Composite by Kristen Hom
It’s hard to imagine, but there was once a time when sour cream and onion-flavored potato chips were considered outrageous. Yes, the noble potato chip is one of the most amazing flavor vessels known to man, but adding flavored seasonings to potato chips is still a relatively recent invention. We’ve come so far in just a few years, though, as companies have released chips flavored with everything from Guinness to pigs in blankets, with varying degrees of success. These days, it sometimes seems like flavor plays second fiddle to outrageousness when it comes to potato chips, which is why we’ve rounded up the 25 most insane potato chip flavors ever released to the unsuspecting public.
Before we dive into the abyss of modern potato chip insanity, let’s take a step back to those halcyon early days of the chip, when the simple fact that it was crunchy was surprising enough. The year was 1853, and as legend has it, a man named George Crum, the head chef at a resort called Moon’s Lake House in New York’s Saratoga Springs, tossed some thinly sliced potatoes into a fryer and doused them with salt out of spite to a diner who complained that his fries weren’t salty enough. Another, more plausible, theory points to George’s sister, Katie, who also worked there and accidentally dropped a slice of potato into a vat of oil intended for frying crullers. Either way, nobody doubts the fact that potato chips were invented around this time in Saratoga, especially because for the next 70 years they were called Saratoga Chips. It wasn’t until the 1920s that an inventor figured out a way to mass-produce them and distribute them nationally, and he changed the name to potato chip. You might have heard of him: Herman Lay, whose last name you’ll be seeing a lot of in this slideshow.
Here in the States, gourmet, kettle-style chips have sprouted up in recent years with flavors like Cheddar Beer, Sweet Onion, and even Maple Bacon. While these were probably considered a little off-the-reservation 10 or so years back, they’re simply not considered to be that wild these days. You see them on the supermarket shelves, say, "Oh, cool," maybe buy a bag, and then quickly forget about them. Chips like these aren’t included in our roundup. For today’s purposes, we’re talking about chips that, should you see them in your local supermarket, would make you stop dead in your tracks, scratch your head, wonder why anyone would every want to create — let alone eat — such a thing, and possibly look around to see if you were on Candid Camera.
That’s right, we’re talking about the wildest potato chip flavors ever. And while some of these were limited-time offerings and might not be available any more, we owe it to the universe to make sure that they’re never forgotten.