This is where I compare and contrast, because next out of the packet are two flavours which sit in natural opposition, occupying different ends of the taste spectrum. Does either of them succeed, then?
To some observers, Chilli & Chocolate was the most interesting flavour idea of the original six — one of the few that hadn’t been done before in some guise. Of course, the reason for that should surely be obvious: crisps are an inherently salty food, and chocolate isn’t. So how this might work out is the issue under consideration. As the blurb on the back says, it “sounds crazy, but is so TASTY! And as Catherine ['from High Wycombe', the 'creator' of this flavour] rightly points out, what more do you want from a bag of our crisps?!” If it provided what is modestly promised, then that question might remain unanswered. But it doesn’t, and it won’t. I would like some more flavour, please.
To be fair, there’s no shortchanging with the chilli. The problem is the chocolate: the flavour is too subtle. And depending on which pack you’re eating, you may get an intense hit of chilli with nothing else, or you may notice a bit of the chocolate. The ones I had at home were very much chilli dominated, but when I ate some that a work colleague bought, the chocolate was more noticeable. That’s part of the problem, though. The balance is such a precarious one that there’s no guarantee you’ll get anything more than just chilli, and we’ve got enough choice of good chilli-flavoured crisps already (Walkers’ own Thai Sweet Chilli is pretty decent on that front).
A more sensible match to the crisp form is thus surely Fish & Chips. After all, a salty and partially potato-based staple of British cuisine would surely lend itself well to a salty potato snack? And the thing Walkers are hoping to discover with this competition — a strong and distinctive flavour that can hold up to the classics like salt & vinegar — must surely be in the offing?
Well, no. There is nothing that can prepare you for the supreme foulness that is Fish & Chips flavour crisps. I speak, admittedly, as a vegetarian, but as one with fond memories (and occasional wistful daydreams) of a good fish and chips. This flavour, however, is only destined to haunt my nightmares, and I wonder — because I like a narrative which is neatly wrapped up — whether that can be blamed on the vegetarian-friendly seasoning that is used to create this flavour. Probably not, though. Fish is just too overwhelming a flavour.
Both, then, in their different ways, manage to fail — spectacularly so in the latter case, in this reviewer’s opinion. Not only would I not order these crisps, but if they fetched up in front of me in the pub, I wouldn’t eat them.