Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Gotta Get At This (or not): Lay's USA Air pOps, Walkers UK pOps, and Lay's South Africa pOpped; plus a crash course in Air Popped Chips

With South Africa releasing the "pOpped" line and the UK releasing their own "pOps" line... I figured it was time to talk about our newly repackaged line of Lay's "Air pOps" and what the heck an Air Popped Chip actually is.

So to begin, here's the glamour shots...

The "pOpped" collection from South Africa in "Peri Peri Prawn", "Hot & Tangy Piquante Pepper", and "White Cheddar & Spring Onion".

The UK's Walkers' line called "pOps" featuring "Prawn Cocktail", "Melted Cheese & Crispy Bacon", "Original", and "Sour Cream & Onion".
And lastly, the lovely new packaging on the US's "air pOps", which come in "Sour Cream & Onion, "Original", "Barbeque", and "Salt & Vinegar".

So, what are air-popped chips and why are these collections pOpping up everywhere?
Air-popped chips are made in the EXACT same way rice cakes are made. Instead of grains of rice; lumps of potato flakes and starch are hydrated, pressurized, heated, depressurized, and then they fuse together. Presto! No need to fry, or bake, or anything. And while that leaves you with a chip that is 50% less fattening when compared to traditional chips, it also leaves you with a chip that strangely tastes exactly like a rice cake. And honestly, when compared to other reduced fat options, there are definitely tastier alternatives out there.
So, why are they so popular? In 2007, "Popchips" hit the market and quickly became a major competitor in the US potato chip market. The company had great packaging, loads of advertising, celebrity endorsers, and a healthier product. Not to mention a range that includes at least 7 flavors, 3 tortilla chips offerings, and some veggie chips. The company single-handedly created a niche market within chips. Brands like "Popcorners"and "Special K" followed the puffed chip fad, and it eventually led to Lay's introducing their own "air pOps". "air pOps" has done well, with the line even expanding to include another flavor. So it's no surprise that the line is appearing in countries like the Netherlands, the UK, and South Africa now.

But, is this a genuine potato chip? In my opinion, much like Pringles (or Lay's Stax) uses potato flakes and starch to manufacture their chips that aren't really chips; air-popped chips are not really chips. They are a potato snack alternative. BUT while Pringles and Stax at least pack tons of potato flavor, Popchips and Air pOps taste exactly like the name suggests... AIR.
To me, the flavor is the most important thing, and these air-popped chips are not even in the same league as traditional chips when it comes to flavor. Let's keep it REAL, if you are eating puffed up potato chips with little nutritional value and loads of sodium to save a few calories, then your eating habits are already FKD up. You are NOT going to lose weight eating salted potato puffs. Sorry. (#SorryNotSorry). Potato chips are a treat, a treat that should be eaten in moderation. When it's time for my treat, on the occasion that I'm going to indulge in potato chips, I want them to taste AWESOME. I don't want to eat chips that remind me of the real chips that I'm not eating. And I paid for too much school to be fooled into thinking that if I eat a bag of fake chips every day at lunch, that it will equate to the wonderful occasional joy of eating real potato chips.

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