Ranking Every Andy Capp's Snack Flavor From Worst To Best

Comic strip characters and food have had a long and storied partnership. Popeye the Sailor Man may have not been the direct name inspiration for the fried chicken chain, but he did become their mascot. His friend, Wimpy, inspired hamburger joints. Blondie's husband Dagwood led to a sandwich type and various restaurants. Dennis the Menace became the face of Dairy Queen, and the Peanuts gang has sold everything from Dolly Madison Fruit Pies and Zingers to Chex Mix and A&W Root Beer.

Of all the sweet and savory collaborations with the "funnies," the one still going the strongest is Andy Capp and his various flavors of oven-baked grain snacks. Andy Capp's most famous product is his Hot Fries: Surprisingly enough, this snack wasn't in the initial line-up of crunchy foods during its 1971 release.

During its five strong decades of existence, Andy Capp flavors have come and gone. The company was first owned by GoodMark (who owned Slim Jim). But since 1998, it's been under the stewardship of ConAgra. Today, there are six guilty pleasure options to choose from when you're craving a snack. When you can't have them all, you must choose wisely. The Daily Meal is here to help, ranking Andy Capp's snack flavors from worst to best!

Who is Andy Capp?

So, who is Andy Capp? Homer Simpson calls him a "wife-beating drunk." But read the back cover of the 1963 compendium book "Meet Andy Capp," and you'll have a clearer picture of the comic strip character — a "ruffish nogoodnik from Britain who drinks a bit, gambles a bit, knocks his wife about a bit—and doesn't work—not a bit." Yikes!

Andy Capp and his long-suffering wife Flo were dreamed up by cartoonist Reginald Smyth, who debuted the layabout with his eyes covered by a cloth cap in the Daily Mirror newspaper on August 5, 1957. A native of Hartlepool, England, Smythe based the characters on his parents, and his father's penchant for wearing a cap. The cap also lent the character his surname. As Smythe put it, "I thought of Andy because he was a 'handicap' to his wife. It was a terrible pun. Awful" (via The Philadelphia Inquirer).

At one point, the comic was syndicated to 1,700 newspapers over 48 countries. The comic begat a 1982 musical, a 1987 Commodore 64 video game, and a 1988 sitcom. Andy Capp once sold Tic Tac knockoffs Merry Poppers,and was a pitchman for Australian liquors in the 1970s. Inexplicably, he became the face of American snack "fries" — which doesn't exactly make sense, as fries in England are called "chips." Smythe passed away in 1998, but Andy Capp's name lives on in comic strip form.

Discontinued Flavors

Before the ranking begins, it's due time to pay respect to all the flavors that didn't make it this far. For one reason or another, they weren't crunchy, tasty, popular, or hot enough to keep their flames going into the fifth decade of Andy Capp's legacy.

In the dawn of Andy Capp snacks, two flavors stared customers in the face: French Fries and Bacon Strips. By the mid-70s, Hot Dog and Pizza Poppers joined them in the line-up. At one point in time, the packaging had a cheeky word bubble with Andy saying such things as "Blinkin' Lovelies," "Proper Charmers," "Flamin Marvels," and "Ruddy Smashers."

In 1976, Bacon Strips got in trouble with federal food laws for being "misleading" by not having any bacon in the product (via Evening Express). Starting in 1977, the company renamed the snack Betcha Bacon. Shortly after, they were rebranded as Bac-umms. French Fries got a makeover as Pub Fries and were joined by a little-known roasted corn flavor called Bugles — not to be confused with General Mills' Bugles, although they did license the name from the company.

Salsa Fries were on the scene by 1996, and in the new millennium, Andy Capp unleashed two kinds of Steak Fries — Hot Chili Cheese and White Cheddar Cheese. In 2019, the shortest-lived flavor was dropped on 4/20 — Hot Munchies Fully Baked (that looked a lot like ye olde Hot Fries) and was only available via the goPuff app. RIP, flavors!

6. BBQ Fries

BBQ is one of the most popular flavors of chips, so it's only natural that Andy Capp's would have fries in that milieu. Andy Capp's BBQ Fries appear to have lived many lives, first advertised in 1982, and then returning to shelves in 1999. A taste tester unkindly told the Quad-City Times in the '90s, "If Andy Capp didn't have his wool cap pulled over his eyes, he too would be able to see the more than 4 inches of untasty sounding additives on the package."

In 2011, BBQ Fries returned, with ConAgra Foods President of Snacks David Palfenier saying in a press release, "Consumers are looking for bigger, bolder flavors from their snacks," and adding that this Andy Capp product reflects "this trend toward more intense flavors." Sadly, there is not much intensity to be found within the bag. Things went downhill starting with the opening of it and taking a whiff. The Fries had an aroma that didn't seem fitting to what it was selling, and the mild mesquite taste didn't make for a solid second impression.

Perhaps it's time for another retool for the BBQ Fries. Why not partner with sister ConAgra Foods brand Open Pit to smother their sauces all over this product? There are many barbecue flavors to choose from, and how well do Andy Capp Brown Sugar and Bourbon BBQ Fries sound? You know the boozy Mr. Capp would at least enjoy the bourbon part.

