They say you can't eat just one, and even though potato chips aren't typically my snack of choice, I honestly couldn't agree more. There's just something about the savory, salty flavor along with that satisfying crunch that makes potato chips wildly inviting.
We recently tasted some of the most popular and widely available varieties of classic potato chips at our office in New York City, and today we're sharing our thoughts on each — as well as our favorite national brand. Want to see our top pick?
How We Selected the 6 Brands
I selected a variety of well-known national brands of classic potato chips that can be found at most grocery stores across the country. To stay consistent I excluded chips with ridges, kettle-cooked chips, and flavored potato chips (of which I recently learned there are a ton). All the brands included in the taste test were found at several major grocery stores in New York City.
How We Set Up the Blind Taste Test
I purchased five varieties of classic potato chips, poured each bag into a bowl, assigned each one a letter, and lined the bowls up on a table. As people dove into the chips, I asked everyone in the office to give me their thoughts on all five brands.
The Taste Test Results
When it comes down to it, there are a lot of factors that make for a good bag of chips: saltiness and crunch, sturdiness of the chip and its ability to hold well with dip, and lack of super-greasy fingers after eating chip after chip.
Before we even get our hands on those chips, we have to talk about the bag fill. Those bags are pumped with air, so it can be hard to tell exactly how much food is in there. I think we can all agree that it's usually less than expected. With the help of everyone in the office, I assessed all of these factors for each brand.
- Price: $.41/ounce
- Bag Fill: Impressive! This was the best of the bunch, with the bag two-thirds to three-quarters of the way full.
- Saltiness: The saltiness was uneven throughout the bag. Some chips were very salty, and others left me wanting more salt.
- Sturdiness: These chips are light, thin, and really crisp — not very sturdy. They're probably best eaten on their own than with dip. This brand was also tied for the largest chips in the taste test.
- Greasy Fingers: Not overly greasy.
- Price: $.20/ounce
- Bag Fill: I was a little surprised to see this bag about half to two-thirds full. I was expecting more.
- Saltiness: Really good, balanced level of salt.
- Sturdiness: These chips are crisp and moderately sturdy. Good for eating on their own or with dip.
- Greasy Fingers: Keep a napkin nearby — these are greasy chips.
- Price: $.45/ounce
- Bag Fill: Good fill level, solidly around two-thirds full.
- Saltiness: These chips had just the right amount of salt — not too little, and not too much. They're good for eating on their own, or with a side of dip.
- Sturdiness: While these chips were a touch on the thin side, they definitely seemed sturdy enough to hold up well with dip. This brand was also tied for the largest chips in the taste test.
- Greasy Fingers: Moderately greasy.
- Price: $.54/ounce
- Bag Fill: This bag seemed a little flat from the get-go, so I didn't have a good feeling about the fill level. The bag was about half full.
- Saltiness: These chips were lacking in salt, and thus in flavor. While the lack of salt makes them a little lackluster for eating on their own, they could be a good choice for serving with a dip.
- Sturdiness: This is one sturdy chip. The difference is small (we are talking about potato chips, after all), but these chips were noticeably thicker than the other brands. No doubt that these would hold up well with dip.
- Greasy Fingers: Moderately greasy.
- Price: $.29/ounce
- Bag Fill: It felt like there was a lot of movement in this bag, so I wasn't overly surprised to see that it was about half full.
- Saltiness: Good amount of salt without being overwhelming.
- Sturdiness: These chips felt thin and brittle. They'd easily snap under the weight of a heavy dip. Definitely better for eating sans dip.
- Greasy Fingers: Very greasy.
Our Top Pick: It's a Tie!
While each brand had good qualities, there's always a favorite among the bunch. (Or in this case, two favorites.) The office favorites were a tie between Lay's and Utz.
While I'm sure it was coincidence, these two brands also had the largest chips of the bunch. Even though the seasoning was uneven, Lay's was praised for its serious saltiness. The chips were light, crunchy, and well-flavored.
Utz potato chips also finished with equally strong results. Tasters loved the crunch factor, and while the chips were thin and light, they also seemed sturdy enough to stand up to dip.
Do you have a favorite brand of classic plain potato chips? Any brand we missed that we have to try? Let us know in the comments!