get chili-cream cheese chips. Courtesy of Orkla Confectionery & Snacks
Hot Chicken Wings
I love hot chicken wings. The hotter the better (my husband and I played wing roulette at Nando's in Cardiff, ordering a platter of differently spiced wings, not knowing which was which). The only thing these chips are missing is a side of blue cheese and a stack of celery. PepsiCo
Ost og Løk
I loved visiting Iceland, with its friendly people, magical Blue Lagoon and nationwide small-town feel. But the language often mystified me, especially when I saw "ost & løk" chips. I thought løk might mean lox (I was wrong) and had no clue on ost. Or maybe it was just an Icelandic comedy duo, like the Laurel and Hardy of Reykjavik, and this is their favorite flavor of chip? Turns out they're just cheese and onion chips made by a Norwegian company. Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/The Daily Meal
Paprika to me is a ground red spice I keep in a drawer and use in goulash. But in the world of European potato chips, it's right up there with cheese or bacon as an uber-popular flavoring. I saw it on Cheetos and regular chips alike. Hey, Cheetos already color your fingers orange; I assume this just makes them red instead. PepsiCo
Sea Salt and Cider Vinegar
Europe uses much more vinegar in regular old snacks than we do. I spotted plenty of balsamic vinegar-flavored items, which made me want to move there and just snack all day. Cider vinegar was less of a draw for me. Even now as I'm writing this, my mouth is involuntarily puckering. Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/The Daily Meal
Texas BBQ Sauce Pringles
I spotted these at a small London grocery store right by Harrod's, 5,000 miles from the Lone Star State. Somehow I do not think the Texans I know would have recognized the flavor of these Texas BBQ Sauce Pringles. But then again, I've been puzzled by the blandness of Mexican food in Japan and confused by the décor of an American-style bar in Dublin. We all take from our neighbors what we think they like, and then run it through our own national filters. Pringles
So let me get this straight: Potato chips are crisps in England, but french fries are chips. But on this bag I found in Liverpool, home of the Beatles, these are really chips, but cut like French fries, not called chips or crisps, and flavored with... Worcestershire sauce? I don't get it, but really, the Fab Four said it best: Let it be. PepsiCo
Some of the snacks just brought a giant smile to my face. I saw caviar-flavored chips in Paris, naturellement, and they seemed like the punchline to a joke about the French that my dad might have told in the 1960s. "Bernie, I tell ya, they probably got caviar-flavored potato chips over there." Courtesy of Torres
Even though I grew up on a Minnesota farm, my main association with oxen is from "Little House on the Prairie." I sure don't know what they taste like, and from this bag, I wonder if the company does, either. Instead of an ox on the bag, there's a guy making ox horns with his fingers. It makes me think I will never be drunk enough to eat ox chips. Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/The Daily Meal
The dish Welsh rarebit is a great way to use up bits and ends of cheese, because you make a savory cheese sauce and pour it over toasted bread. Despite its original spelling, "Welsh rabbit," it contains no rabbit, and for that, Bugs Bunny is thankful. M&S
As we wandered England, we spotted plenty of Walkers Crisps celebrating the company's 70th anniversary with "flavors of the decade." Cheese Fondue for the 1970s? Perfection. BBQ Rib for the 1990s and Sweet Chili for the 2000s? Sure, why not? I was less sure about Roast Lamb and Mint for the 1960s and Chicken Tikka Masala for the 1980s, but I guess those dishes did rise in popularity then. But my favorite was the 1950s selection, Coronation Chicken, based on a cold chicken and curry sauce dish served to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953. I don't think I'd like it either as a meal or as a chip, but that said - Rule, Brittania! Perhaps in the future we'll see more crisp flavors based on what the royal family eats.
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