Sunday, November 14, 2010

Trader Joe's Hickory Barbeque Potato Chips

They're the greasiest, crunchiest, saltiest potato chip I have ever encountered. They are also the greatest potato chip ever created. In my opinion, there is no better chip on this planet than these. Hold one up to inspect it closely and you see that the chip has pockets of oil trapped in every pore. Light shines through it as though it were stained glass.

The sugary/smoky/salty powdered BBQ seasoning is caked on, seemingly applied with no regard to its excess. Since it's Hawaiian-style (which really just means kettle-cooked), the slices are thick, sturdy, and have a raucous crunch and an intense potato-ness.

When the chips are gone, the bottom of the bag is speckled with the leavings, a greasy, salty, clumpy concentrate of crumbs, oil and seasoning that you can literally scoop up with a spoon.

If you're even a little bit squeamish on fat, do not buy these chips. If your doctor has curtailed your salt intake, do not buy these chips. If you're disgusted by anything I've said so far, do not buy these chips. If you're at Trader Joe's in Santa Ana and you see that there's only one bag left, do not buy these chips. Save it for me!

My cube mates and I have lost count of how many of these $2 bags we've bought over the last couple of months. We take turns buying the week's supply. At any given time, one is ready to go in our file cabinets. When the inevitable afternoon hunger pangs hits between two thirty and four, we look at each other and ask "Is it chip time?"

Then and only then do we tear open a bag and share.

We don't necessarily have to do this. Any one of us is capable of finishing an entire bag by himself in one afternoon. We eat it together as a sort of chip support group so that no one person goes on a potato chip bender he'll later regret. We also eat it together to confirm our shared belief in the greatness of these chips with intonations of "These...*CRUNCH*...are the greatest...*CRUNCH*...potato chips...*CRUNCH*...ever!"

O Fine Japanese Cuisine - Laguna Beach


At 6:37 AM, Blogger Dennis K. said...

I always loved the little burnt/super saturated chips you'd occasionally find in the bag. I need to try this..

At 2:20 PM, Blogger Melissa said...

I believe you. I'll have to grab some for Steve.

But! There had to be a but... I have to ask, if you haven't tried Rusty's Island Chips, that you do so immediately. I think they are comparable to these minus the barbecue flavor. Thick, potato-y, salty wonderfulness. You can get them 3 for $5 from this one vendor at the farmers markets and you can also get them at El Toro Gourmet Meats in Lake Forest. Don't know where else.

At 6:37 PM, Blogger Bill said...

LOL I've been at the kettle salt and vinegar from Lays' its so addicting.

At 7:31 PM, Blogger Chubbypanda said...

(o_O) I guess I'm buying me some chips.

At 12:08 PM, Anonymous JB said...

Love this post!
It beautifully captures the subliminal intimacy that people have with potato chips!!
My favorite line:
"If you're at Trader Joe's in Santa Ana and you see that there's only one bag left, do not buy these chips. Save it for me!"

BTW the Trader Joe's Salt & Vinegar ones are excellent, too. Without fail, I eat almost the whole bag before I realize I'm near the bottom and shamefully roll it up and put it away.....

At 3:27 PM, Anonymous Jeff Overley said...

That was certainly one of the more poetic potato chip musings I've encountered lately - well done! I think I could compose something similar about the black pepper Kettle Chips.

At 10:19 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


If you don't mind a supersaturated chip, you'll like these!


Rusty's Island Chips eh? Irvine Farmer's Market, here I come! If I can't find it there, there's always that Trader Joe's in the other side of the parking lot.


Potato chips are the one vice every one can agree on!


HAH! My powers of suggestion has worked!


Thanks dude! It'll be hard to convince my mates, to doing the Salt and Vinegar, but I think I'm sensing a rut roon...I'm going for them for sure!


Thanks man! Ah, black pepper flavor! Lookin' forward to your ode de chip! If only Trader Joe's does 'em.

At 10:13 PM, Blogger caninecologne said...

