A fine crisp day


Not in winter or one spent in Quentin’s company when he was alive. But everyday has the chance of being one.


British salty snacks (packets of)

It is not news that potato crisps and other savoury snacks are a British obsession. More than 10 billion packets are sold every year.

There’s a Savoury Snacks Information Bureau and a European Snack Association. The fact that both institutions exist is a fine and fitting thing.

According to the European Snacks Association, savoury snacks are products made from raw materials such as vegetables (potato, carrot etc.), fruit (incl. tree nuts), grains (wheat, maize, rye, and rice), starch, vegetable oils and seasonings.

Tasty stuff. After all, opening a bag of crisps is a positive emotional experience, according to me.

In the age of diets — a knowledge of food and what is good and bad for you and an army of people telling you how to improve your lifestyle and health — the mighty crisp remains a golden sliver of delicious rebellion.

Also the word “crisp” is one of the finest examples of British English bettering American English when it comes to encapsulating a notion, philosophy, taste, texture and cooking regimen that turns the humble potato or maize into a salty snack taste sensation. Forget chips, Chip. They’re crisps.

When it comes to the food and drink element of my particular memory pop, my love of these snacks simply had to be reflected. A heady mix of nostalgia, salt and sensory recollection all led to crisp badges.

It’s little wonder (not necessarily Golden) that crisps occupy such an important (yet potentially damaging) place in my and everyone else’s heart. Like love itself.

After all, is there ever a time when eating crisps is associated with anything other than fun occasions?


This fella’s wearing a Tartan Tammy to eat his crisps

True, a trip to the dentist or to the hospital to visit a dying relative; or a morning of portaloo cleaning followed by a session of mucking out stables is not generally accompanied by crisp consumption. But frankly all those tasks could be improved by having a packet afterwards.

And then there’s all the fun occasions boosted by and associated with the presence of a salty snack.

As an accompaniment to drinks with or without friends, a quick bite during the interval at a pantomime, a change in texture following a sandwich at a picnic or a day at the races, crisps are essential and excellent.

Remember the days before the British government ruled out advertising delicious things that can lead to heart attack, stroke and obesity?

Who can forget the television campaign for “a canny bag o Tudor”, complete with regional accent and comedy?

Tudor Crisps were originally made in Sunderland. The TV ad involved a boy facing a daunting delivery to the summit of a high rise block of flats, in exchange for one of the aforementioned canny bags.


Canny bag

“Can I take a couple of bags of Tudor out of me wages?” asks young wage slave (delivery boy). “Nothing but the best for you, eh son?” replies business big wig (newsagent). Child labour, newsagent exploitation and gently dupery. What’s not to like.

Then there’s the Rolls Royce of crisp engineering named after a particular variety of the potato. Golden Wonder Salt and Vinegar crisps accompanied my transition from childhood to teen to underage wannabe drinker to legal pub goer with alacrity and an impressive quota of crunch and rustle.

MP_ golden_wonder_SaltnVin

Great with chocolate, bananas and any drink barring coconut milk

Unlike most political campaigning, right, left or middle, the Golden Wonder mad men provided many a memorable slogan to help punt their wares over the years.

Britain’s noisiest crisps, you’ll never grow old in Golden Wonderland and Golden Moments: Slogans to persuade me that my love of crisps should never grow stale.

Nothing better than a bag of GW Salt n Vinegar with a bar of Cadbury’s Fruit n Nut or a packet of Jelly Tots, right?

It’s not all nostalgia.

While trying to avoid becoming a cliched Scottish type who hasn’t lived in the old country for years, I was reminded recently of my nation’s brilliance when it comes to combining salt, saturated fats and unmentionable ingredients in the quest for a palate pleaser.



Unbadged honourable mentions, in no particular order, go to: Frazzles, Skips, mini poppadoms, Chipsticks, Scampi Flavour Fries, Fish n Chips, Doritos, Pringles, Taytos, Wotsits, Quavers, Monster Munch, French Fries, Hula Hoops, Nik Naks, Square Crisps, McCoys, Cheese Puffs, Brannigans, PomBear, Space Raiders and all things Walkers. Except Gary Lineker (former soccer player and now TV presenter).

Crisps, I salute you.

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