Deborah Cassell, managing editor

Are you one with wasabi, a devotee of chipotle or perhaps a jalapeño hottie? Me, I’m mangolicious ... at least, according to Kettle Foods.
Inspired by the company’s 2008 People’s Choice campaign, I decided to host my own “Fire and Spice” chip-tasting party at work, inviting my colleagues to “go down the rabbit hole to another dimension of spice.”
As instructed by Kettle literature, I advised my co-workers to cool their tongues in between chips by drinking milk or eating bread (I provided crackers) while sampling the five hot flavors on trial: Wicked Hot Sauce, Mango Chili (my fave), Jalapeño Salsa Fresca, Orange Ginger Wasabi and Death Valley Chipotle.
The results of my small, unscientific poll? Editors from BNP Media named Wicked Hot Sauce the winner, followed by Jalapeño Salsa Fresca and Mango Chili (did I mention this was my fave?).
Interestingly enough, Kettle’s recently revealed results yielded a different favorite: Death Valley Chipotle. “With heat that’s slow to burn and full of flavor,” the variety earned an average score of 3.66 out of a possible 5, beating the runner-up, Jalapeño Salsa Fresca, by a mere .12 points. Mango Chili came in third.
I’m not sure what accounted for the difference in these polls, other than the fact that mine included just 15 people, compared to 13,000 in the official online vote at But the overall consensus was the same: Kettle makes a great chip.
Just ask Herbie, one of the brand’s biggest fans. In addition to the scores of letters Kettle has gotten from consumers of all ages (including one kid who wrote “Kettle Chips rule!”), the company once received a card from Chimps Inc., Bend, Ore., featuring a photo of one resident noshing on Kettle Brand’s Yogurt & Green Onion variety.
Someone should send Herbie a bag of Mango Chili chips while they’re still available for purchase. Mangolicious, indeed ...
Chip Off the Ol’ Block
On a family vacation last year to San Antonio, Texas — host of SNAXPO 2008, to be held March 1-4 — my brother told my then five-year-old nephew Christian a tall tale in an effort to get him to eat his vegetables.
Having spent four days down South eating nothing but fajitas, quesadillas, chicken fingers and other bread-based fried foods (either covered in cheese or dipped in ketchup), we arrived on Fat Tuesday, no less, at a German deli called Shiloh’s. There, Christian ordered a ham-and-cheese sandwich with potato chips and (after some prodding) green beans on the side. I watched as he ate chip after chip, paying no heed whatsoever to the rest of his plate, until my brother took notice.
“Christian, you need to eat some of your sandwich,” he told his son.
No response.
“Christian, have some green beans.”
My nephew ignored him.
“Christian ... you’ve done nothing but eat chips and fries on this trip,” my brother said, taking a new approach. “Do you know what happens to little boys who eat nothing but potato chips?”
This caught the kid’s attention.
“What happens?” he asked, his curiosity now piqued.
“Once, there was a little boy who ate nothing but potato chips,” said Michael, straight-faced, “and one morning, he woke up to find that his ears had turned into potato chips.”
I chuckled at my nephew’s expression. He looked skeptical, yet hesitant to eat another chip.
“Is that true?” he asked.
“Well, if you keep eating those chips, you’ll find out.”
Christian wrinkled his forehead and eyed his plate. “But is that true?”
“You’ll have to wait and see,” Michael told him. “But if you want to save yourself, you’ll eat some of those green beans.”
Christian paused for a moment before dropping the chip and taking a forkful of his vegetables, which he proceeded to shovel in, occasionally pulling on his ears after my brother said they were “starting to look wrinkled, like chips.”
At one point, Christian turned to my sister-in-law for help.
“Is it true, Mama?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” she answered. “You’ll have to ask your father.”
We continued to taunt the poor little guy for at least 15 minutes as he ate green bean after green bean, neglecting his chips together, until my brother finally cracked.
“Is it true, Dad?” Christian asked for the hundredth time.
“No, Christian,” Michael said, laughing. “But I got you to eat some green beans, didn’t I?”
Editor’s Note: Celebrate National Potato Chip Day on March 14 by snacking on your favorite variety. I recommend Kettle Brand Honey Dijon (“tangy mustard seeks LOVE at first bite”).