Friday, December 27, 2013

Pringles: An After-Dinner Chip?

Parents charged to pack their brood's bag lunches have relied on standard Pringles in the red can for several generations. With a uniform, oval-shaped design and a just-right crunch, the uniquely salty chips remain a fine complement to peanut butter and turkey sandwiches alike. Subsequent varieties such as Sour Cream And Onion, Tasty Bacon and Ranch have kept the pace with children's ever-advancing palates. Most kids would administer high marks to the various types of Pringles. For the holiday season, three different flavors of dessert-style chips have joined their famous relatives on supermarket shelves. Would the same youngsters give glowing grades to the latest batch of limited- editions? I'll let the students enjoy their break from school and nominate myself as the red-penned taste tester. Let's hope my fever for the flavor of a Pringles doesn't put me in a saturated coma.

After weeks of searching at Food Lion and Farm Fresh, I finally found a can of the chips that would lead to this assignment: Pecan Pie. When I first saw a picture of the peculiar Pringles posted on Facebook, my initial reaction mirrored those from many consumers: "GROSS!" Sure, I love a slice of pecan pie with whipped topping as much as any diner, but the thought of that taste in a potato chip was rather unsettling. Peeling back the flavor seal, I took my first few bites. The unwarranted "GROSS!" from pre-trial became, "Hey, these aren't too bad." Indeed, the pleasantries of pecan pie were evident from the jump. The saltiness of simulated nuts blended well with the chips' sodium content, while the backing of dried molasses sold the pastry-in-a-can pitch. I'm not one of those dipping- fries-in-a-Frosty dudes, so the urge to coat Pringles in Cool Whip was kept in the closet. Had I ended the test after fifteen chips or so, the surprising mark would've been a "B." Emptying the can in one session, however, resulted in food fatigue. Those last few Pringles hit my tongue like someone had poured a packet of maple syrup onto each one. Heavy, man. Which is why I have to lower the count to a B-minus.

In a parlor game of oxymorons, "white chocolate" would probably be referenced within your assistant supervisor's third sip of non-alcoholic beer. Maybe he or she has made a pretty ugly scene in the recent past by attempting to put away four dozen jumbo shrimp served over dry ice before the end of happy hour. White Chocolate Pringles, huh? Was the Veggie Burger brand deep-sixed? Compared to the first chomps of these crisps, a plain Boca on a bun seemed like an exciting endeavor. Sure, the familiar Pringles lines were on the sheet, but a faint footnote of Nestle Quik somehow managed to sabotage the script. Who let that cartoon rabbit on the set, and why's he so stingy with the spoonfuls? I mean, Wavy Lay's drenched one of its products in enough good stuff to make Willy Wonka wave the white flag. Less than twenty chips into the test, the can was almost placed in the 13th file and a grade of "D" (for dull) was recorded. Three days later, that mark was amended to a "C." Why? The White Chocolate Pringles became a bit more daring in the second stage of trials and transformed into its alter-ego: Dark Vanilla. Armed with less than 2% of Sweet Cream Powder, the can donned its "P" cape and paraphrased Mighty Mouse-via-Andy Kaufman's clarion call: "Here I come, and I'm OK." Sound the silent alarm. White Chocolate/Dark Vanilla is OK by me.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch? One of the greatest cereals that's ever been poured into a bowl. Cinnamon Twists? A fine addition to any "fourth meal" from Taco Bell. Cinnamon & Sugar Pringles? Not in the same class with the other two, but its potential for greatness was evident on every chip. Much like the breakfast treat, each crisp was sweetened by obvious sprinkles of cinnamon. True, the cereal and twists had a greater proportion of spice than the Pringles, but there was certainly enough dusting to satisfy most snackers. You certainly wouldn't serve Cinnamon & Sugar Pringles over milk, but a glass of moo juice with the chips should curb children's after-school cravings. (This might be the first time I've endorsed drinking milk. Personally, I only use it to keep cereal wet. Last night, I chugged Coca-Cola with the crisps.) Due to a better balance of ingredients, it was easier to slam a six-stack of Cinnamon & Sugar Pringles than the other dessert choices. I got to the bottom of this can with relative ease. I'm bestowing a "B" upon these chips.

Was I too generous with grading for the seasonal selections? Perhaps. Since I'm not the kind of teacher who likes failing a kid on the day after Christmas, I used a liberal scoring system. Also, Pecan Pie Pringles threatened to purposely fail its upcoming Standards of Learning (SOL) test, thus putting the school's accreditation in jeopardy. I know how the game is played, PP. Hope you had a Merry Crispmas!

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