5. Cheddar Fries

Introduced around 1974, Cheddar Fries are one of the longest-tenured products in the Andy Capp family of snacks. James Beard Award winner Mike Wiley of Maine's Eventide Oyster Co. restaurant admitted to falling "prey to the siren's call of" them, telling the Portland Press Herald that they're "more of a low-octane snack food than the Hot Fries, although I love them both."

Originally branded as having a "cheddar 'n chive" flavor, it was then promoted for having "MORE CHEESE FLAVOR!" James Lileks of the Star Tribune surmised that Andy Capp's beer and cigarette-coated tongue had "the sensitivity of an asbestos oven mitt. For something to penetrate the topsoil of Andy Capp's tongue, it would have to have 10 times the normal amount of Cheese Flavor."

Today's incarnation of Andy Capp's Cheddar Fries could use some "MORE CHEESE FLAVOR." These fries are infused with cheese powder, cheddar, blue cheese, and cheddar cheese flavor. Another aspect that feels a bit off is its crunch — as they were the only Andy Capp snack out of all six that didn't have much of one. The light and airy consistency of the Fries made them stand out... but not in a good way. No reason to not follow the leader here and go all out on the overly cheesy taste and orange residue dust train that Cheetos has been chugging along with since 1948.

4. Beer Battered Onion Rings - Hot

Onion Rings have proven to be a mover and a shaker for Andy Capp. Convenience Store News noted that they have grown two and a half times faster than other salty snacks. Since Andy Capp is well known for its Hot Fries, making a "Hot" take on their winning Beer Battered Onion Rings was an obvious next step. Introduced in 2022, the Hot Beer Battered Onion Rings are the baby of the family.

While these tanned orange Hot Onion Rings pack a great depth of crispness as the normal version does, they ultimately prove to be a mostly unworthy successor. They smell like Buffalo wings, and with that in mind, disappoint when they don't end up tasting like them. "Hot" can be a subjective temperature of snacks to any consumer. But these days, you expect "Hot" to be pretty darn hot, so the labeling of it as such here is misleading. These Hot Onion Rings are at best Medium Onion Rings, and at worst, a 2-ounce bag in search of a dash more spice.

3. Ranch Fries

For a snack brand synonymous with fries, it's curious Andy Capp wasn't the first to market with a brand of Ranch Fries. That distinction may belong to Borden, who debuted theirs in 1984. Believe it or not, that was a full two years before Doritos launched their greatest flavor ever — Cool Ranch.

ConAgra finally debuted its Ranch Fries at the 2018 National Association of Convenience Stores Show. Vice president and general manager of snacks and sweet treats for Conagra Brands Burke Raine said in a press release, that the company is "innovating to meet those evolving consumer demands with dynamic brands, bold flavors, portability, and cleaner ingredients."

Andy Capp's Ranch Fries proves that some things are well worth the wait — even if you didn't know you were waiting for it in the first place. Unlike the previous three flavors above, the ranch flavoring here is so inviting, delicious, and addictive that one is lucky that they're only available in 3-ounce bags to prevent you from eating an endless amount.

2. Hot Fries

The whole reason why this ranking even exists is because of Andy Capp's Hot Fries. The same Hot Fries weren't even a founding flavor of the brand (they arrived by 1976), but would grow to become a go-to staple at convenience stores and gas stations across America. These "Hot" commodities have turned young men into hungry thieves, and driven women from store to store looking for them just to satisfy their pregnancy cravings. They've appeared on modern TV shows like "South Side" and "Girls5eva," cured sore throats, and not to bury the lede here — practically invented the "Hot" snacks industry. Chester and his Flamin' Hot Fries owe a debt of gratitude to Andy Capp!

Approaching their fifth decade of existence, Andy Capp's Hot Fries are showing no signs of age — though your fingers may show the residual signs of the fries. But unlike Cheetos, the dusting is subtle. While the Hot Fries do have a kick to them, they're not hot by today's standards. But Andy doesn't need to answer to anyone! If it ain't not broke, don't fix it. If you were ever wondering if the comic character stands by the product that borrows his name, he tweeted in 2017, "Remember, eat Andy Capp hot fries responsibly. And often."

1. Beer Battered Onion Rings

What could be better than Andy Capp's Hot Fries? Apparently, a product that isn't even in the shape of a fry — Beer Battered Onion Rings. While these onion rings won a Bronze Medal in the Salty Snacks category in the CStore Decisions' 2021 Hot New Products Contest (behind J&J Snack Foods' Cheddar Stuffed Soft Pretzel, and Reese's Big Cup With Potato Chips), they are the gold standard in the Andy Capp line. They go toe to toe (or maybe that should read "O" to "O") with forerunners Funyuns and Wise's Onion Rings. Not too shabby for a new kid on the aisle!

Everything one would look for in a salty snack is right here for the munching — a crispy exterior that's a tad flaky (in a good way), packed with a savory and sweet flavor, and doubles as a pinky ring. While the batter of beer may be more of a selling point here in name only, these Onion Rings would pair well with a pint of beer. If only the Hot version of the Beer Battered Onion Rings were on par with this original!

Cheers Andy Capp, you've proven you can think outside the fry. So, what's next? Andy Capp's Mozzarella Sticks, Potato Skins, Tater Tots, or even Pigs in a Blanket? Sky's the limit, and the cap's off to you!