Taste Test: Alexia's Crunchy Snacks
When Terra Chips crunched onto the national snacking scene in the 1990s, I was impressed. Because while no one would argue with the universal appeal of potato chips, prior to Terra (with a few mostly regional exceptions), packaged chips were low-quality, factory-made junkie munchers you didn't think twice about while mindlessly slamming back by the handful.
But Terra Chips were clearly different. Seasoned with ingredients more common to restaurant kitchens (like rosemary and olive oil) than the stuff emanating from the labs of food scientists (like orange dust), Terra's tasted more potatoey. And when they didn't, it was only because they were actually made out of alternate starches -like parsnips, taro and candy-striped beets. I became a quick fan.
Then a few years ago, Terra's parent company Alexia Foods started shaking up the frozen french fry world somewhat analogously. Now they even offer certified kosher and organic products.
Currently, Alexia is hoping to gain more footholds in the between-meals market by remaking other old snack-food favorites in their own, more conscientious image.
What I tried: Alexia's Crunchy Snacks - Savory Onion Strips and Bold & Spicy BBQ Waffle Fries ($3/each)
Ring my bell: Remember Funyuns? Well, forget 'em, because these are so much better. Unlike the former, these Alexias are brittle, dense, enticingly hard and provide a marvelous five-star crunch.
Irregularly shaped little curls, clumps and ring segments, these super snacks are dehydrated onion strips encased in noise-making crunchy batter that's sweet and black peppery. The biggest surprise is that they actually taste like real-deal onion rings.
From dust to dust: I'm not the biggest aficionado of "barbecue" flavor being delivered via seasoning powder, and was surprised Alexia was even trying it, so I guess I'm a little bit prejudiced here. Having said that, though, I think these are about as good as desiccated barbecue flavoring gets.
The chips were tangy, sweet, had a subtle chili sting and plenty of smoked paprika, but underneath all that you could still taste the potato. By far the best thing about them was their absolutely wonderful crunch. Sized and shaped exactly like waffle fries, they were like an oral carnival to bite down on - irresistibly fun.
Would I eat them again?: Sure -I'm rabidly finishing off the bag of Onion Strips as I write this. As for the Bold & Spicy BBQ, if I see them on your table, I'll happily dig in.
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