Consumer perception of “health” continues to evolve, according to Michael Joyce, vice president of marketing for Deep River Snacks.

“Consumer trends tend to follow extremes; consumers want zero-calorie or zero-fat products that taste great,” he adds. “As a snack [manufacturer], we understand that consumers crave that indulgent crunch of a salty snack.”

That’s why tortilla chip producers such as Deep River Snacks are developing snacks that not only deliver that better-for-you option, but also provide a portfolio of fun-filled products, perfect for any carnival, outdoor picnic or fiesta.

In January, Deep River Snacks, Old Lyme, Conn., launched a host of all-natural, multigrain tortilla chips made with whole grains, all-natural ingredients and that feature the Whole Grains Council seal of approval. They come in Nacho Kick, Guacamole, Twist of Lime and Hint of Salt varieties, which are recommended to pair with salsa or guacamole.

“The multigrain consists of powerful grains like quinoa, flax and brown rice, which gives the consumers the crunch they crave and the full flavor they demand,” Joyce adds. “Our Nacho Kick is multigrain. We have taken an old standard and made it better for consumers.”

To celebrate its 30 years as a brand, Natural Snacks, LLC expanded its Mexi-Snax line of better-for-you tortilla chips to now include a “classic label” 14-oz. bag, available in Lightly Salted, Nacho, Pico de Gallo and Sesame offerings. “We went back with a retro look to keep the package simple,” says Christine Brown, director of marketing for Natural Snacks, LLC, the Addison, Ill.-based snack producer of the Mexi-Snax brand.

Also new to Mexi-Snax portfolio is a Hot & Spicy variety, which was also brought back from “retirement” and underwent a makeover. “The new package is designed to dramatically enhance shelf presence,” Brown adds. All of the above items are made with all-natural ingredients, no preservatives, artificial colors/flavors or hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. Plus, they are wheat and gluten-free.

Also hopping on the bold and spicy ride is Kettle Brand. The Salem, Ore., company extended its TIAS! lineup of tortilla chips to now include Sweet Baja Barbeque, which is smoked and sweetened with a touch of honey, delivering the flavor of a backyard fiesta, and Chili con Queso, which presents a spicy, cheesy blend simmered with onions, garlic and red and green bell peppers.

“We chopped chilies, minced garlic, grated cheese and blended in fresh herbs, sour cream and spices to develop fresh flavors that are so bold, you can taste the Southwestern sun in every bite,” says Julie Dunmire, marketing director. “Our bold flavors are a nice complement to a chip that’s deliciously light and crispy, creating irresistible seasoned triangles of toasted organic corn.”

For its part, Prime Choice Foods, Henderson, Nev., launched better-for-you tortilla chips under its Savory Balance brand. These organic, kosher and gluten-free tortilla chips contain a full serving of fruits and vegetables in each 10- to 12-chip serving. Made from a powder form containing apples, oranges, tomatoes, carrots, cranberries and broccoli, each chip is rich in vitamins, antioxidants and lycopene, as well as all-natural ingredients, such as non-genetically modified corn, sea salt and non-hydrogenated oil.

Aside from offering ethnic flavorings and targeting that ever health-conscious consumer, sometimes finding a place on the shelf is a challenge, especially as some snack manufacturers create new products that pair up against multiple channels.

To cater to the all-American party goer, Popcorn, Indiana created chip’ins, a chip that’s a cross between popcorn and a tortilla chip, made with all-natural ingredients, is gluten-free and air-popped. These trianglular-shaped chips come in White Cheddar, Buffalo Wing, Sea Salt and Jalapeño Ranch varieties.
“We already give our consumers who love popcorn something that they can dip into—like a guacamole or salsa or dip—and really enjoy the health benefits of popcorn without actual popcorn. You can’t do that with popcorn. We reinvented the chip—that’s how we like to think about it,” says Hitesh Hajarnavis, president and CEO of the Englewood, N.J., company.

Instead of taking the bold route, Los Angeles-based Beanfields LLC opted for more authentic funfair. That’s why it created Beanfields Bean & Rice chips, made from a combination of black beans, navy beans and rice. These corn- and gluten-free chips provide 4 g. of protein (equivalent to a 4-oz. glass of milk) and 4 g. of fiber (about the same as a half-cup serving of raisin bran) for each 1-oz. serving. They come in Naturally Unsalted, Sea Salt, Sea Salt & Pepper and Pico de Gallo varieties.

Offering a new twist to an otherwise already amusing concept is Bachman’s toasted Sweet Potato tortilla strips. Sweet potatoes are blended with 100% stone-ground corn to add that unique savory taste. Produced by the Bachman Co., Wyomissing, Pa., these chips contain 18 g. of whole grains per serving and offer a good source of vitamins A and C. The tortilla dipping strips are perfect for scooping dip from a bowl or straight from the jar.

Frito-Lay Inc. turned the funhouse upside down when it released Tostitos blue, restaurant-style chips. Designed to add color to any bowl of tortilla chips, these blue-colored tortilla chips are made from 100%-natural blue corn, heart-healthy oils and a sprinkle of salt.

The Plano, Texas, division of PepsiCo also rediscovered the tortilla chip and brought to life the Tostitos Artisan Recipes line of tortilla chips. These chips are made with real black beans, garlic and chipotle peppers, and come in Roasted Garlic & Black Bean and Fire-Roasted Chipotle varieties.

“Since first entering the market more than 30 years ago, Tostitos tortilla chips have been known for bringing people together to share fun, memorable experiences, making our great-tasting chips the must-have staple for just about any type of event or gathering,” says Justin Lambeth, vice president of marketing. “With the introduction of Artisan Recipes, we’ve put a new spin on the classic tortilla chip, baking real ingredients into every chip for a taste so unexpected and delicious, consumers can enjoy them straight from the bag.”

For some consumers, health may be top priority, but it’s not the only priority. Today’s snack makers prove that all it takes is a blend of bold flavors, zesty spices and some pizzazz in a bag in order to keep the fiesta goin’.

Editor’s Note: For more information about these and tortilla chips, go to and check out our online new products section.