Great post!

these ARE SO DAMN GOOD! i love the powdery flavoring on the chips and how thick and crunchy they are!

my husband finished the other half of the bag the other day!

word ver is:

At 1:50 PM, Blogger christoofat said...

We used to have a guy from "Charlie's Chip" come by our work years ago, and sell different flavored chips in our lobby.He had these spicy chips that were to freekin die for!! They were so awesomely hot, salty & crunchy, we'd mow thru the huge bags in a day or two. Gawd, how I miss those things..
but the salt content alone would probably turn me into a column of it these days...sigh

At 6:57 PM, Anonymous Johan said...

Just a little tip,

I have a good feeling that Trader Joe's has their chips supplied by California Chips, a local Oxnard company, which makes the best Honey BBQ Potato Chips in the world.
They sell them at Smart & Final and Ralph's Fresh Fare in Tustin and they're around a buck, less than TJ's $1.99

At 9:58 AM, Anonymous kellyvonhemert said...

Forget the Cheeto-Frito-Dorito walk of shame, I'm going straight to hell with these TJ's Hickory BBQ Chips!
Thankgiving idea: shake the turkey in the powdery remnants left after mauling the chips and roast: Happy Thanksgiving!

At 11:01 AM, Blogger christoofat said...

no no has to be
BBQ chip STUFFING for the turkey!!
I figure at least two bags should fit.=)

At 4:53 PM, Blogger EatTravelEat said...

Looks fantastic! And very, very flavorful. Wouldn't it be also easier if TJ's sold the spice mix for their potato chips so you could directly apply the flavor to the turkey?

At 5:28 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Your husband needs a potato chip support group like me and my buds!


Ah a Lot biblical reference in there! Nice! If Trader Joe's made a Jalapeno flavor, that would be, um, dangerous for us!


Tips like this is why I keep writing these blogs. Thanks. I will definitely investigate this. Paying half for the same thing is always preferable.

Kelly and chris,

I don't see why that wouldn't work!


An even better idea!

At 1:35 PM, Blogger christoofat said...

ok..ok...I was weak.
I bought a bag to try.
They all seemed to suddenly disappear.
I had to um, I mean buy another bag yesterday.
And again...they are gone...
Do they have AA groups for this?

At 4:01 PM, Blogger ChowNoir said...

I'm dating myself here but the flavor I miss is Trader Joe's Hawaiian spicy potato chips. We used to scarf those up all the time. The subsequent hot versions never quite match. Oh well, nostalgia probably makes them seem tastier than they actually were.

At 7:58 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


"Do they have AA groups for this?"

Ah! See that's why I have to share it with friends! :-)


It's true that every bag we open we ask ourselves, "Wasn't the last bag saltier?" I think our tongues are getting acclimated!

At 8:44 AM, Blogger christoofat said...

We bought a bag of the plain ol salted ones yesterday, & they too are like Potato Crack. We cannot stop...
Thanks the Goddesses the bag is at least smallish.

At 12:13 AM, Blogger Shane said...

I was just wondering if anyone else out there felt the same way about these chips as I did and google brought me this page. I agree that they are the best chip ever created. It's just ridiculous how good they are. I must say though, the trader joe's salt and pepper ridged chips are full of some good crack too...but those are sometimes too intense. The barbecue have the comforting sweetness to them. I was eating them tonight and wanted to put them away, but then I would start to cry.

At 3:36 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


It's been a few weeks since I've written this, and I believe I've participated in the consumption of at least a dozen bags!


I'm totally getting the pepper and salted ones next! My sinuses be damned!

At 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a TD's Salt & Vinegar fan until I tried the BBQ. Fully addicted to these crunchy, greasy, decadently over-seasoned chips. Incredible to find such an unhealthy-but-delicious snack at market frequented by health-conscious grocery shoppers. Best-kepted secret in the store. Shhh...

At 3:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if Trader Joe's Hawaiian Style Hickory Barbeque Flavor Potato Chips are suitable for vegetarians?
Thank you.



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