photography by Carol Shih

Taste Test Thursday: Salt and Vinegar Potato Chips

Which bag has the best flavor combo? Read on to find out.

Twenty, thirty years from now, our children’s children will be reading their U.S. History books, and there will be a chapter titled, “Potato Chips: The Downfall of America.” I kid you not.

(Case in point: The lengthy time it’s taking me to write this post due to the five opened and alluring bags of salt and vinegar chips covering my desk. Yes, if I keep this up, I will be a 300-lb. woman soon.)

But let’s be real. Salt and vinegar chips are the reason why our pants sizes are one size too big. They’re aggressively addicting. And the only way I’ll be able to finish writing this intro is if I move my five bags of chips to the other side of the room. Okay. I’ll do that right now. And while I do that, you should keep reading to find out which bag holds the the truest salt-and-vinegar combo.

Deal? Deal.



A. Deep River’s sea salt and vinegar, kettle-cooked potato chips / Old Lyme, CT [from Central Market]

B. Michael Season’s sea salt and balsamic vinegar kettle-cooked potato chips / Addison, IL [from Central Market]

C. Boulder Canyon’s malt vinegar and sea salt, kettle-cooked potato chips / Omaha, NE [from Central Market]

D. Tyrrell’s sea salt and cider vinegar potato chips / England [from Central Market]

E. Zapp’s salt and vinegar, New Orleans kettle-style potato chips / Gramercy, LA [from Central Market]


  • “Tastes like a traditional salt and vinegar chip should. Just enough vinegar bite.”
  • “Firm chip, not too much vinegar. But tastes sorta smoky. Not bad.”
  • “Not too salty, just enough vinegar. Crispy.”
  • “Lots of vinegar flavor. Too much.”



  • “Sweet taste. Not a fan.”
  • “Extra vinegar flavor. Like it.”
  • “Sweet and not at all salt or vinegary.”
  • “Almost like a kettlecorn chip more than a salt and vinegar. Subtle vinegar taste.”
  • “Not even worthy of being called a potato chip, since it tastes like this piece of paper.”



  • “Left dust all over my fingers and tasted very unlike a salt+vinegar chip.”
  • “Just the right amount of crunch, but weird flavor.”
  • “Seemed more sour cream in flavor.”
  • “Vinegar tastes rancid. Way too salty, too.”
  • “This one is really vinegary, but in a good way.”



  • “Tastes like vinegar smells. Gross.”
  • “Light chip, a little tart.”
  • “Very bland and tasteless”
  • “Not salt and vinegary at all. Not salty enough.”
  • “Too plain.”
  • “Definitely a potato. Lacking flavor, but I like the naturalness.”



  • “Just the right amount of vinegar. Good crunch.”
  • “Strong potato flavor.”
  • “Salt-vinegar balance a little too much towards salt.”
  • “Extra salty. Not my favorite. No flavor.”



5 votes for (A) Deep River
5 votes for (E) Zapp’s
1 vote for (B) Michael Season’s


Whoever came up with the idea to make malt vinegar and sea salt potato chips (I’m lookin’ at you, Boulder Canyon) was drinking some [email protected]$$ Kool-Aid. Yeah. Malt vinegar and sea salt, together, is nast. The ‘y’ is purposefully missing. It’s that nast.

So Deep River and Zapp’s were the clear favorites. I think everybody knows and likes Zapp’s already. It’s a pretty standard, greasy potato cheap with a slightly vinegary tang. Deep River’s way more tangy, as far as I’m concerned. People like the classic vinegar taste. They’re not particularly inclined toward balsamic vinegar, malt vinegar (ugh), or even cider vinegar. Michael Season’s was too sweet, while Tyrrell’s cider vinegar didn’t have a strong enough taste.

The real conclusion: Just stick with regular vinegar when you’re buying potato chips. Don’t try experimenting. It never works out.


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