Chipping Away

Back in nineteen-ninety-something I fell in love with Kettle Chilli Chips. New on the market, it was the first potato chip to dabble beyond the flavoural mores of the times. Prior to the Chilli Chip, the most exciting innovation in chippery had been the Ruffle, a sort of mini-orb of the corrugated chip (itself an innovation), that promised much in terms of texture, but was still limited to the essential flavours, being plain, salt and vinegar, chicken and barbecue. Besides rampant flavourings, the Kettle Chip range, which grew with time, exuded a sort of class and originality that set it apart from its competitiors. It was a superior chip worth the premium pricing.

The first few years were wonderful. I ate a large packet of Chilli Chips almost every afternoon. They sustained me for those last few, flex-buffering hours in the quietening office. They quelled my growing anxiety that I was wasting my life away.

Following the advent there amassed a plethora of competitors, the Red Rock Deli’s as well as the lame attempts of the traditional brands. Almost every visit to the supermarket evinced a new flavour or brand but, despite occasional flirtations, the Chilli Chip remained, for me, supreme. Until the awful news that the Kettle Chip company had sold out to Arnotts who had themselves, not much earlier, sold out to the Campbell Soup Company, to wider dismay (apparently the Kettle Chip brand was offloaded by Campbells to the Real McCoy snack food business in May last year).

Ultimately the loving of the Chilli Chip has been akin to an affair with a smack addict. It has resembled falling for a cult late night tv show on channel nine, only to be shunted and rescheduled and eventually descheduled. It has followed the trajectory of George Bush’s presidency. It has gone, in fewer words, to shit. Little by little the things that set Chilli Chips apart were whittled away. The last pack of Chilli Chips I ate might well have been a mislabeled packet of ‘100% Flavour Free Chips’ for all the sensory gratification they offered. And where was the arse-burn?

I suppose the moral of this story is that things are often the victim of their own success. Enterprises that are inspired by a passion for quality and originality frequently fall victim to the blandness of corporate machinations. And as a consumer, all one can do is savour the good things while they last – and keep them to yourself. C’est la vie.

7 Responses to “Chipping Away”

  1. Wow. The Chilli Kettle Chip.
    I used to ritualistically consume a 100g packet of these on the drive home.
    I loved them so much that I would get every last little morsel out of the bottom of the packet, while I drove home into the setting sun.

    I did not know they have been sold out, but I had definitely noticed a decline in the spiciness of the chip.

    They’re not as hot any more, but I still think they are the best chip going around.

    Nice to know I’m not the only obssessed one.

    The other problem I’ve had is that they’re hard to find in supermarkets nowdays. It used to be I could find them in any WW or Coles for around $2, but some stores will only stock Original flavour, or that gross Bacon or Ham flavour.

    I do like the deals at some servo’s where you can get 2 for $4, although sometimes I make the mistake of getting a 200g pack for $4 and then consuming more than half in the initial sitting.

    Then again, I am a guts…..

  2. I’m afraid I was on the 200g packet/day diet all that time, must be a super guts

  3. “The arse burn” LD? That’s some sophisticated dining you’ve got going on there.

    Maybe for your next birthday we can all chip in to get you a jar of chilli to shake on your chips until they attain the proper bottom scorching qualities.

  4. I’ve graduated to direct applications

  5. must feel good to finally find a subject that gets the commenters going?

  6. Just happy to have got anything out at all JB

  7. Is that direct application to your arse or the chips?