Ladies and gentlemen, it’s crunch time! The moment has come to answer the question that has been obsessing the country all week. What is the best crisp in Britain?
On Sunday, Channel 5, in its imaginatively named Britain’s Favourite Crisps programme, had dared to name and rank them from the best to the worst. Cue a countrywide controversy.
To get the programme’s ranking, thousands of Brits were asked to nominate their favourite crisp.
A list of the top brands was then presented to a panel of celebrities — ranging from Kim Woodburn to Basil Brush — to eat and discuss.
The Mail’s expert panel ranked Tyrrells, Quavers and Walkers as the best crisps while Nik Naks received the worst score
Joint winners at the top of the pile were Pringles (which are not a real crisp, according to some!), Walkers salt and vinegar flavour and Doritos (which are actually American potato chips, to be thoroughly pedantic).
Meanwhile, Jacob’s Mini Cheddars, Walkers Salt ‘n’ Shake, Nik Naks and Walkers Squares were placed at the bottom.
Other retro favourites such as Skips and Frazzles didn’t even make the cut. Shock!
So, how to break this deadlock? The Mail decided to find its own answer to this gripping question and subject all of the crisps in Channel 5’s programme to a battery of rigorous tests by our own experts.
From crunch factor, to nostalgia-rating, to their ‘green’ credentials, our fearless team — each one an expert in their field — have between them put away more than 100 packets of crisps.
Here they reveal their top five in each category and lowest scorers, although all 16 were tested each time to give the final score.
Read on to find out the real winners and losers.
Food scientist Dr Stuart Farrimond, author of The Science Of Cooking, used a noise meter to record the loudness of the ‘crunch factor’. Here are his top five — and the quietest brand . . .
Squares edged out the competition to take to the top spot in the ‘crunch’ category
88.1 decibels. As noisy as a motorbike, no wonder these are the outright winner. Makers know the louder the crunching noise, the crisper and fresher the crisp seems to us. 10/10
TYRRELLS READY SALTED
82.8 decibels. The noise of these as they snap in the mouth is loud enough to be heard above a vacuum cleaner. 9/10
81.6 decibels. These airy whorls look delicate. But the sound of them reverberating in the oral cavity produces fabulous crunching noise as loud as a singing voice. 9/10
78.8 decibels. Robust but still dry enough to crack into pointy shards that emit a sound almost as loud as a passing car. 8/10
SALT & SHAKE
79.2 decibels. Uncomplicated thin slices are proportioned to give one of the loudest and most satisfying crunches. 8/10
68.4 decibels. This is more of a pathetic whimper than a loud crack. 3/10
Nutritionist Angela Dowden analyses the ingredients and calories of the top five — and the worst . . .
Angela Dowden found that Tyrrells had the best ingredients with its low salt content
TYRRELLS READY SALTED
Cals per 100g: 491. The ingredients are just potatoes, sunflower oil and salt. There’s not much salt in these either — they have half the quantity of most brands. 8/10
WALKERS SALT AND VINEGAR
Cals per 100g: 519. Made with real sliced potatoes, so they are a source of fibre, and fried in oils that are lowish in cholesterol-raising fats. A 25g bag has 7 per cent of your daily salt intake — not a disaster. 6/10
KETTLE SEA SALT & BALSAMIC VINEGAR
Cals per 100g: 513. Posh but not healthy! Nutritionally almost identical to cheaper brands. But being cooked in 100 per cent sunflower oil they are a source of vitamin E, helping protect cells from damage. 6/10
MCCOY’S READY SALTED
Cals per 100g: 533. Crinkles create a bigger surface area, which means that these crisps absorb more fat and end near the top of the calorie scale. A 25g multi-pack has just over a 20th of your daily salt recommendation. 5/10
Cals per 100g: 536. Light starch-based Quavers are high in fat and calories on a weight basis. On the plus side, a multi-pack bag is only 16g, providing a diet-friendly 86 calories. 5/10
JACOB’S MINI CHEDDARS
Cals per 100g: 512. Made with 12 per cent powdered cheese, a 25g multi-pack has 128 calories. Baked with palm oil, so a small bag has 15 per cent of your daily recommendation of cholesterol-raising saturated fat. 1/10
Food historian Dr Sue Bailey analyses the snacks’ background and rates the most iconic brands.
