Photo by Kat Kinsman

Eh.

Kat Kinsman
May 03, 2018

It's hard out here in the breakfast journalism streets. If a food possesses the faintest whiff of pancakes, waffles, eggs, orange juice, bloody mary, cereal, bacon, or syrup, it is my colleagues' and my duty to investigate it, whether we would normally wish to or not. On a recent trip to Toronto, I came upon potato chips flavored with the latter two and bedecked with an illustration of a dripping stack of pancakes, so it was my professional obligation to purchase and assess them.

If they were the only edible Canadiana I had been schlepping back from the north, this would have been a much easier task, but when I grocery shop in a foreign land, I lean fully into my American impulse to go to excess. Basically, I came back with a crapload of Canadian ketchup-flavored and all-dressed potato chips, six kinds of Canadian butter, maple syrup (it's the law), Hawkins Cheezies, cretons, a Coffee Crisp bar, Rosen's cinnamon bun spread, Kozlik's mustard, May West and Joe Louis snack cakes, and all kinds of body care products that the FDA doesn't see fit to approve for the US market. It was my pleasure to declare all of this at the Customs desk. It is my slight regret that I wasted the space for the Kettle Brand maple bacon potato chips and didn't haul back more ketchup-flavored Lays.

They're fine. Just fine. I'm not mad at them, just disappointed—mostly in myself for getting caught up in the moment and not doing my due breakfast diligence. I gathered after the fact that they're available in the States as well, and they're not especially new, but I am eternally delighted by dual-language packaging (croustilles! bacon à l'erable!), and I hadn't actually seen them on shelves before, so they were new to me. I lead with my stomach sometimes rather than my head, and that's usually OK.

In this case, though, my mouth was let down. Not by the texture—not at all. I tend to be a Kettle Brand fangirl, due in large part to their chips' consistently sturdy crunch. It was the flavor, which was by all assessments by my colleagues and me, just like a sweeter barbecue chip, without a substantial enough bite of salt. The bacon was more pronounced on subsequent bites, but in a way that emphasized the unfortunate rancid note that pork fat can take on—which is weird, seeing as there's no pork fat listed as an ingredient in these chips. There is, however, maple sugar, salt, cane sugar, dried molasses, spice, and "natural flavours" including smoke.

You're freaking Canada, known the world over for your maple syrup and namesake bacon, so make sure it leans the h-e-double-hockey-sticks into that if you're gonna bother to have it plastered on the bag in two separate languages, otherwise don't let it over your border. I'm coming back for the rest of your Old Dutch all dressed chips to make up for it, and I'm not the least bit sorry.

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