Should have been looking in Medomsley Road, Consett. All of which to say in one of the many think-tank like* editorial meetings of the FreakyTrigger collective last Friday it suddenly hit us: Phileas Fogg Tortilla Chips are no more. We all checked out snacking memories as to the last time we had seen a packet, and we guessed some time in 2004 in a Sam Smith’s pub. By then they had rebranded as some sort of sex tourism snack, which despite introducing some great new flavours, was a bit of a disaster from a rebrand perspective. Indeed it was this redesign that we assumed sunk the brand in a world: which seemed sad in a world overflowing with snacking opportunities that the British originator of the posh snack had fallen out of favour. Could it be that this most worldly of snack, with its amusing little stories and many fine personal memories**, was no more?
However eagle-eyed FT report Cis saw a packet in Oxford this week and reports thusly:
Yesterday I was in one of walton street’s many posho delis and saw a pack of Phileas Fogg crisps! they are rebranded utterly, these ones were called ‘cool casa tortillas’ and in a powder blue packet, it seemed rank foolishness given that surely the concept-grouping of cool/blue/tortilla belongs in the public heart to dorito’s. Also how on earth can you pretend that ‘tortilla’-style
crisps are classy?
Cis is young, and so first I will deal with the two points she brings up at the end. Tortilla Chips ARE CLASSY. Or at least were classy when Phileas Fogg introduced them in the mid-eighties. Their sort had not been seen before in the UK. The 1980’s were a nachos free zone, which Fogg helped change. As for you blue = cool blue Doritos, well unfrotunately Fogg beat them to it. Fogg used to do three types of tortilla: Original (a bit spicy, in the classic biege packet), then joined by Devilishly Hot (black packet), and a Thankfully Cool Tortilla (powder blue packet – as seen here). So their blue predates the Doritos Blue in the UK. (For a summary of many of the old packs, and stories look here, but note the lack of Devilishly Hot Tortillas which suggests this site is not quite as complete as one might hope***).
But the excitement comes from the fact that Fogg is not dead. Its a bit like waiting to hear news from a traveller, long assumed lost, only yo find him turning up on time. Or is it. A quick look at the new website for Phileas Fogg shows a dispiriting sight. Namely this new rebrand came out in the summer of last year. They have correctly tried to distance themselve from their previous “backpacker” rebrand, to something a bit more timeless, semi-pastels but with a top hatted gentleman in view. But this rebrand took place six months ago, and I have not seen a packet in London. Good to see though that it appears the trips are back, as are the diary entries which can all be perused on the website. And in what seems to be the strangest boutique gift ever, you can even get a gift presentation pack of all seven of the new flavours..
Those flavours in full:
Spikin Lime Tortillas
Cool Casa Tortillas
Chili con Queso Tortillas
Kalonji Seed Poppadoms
Brie and Onion Toasts
Black Olive & Pesto Crostini
At least they are still made in Medomsley Road, Consett! Rightly identified as one of the UK most famous addresses. Go forth snack children, and find them.
*I assume most think tanks are just excuses to go to the pub.
**One of my most cherished memories involves me trying to find a non-alcoholic way of celebrating my A-Level results, having been phoned by a teacher at 8:30 in the morning. I found myself at the local Co-op, buyiong a pack of the Devilishly Hot Tortilla chips, and wandering up and down the High Street in a haze of achievement and a slightly burnt and over-salted mouth.
***It appears that a completely different rebrand exists in Ireland, and Devilishly Hot are still availible there.