No matter where you’re from, there is a food that defines your hometown. Whether its Maryland crab cakes, Chicago deep-dish pizza, or Philly cheesesteaks, we are what we eat. The same is true of snack foods. After all, you’ve got to eat something on the side with your Chicago Italian beef. While you can get your Lays and your Ruffles everywhere in the country, many of the truly great potato chips are only available in small, blessed regions. Here are the best regional potato chips from across this great nation.
Martin’s Bar-B-Q Waffle Chips, Pennsylvania
Though many snack food companies are located in Pennsylvania, from Utz to Hershey’s, the Martin’s Bar-B-Q Waffle Chip is the jewel of Central Pennsylvania. A friend once called it “the chip that eats like a steak dinner,” and if you have just one you’ll see what he was talking about. The sweet and savory barbecue rub perfectly complements the hearty waffle chip, resulting in one of the best snacks known to man.
Poore Brothers Three Cheese Jalapeño, Arizona
You would expect a Southwestern chip to have a kick, and Poore Brothers delivers. Of their six varieties, three are spiced to perfection. The Three Cheese Jalapeño joins their Habanero and Jalapeño chips as one of the spiciest, most flavorful chips in the country. The addition of parmesan, cheddar, and romano cheese makes this chip worth the trip.
Mikesell’s Beer Can Chicken Groovy Potato Chips, Ohio
Innovation made this country great, and that tradition is still alive and well with Mikesell’s potato chips. By combining the American pastimes of grilling chicken and drinking beer into one snack, Mikesell’s has created something wholly American and wholly delicious. If you want something with more of a kick, their Cincinnati Style Chili Groovy Potato Chips should be your next purchase.
Tim’s Cascade Snacks Big & Bold Buffalo Blue, Washington
For a smaller company, Tim’s Cascade offers quite the chip portfolio. With 10 flavors under the Tim’s Cascade mantle and five more under their Hawaiian Kettle brand, Tim’s makes several chips worthy of this list. Our pick is the Big & Bold Buffalo Blue. Any fan of buffalo wings knows that buffalo sauce and bleu cheese are a match made in heaven. In honor of their 30th anniversary, Tim’s has brought back the fan favorite chip, and the world is a little better off for it.
Deep River Snacks Ninja Ginger Chips, Connecticut
Sweet and savory combinations have become a movement in the snack world over the last few years, and this is one of the most daring attempts. By combining the flavors of ginger, chili pepper, and cilantro, Deep River offers nothing short of a kick to your taste buds. It’s also worth mentioning that Deep River is devoted as much to improving the community as it is to making great chips, so you can feel good about yourself as you snack.
Rusty’s Black Pepper Chips, California
Even as small chip makers go, Rusty’s is on the smaller side. That’s got nothing to do with the quality of the company’s chips. Critics and customers alike agree that Rusty’s products are in the top tier of chips around the country, even if they can be hard to find. Mass market black pepper chips can be a bit bland, but Rusty’s are anything but. The California company attributes the taste to how picky it is about the pepper used. We can’t help but agree Rusty’s must be doing something right.
Zapp’s New Orleans Kettle Style Voodoo, Louisiana
Sometimes, happy accidents happen and the world is better for it. Zapp’s Voodoo chips were invented when a palette of spices fell off of a shelf. The resulting combination of five spices was so irresistible, the Louisiana company opted to give the flavor a shot. The rest is Louisiana snack food history. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention another of Zapp’s flavors, Spicy Cajun Crawtators, because that might be the best name in the snack food world.
Route 11 Chesapeake Crab Chips, Virginia
A number of companies attempt to give you the perfect Old Bay-infused chip concoction, but Route 11 makes the best crab chip on the market. For those who don’t hail from a mid-Atlantic state, crab chips can be an acquired taste. If you’re into that seafood rub, you won’t be alone. The small Shenandoah chipmaker can barely keep up with demand as it is.
Written on January 08, 2017 by
Brenden Gallagher works in television and writing in Los Angeles. He worked on Revenge, Heartbeat, and Famous in Love. His writing has appeared at Complex, VH1, and MERRY JANE. Follow him on Twitter @muddycreekU