Tasting Nathan's Famous Crunchy Crinkle Fries Snacks
Deceptively good snacks, but no comparison to the original
Walking through the snack-food aisle at the supermarket is like hacking your way through a tropical jungle, with every imaginable color, fruit, and vegetable on the various shiny packages all vying for your attention. So when the Nathan's Famous logo jumped out at me I had to inspect closer.
Nathan's Famous Crunchy Crinkle Fries are available in a variety of flavors, including most interestingly "Cheddar cheese" and "chili cheese," with the history of Nathan and Ida Handwerker, founders of the beloved Coney Island hot-dog chain, on the back of the package. Having grown up on frozen Ore Ida crinkle cut fries (which were not bad, in fact they were "all right-a"), the real hot Nathan's crinkle cut french fries at the original Neptune Avenue location were a fresh veggie treat.
So I grabbed the Cheddar and chili cheese flavors and started munching on them in the supermarket parking lot. The Cheddar flavor was cheesy, with just the right degree of crunch — while tasting nothing like Nathan's french fries, which I often, at my daughter's insistence, douse with Cheez Whiz. But when compared to Cheez Doodles, my childhood staple, which I always preferred to the later supposedly cooler, thinner Cheetos, the Nathan's Famous Crunchy Crinkle Cheddar Cheese Fries (or NFCCCCF for short) were larger, airier, cheesier, with the interesting rectangular crinkle cut shape.
The chili cheese flavor was rust-colored next to the orange of the Cheddar cheese snack "fries". Again, no comparison to actual french fries, but they have a very interesting spice profile of chili, onion, and cumin that made me feel that I actually had a bowl of chili (in the way that Tang used to remind me of real orange juice.) So these snacks really stand up on their own even if I was misled by the Nathan's label.
Before tossing the packages I scanned the ingredients to try to explain what was missing in order to truly merit the Nathan's Fries moniker. There were far fewer unpronounceable chemical additives than in most snacks — also actual corn, rice, and oats. I couldn't put my finger on what was missing to make them taste more like real Nathan's Famous french fries. Then it hit me. The missing ingredient... potatoes!
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