The number of things our country can agree on dwindles by the week. Let us celebrate the fact that barbecue chips ain’t one of them.
I have yet to meet one human who thinks, “Barbecue chips are awful.” That’s because they are objectively not awful: crispy deep-fried potato slices dusted with sweet, tangy, savory, and smoky flavors. As if that’s not reason enough to eat an entire bag by itself, barbecue chips are versatile, too, great shingled in a sandwich or eaten as a side dish.
My love for barbecue chips knows no bounds, and I mean that in a geographic sense. Beyond the national brands available in most supermarkets (Kettle Brand, Lay’s, Pringles), there exists a world of regional potato chips—relatively unknown brands beloved in their hometowns but often hard to find outside them. That has been my mission this past month: to find my new favorite barbecue chip that most Americans will have never heard about.
To do this, I solicited chip recommendations from a place with no shortage of opinions and hot takes: Twitter. Much to my shock, my one simple Twitter callout yielded 463 replies. Interestingly enough, roughly 75 percent of recommendations were for chip companies in two states: Ohio and Pennsylvania. In particular, Pennsylvania is arguably the cradle of potato chip production in the United States. (It’s due to a combination of fertile soil ideal for potatoes, the farming tradition of the Pennsylvania Dutch, and the area’s prevalence of pork products and lard that chips are fried in, according to NPR.)