It seems like it was only a few years ago that the coveted sweet potato chip was something you could only find made by small batch specialty companies like Route 11. These days, thanks to the likes of UTZ and the boom of the natural snack industry, it’s pretty much impossible to walk into any grocery store and not find some take on a fried sweet potato snack. But sweet potato corn chips? That’s the kind of thing you’ve got to look in Big Lots for.
Garden of Eatin’ makes some solid corn chips as far as I’m concerned (respect for anyone cooking up con Blue Corn) but their website seems thin on the details of these corn and sweet potato based chips. I wasn’t sure what to expect after seeing a bag in Big Lots a few weeks ago, but given my fault of absolutely having to buy anything sweet potato based, I decided to give them a shot.
As someone who puts copious amounts of high fructose corn syrup, sucralose, and the occasional partially hydrogenated oil molecule into my bloodstream, I could honestly care less that these are organic. Nor do I care that they’re gluten-free, which apparently has become all the rage these days. What I care about is that they’re a worthwhile take on sweet potato chips, and don’t come out burnt like the chips from Terra Exotics.
The texture is somewhat weird. The chips flake quite easily, and aside from the orange hue, more or less pass as corn chips. They do however display quite a bit of crunchy sugar granules on the surface, which give an odd contrast to the blackened spots you usually find on corn chips. Few come out as completely intact triangles, instead displaying a battered chipping (no pun intended) as the pyramidal object shows.
The initial taste is pure corn chip, albeit with a cinnamon-sugar sweetness. The corn has a strong toasted flavor, but the contrast in sweet and salty doesn’t seem as natural as plain old corn nut chips and chocolate chips (take my word for it, an addicting combo!) The chips themselves don’t have the usually strong crunch you associate with pure corn chips, and you can tell there’s some starchy element in there which has kept them from being as sturdy as you’d like. The sweet potato taste is there, but it’s neither earthy nor caramelized, spicy or intense. It comes together better when you eat several chips at a time, but it’s nowhere near the near flawless execution of the UTZ Sweet Potato Kettle Chips I’ve grown to love.
It’s interesting that the Garden of Eatin’ folks didn’t look to use the smokey backheat of chipotles in the seasoning blend, and I’m kind of at a loss why they wouldn’t. It seems a natural fit given that chipotle has been employed in both chips and sweet potato fry applications, and given the otherwise disjointed flavors of the chip, it would make a good bridge in flavor profiles. As it stands though, this is a corn chip at odds with itself. Too sweet to dunk in salsa, but too corney to eat unadorned like a regular sweet potato chip, its best use may be providing an accurate representation of how the Pyramids of Giza would look if dusted in cheeto powder.
- Price: $1.05 (Big Lots)
- Ranking: 5/10
- Chances I’d Buy Again: 15%