Although Pringles only hit the UK shelves in 1991, Dr Sue Bailey awarded the brand 10/10 for nostalgia
Patented in the U.S. in 1976, we had to wait until July 1991 to enjoy them over here when the innovative stacking made them an instant hit along with the clever tag line: ‘Once you pop, you can’t stop.’ So original. 10/10
Launched in 1948 by a butcher who decided there was more cash in spuds, Walkers is one of our oldest and best loved brands of potato chips. Salt and Vinegar flavour followed hard on the heels of the original Cheese and Onion — and the green packet is an icon. 9/10
JACOB’S MINI CHEDDARS
Back in 1851 when W&R Jacob founded their bakery, how could they have guessed that Mini Cheddars would be one of our favourite snacks almost 200 years later? Top marks for longevity. 9/10
SALT & SHAKE
Frank Smith produced Britain’s first commercial crisp in a North London garage in 1920. The crisps are still going strong with Sixties- style packaging that taps into our nostalgia craze. 9/10
Marketed firmly at children when they launched in 1973, clever new advertising taps into our nostalgia. Now it’s adults stacking Hula Hoops on their fingers. 9/10
Developed in U.S. in 1964, Doritos (‘Little Golden Things’ in Spanish) arrived here in 1994, capitalising on our craze for hummus. A marriage made in heaven. 8/10
Britain’s first crinkle-cut crisps were launched in 1985. The waffle texture has been wowing us all ever since. 8/10
Clever decision to leave the skin on the potatoes makes these authentically British crisps appear genuinely artisan and healthy. 8/10
Launched in 1977 by Smiths and relaunched with a raft of new flavours in 2008, the Seventies-style packaging with furry monsters cleverly taps into retro feelings. 8/10
These curly puffs were revolutionary when they were launched in 1968, tapping into our passion for space-age foods. This was just months before men landed on the Moon. 8/10
These baby French fries tap into our love of miniature food. 5/10
THE TOP FOR TASTE
Chef Mike Bullard is a meat expert who specialises in bold British flavours.
Here are his top five — and the worst . . .
A ‘simple but delicious’ combination gave Hula Hoops Original the top score for taste
HULA HOOPS ORIGINAL
Made from reconstituted potato, the ready salted flavour is simple but delicious. 9/10
The flavours are tasty and totally unique. And I really love the puffy texture too. 9/10
The tangy taste of the processed cheese is surprisingly scrummy. 9/10
JACOB’S MINI CHEDDARS
These have a dense texture and deliciously cheesy flavours. Moreish, but still very satisfying. 8/10
TYRRELLS SEA SALTED
The salt and lovely crunchy skin gives these the edge over the very similar Kettle crisps. 7/10
The synthetic smell and wheaty taste are just horrid. There’s such a nasty aftertaste that you need a glass of water to wash them down. 1/10
Tyrrells sea salted crisps just edged out Quavers for the overall top spot
1. TYRRELLS SEA SALTED 39/50
2. QUAVERS 34/50
3. WALKERS SALT AND VINEGAR 33/50
4. SQUARES 33/50
5. SALT & SHAKE 33/50
6. MONSTER MUNCH 32/50
7. DORITOS ORIGINAL 30/50
8. MCCOY’S READY SALTED 30/50
9. WOTSITS 30/50
10. HULA HOOPS ORIGINAL 30/50
11. SENSATIONS SWEET CHILLI 28/50
12. KETTLE SEA SALT & BALSAMIC VINEGAR 26/50
13. PRINGLES ORIGINAL 26/50
14. JACOB’S MINI CHEDDARS 26/50
15. CHIPSTICKS 25/50
16. NIK NAKS 18/50