Everyone who knows me will confirm that I am a lover of crisps (in Germany crisps are actually called chips, and we call chips pommes or fries) but I think I have never eaten that many crisps in all my life combined than I have since moving here a couple of years ago.
Where I grew up, crisps come in large packs and are used as snacks or nibbles at parties or gatherings with friends in the evenings. They are something special that you share and not necessarily something you eat on your own on a daily basis. The most common and popular flavour used to be paprika/pepper with other flavours like cheese & onion or sour cream & chive introduced later on.
But when I moved here I found myself suddenly in ‘crisp heaven’. Because crisps are mainly sold in small packs of 25g/30g it is ok to eat them daily, lets say with your lunch. Or as a snack when out and about. They are sold everywhere, are part of meal deals and the variety of flavours, shapes and ranges is astonishing. There are whole aisles in supermarkets dedicated to this form of potato snack – baked, extra crunchy, crinkled, extra thick, curly, lights, deep ridged, max and this is only for your ‘standard’ crisp, never mind hula hoops, fries etc.
A study by YouGov UK in August 2014 found that there is a strong correlation between age and favourite crisp flavour in the UK. Participants were asked which one out of the four main flavours they’d prefer. Cheese & Onion is the most popular flavour with 31%, but Ready Salted is not far behind with 28%. Salt & Vinegar has 23% and Prawn Cocktail surprisingly just 11%. Turns out though that if you’re 60 years and older, Ready Salted, the favour that has been around the longest, is the preferred choice by a decisive margin. The generation born between the mid-50s and mid-70s most likely have Cheese & Onion (introduced by Golden Wonder in 1962), whereas the those born between the mid-70s and late 80s opt for Salt & Vinegar (Smith’s answer to Cheese & Onion). 18-24 year olds narrowly prefer Prawn Cocktail which has been around almost as long as Salt & Vinegar. Interestingly their least favourite flavour is Ready Salted.
And the flavours don’t stop there. If you just take a look at one of the main brands there are alone 12 flavours in the classic crisp range. On top of that you get the more exotic flavours, seasonal flavours and different variations for different kind of crisps. And if you always had this idea for a flavour you thought is missing from the range the Walkers “Do us a flavour” competition might be right for you. It has proven to be very popular and had 1.2m entries in 2014. The winning entry ‘Pulled Pork in a Sticky BBQ Sauce’ topped the poll and landed the winner a £1m cheque. He beat five other flavours – Chip Shop Chicken Curry, Cheesy Beans on Toast, Hot Dog with Tomato Ketchup, Sizzling Steak Fajita and Ranch Racoon. The flavours were only available during the competition and are not regulars but you’ll never know. It just shows you how popular this snack is.