Route 11 Potato Chips

A while back I wrote how Lay’s Sriracha flavored chips were as exciting as a bag of cat litter but not nearly as tasty. Why can’t a big potato chip company with a big R&D department and even bigger pockets create a spicy potato chip that can stand on it’s own?

I was lamenting to friends how I was disappointed with the Sriracha flavored chip falling short due to unnecessary cheese flavors, and a lack of faith in the spicy Sriracha condiment. One of my friends interrupted and asked me if I had tried Mama Zuma’s chips? I hadn’t, so I decided to check it out.  Turns out the name of the company is Route 11 Potato Chips based in Mount Jackson, VA.

I got in touch with them via FB and asked if I might get samples of the Mama Zuma’s Revenge chip. They not only sent me the flavor I wanted, they also sent some of each flavor they make. I’m sure it was quiet to the point of Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart in the room when I opened the box, but in my mind it was filled with a triumphant version of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus when I saw those beautiful bags.

The first chips I tasted were the Mama Zuma’s Revenge Habanero Chips.  I opened the bag, peered in and discovered happily these were Kettle cooked chips as are all the other flavors in the Route 11 line. I took a few chips and began to munch, and initially I was disappointed.

I noticed however, as I kept eating the flavor intensified and kept building. There was no unpleasant “off” tastes, no cheesy notes just the flavor of sweet heat and subtle notes of smoke, garlic and paprika in the background.  The heat and flavor these chips delivered was just right.

The modus operandi was the same for all the chips, subtle flavors that initially seemed light, then after a few handfuls just make sense. The best example of this is in their dill pickle flavored potato chips. Most dill pickle flavored chips start off as vinegary with a hint of dill and leave you feeling as though you’ve been sucking on dill flavored 9-volt batteries. Not so with Route 11 chips, the overwhelming flavor you get is of Dill and the vinegar builds to a pleasant level.

I found myself enjoying all the chips, the lightly salted were a great all around chip. The sour cream and chive weren’t overly flavored so as to leave you wanting more as opposed to wanting to lick the southbound end of a northbound skunk to get the excess “taste” out of your mouth.  The sweet potato chips were surprisingly good letting the taste of the sweet potato more or less speak for itself.

The BBQ chips were thoughtfully seasoned and delicious as were the Salt n Vinegar. The only chips in their line that I didn’t seem to get were the Chesapeake Crab chips. I understand the gist of these is to have a crab boil sort of flavor reminiscent of old bay. But while I was eating them I couldn’t help but wonder…what am I supposed to eat these with?! It’s a small point and not being from the Mid-Atlantic, maybe the Old Bay flavor was the whole point but it was lost on me.

There’s a lot to love about Route 11 Potato Chips, from the product itself to the company as a whole. I love that they have a sustainability mission and that they make their chips in small batches. The only thing I am somewhat disappointed in is their use of social media or lack thereof. They are on Facebook but postings are somewhat sporadic. They are not on Twitter as of yet but I have a feeling that will change in the near future.

So the next time you’re thinking of getting potato chips for a sandwich or even a large gathering, pick up a few bags of Route 11. They are great chips from a small company, and are dedicated to making the best possible product in an environmentally responsible way. Happy snacking!

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