Tuesday, April 08, 2008

It's what missing from your tortilla chip

I am living proof that the best ideas are born in the bathroom. It happens all the time at work. I'll be stuck in the middle of a project that finds me short of inspiration and creativity and that trip to the restroom is just the ticket to drive in the winning run -- so to speak.

I don't know if the topic of tortilla chips is anything earth-shattering but it came to me in the bathroom. Think about the plethora of chip varieties for a moment. Most major grocery stores have the better portion of an entire aisle dedicated to chips derived from either the potato or corn as well as their second cousins; the pretzel and a variety of cheesy puffs and doodles.

Did all of those products exist in my childhood a mere twenty or so years ago? I don't think so. Yeah, I remember Tater Skins being around but kettle cooked Old Dutch potato chips which are heaven to me as a rare treat weren't around (to the best of my knowledge) 20 or 25 years ago. Maybe this expanse of chip variety just wasn't on my radar.

Growing up, we were the type that picked up the basic white box with black type for our potato chip needs. They were, and still are, a luxury item but the chip conglomerates that rule the grocery game (I'm looking at you Frito Lay) are hell-bent on changing that. It's not just the lowly and basic potato that they have doctored up by adding sour cream, chives, onions, cheese, pepper, pickles, sausage (it's coming), steak, jalapenos and other items I can't even fathom but now the final frontier is being bastardized by the greed mongers at the multi-national chip conglomerates.

Yes, the basic tortilla chip. I'm a fan of them. The basic corn tortilla (I prefer yellow) is fabulous with the right type of salsa. By "right" I mean something other than Old Dutch or Frito Lay salsa. My favorite Mexican restaurant, Fajita Republic in Shakopee, makes the best fresh-made tortilla chips I've ever tasted. They are something of a religious experience to me when paired with their house blend salsa. But that simplicity is in danger.

The latest trend of the suits and chemists at Frito Lay is to basically ruin the tortilla chip as we know it. They've added "a hint" of lime to one offshoot of their white corn round tortilla chips. And by "a hint" they mean a whole fuck load of lime -- possibly an entire tree's worth of limes.

With that development, and here's the part that came to me in the bathroom, it can only be a matter of time until the destruction of the tortilla chip is complete. How soon until we find salsa-infused tortilla chips lining the racks of the chip aisle at Cub Foods, Rainbow, Super Target, Wal-Mart, Piggly Wiggly, IGA or whatever bizarrely-named grocer is popular in your corner of the USA? But it wouldn't be just one flavor of salsa infused into the chips. That would be too simple. There'd be half a dozen varieties of salsa ranging from mild (boring) to five-alarm picante (goodbye body hair).

Would you fall for this scam or would you protest in the streets? Why wait? Demand that the integrity of the tortilla chip be preserved! Contact your representatives in congress today!


cathouse teri said...

I love, love, love lime! In fact, I like REGULAR tortilla chips with lime squeezed onto them, just before dipping into salsa (always fresh and homemade). I do NOT like the lime infused chips because well, they taste not the same!

However, I thought they already started infusing and ruining the tortilla chip many moons ago.

Of course, I'm from California. We try to ruin things first.

Michelle Ann said...

Seems like you have a bit of a chip on your shoulder about this topic. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

I am not a big fan of chips...too much salt and grease. However, if I am going to indulge, I love sweet potato chips with just salt and homemade flour tortilla chips that my mother used to make. DELICIOSO!

Sornie said...

I'm actually a fan of those Veggie Chips. Good stuff and I think they're actually nutritious to boot.

buffalodickdy said...

You can make your own! We have a large, local producer(El Matador) which makes the best- in bags and boxes up to 6 lbs.! White or yellow corn, round or triangle, I will buy no other! Fresh tortillas are another issue...

Brendan said...

You've made me feel guilty about one of my guilty pleasures, Sornie. I do like those "hint of lime" chips.

I have to admit, though, there does seem to be something wrong with them. It's not like I binge on them when I do eat them; it takes me days to finish a bag. Nonetheless, after going through a bag or two, I suddenly find them fairly repulsive, even toxic, and I avoid them for a few months.

I share your feelings of amazement about entire grocery store aisles being stocked with chips, but on the other hand, I don't remember a time when this wasn't true. It does seem that tortilla chips are more prominent than when I was a kid. I don't think I had chips and salsa for the first time until about twenty years ago.

On a possibly related note, one thing I don't see nearly as much any more is bags of pre-made (and worse, flavored) popcorn.