Tesco Christmas Gourmet Crisps: The Taste TestDecember 20, 2011
Last month I wrote about Tesco releasing gourmet crisps in the form of a full Christmas dinner, including spiced gammon, Turkey with stuffing and… err… mince pies. Some of you wanted me to try them and report the results. Your wish is my command, dear reader. I gave them a go, along with a panel of judges: the results can be seen later in this post.
Sourcing these gourmet crisps for the taste test was proving to be an absolute pig. They were only stocked in the larger Tesco stores and they didn’t have all the flavours. I managed to get hold of the Norfolk turkey and the mince pie crisps, but saw the Wensleydale and cranberry flavour only once (which I didn’t buy because of my dislike of cheese) and never saw the spiced gammon. To replace the missing starter, I went for Pringles prawn cocktail. If they had melon with a glacé cherry flavoured crisp, I would’ve gone for that instead.
The judges. I found some willing volunteers to sample these seasonal delights as part of the judging panel. Let me introduce the people who tested these crisps on your behalf.
Banjo is an old friend. She knows her way around a cooking pot and appreciates good food. Bombay Fantasy is her straight-talking long-term partner. Randomaster and Slapstick Katie are the children, with discerning palates like their mum. Finally, Lex, Slapstick Katie’s friend just happened to be around: a great qualification for an official taster.
The process. All tasters were to smell the product, then take a bite from the sample. First impressions counted, but the tasters were given the opportunity to expand on their first impression, or change their mind as the product had time to linger on the palate. No points would be awarded. This was purely a matter of whether they liked the crisps or loathed them.
The test. We began with the Pringles prawn cocktail starter
“I’ve had these before,” said Lex. Banjo piped up: “I think they’ve got too much seasoning on. They’re too prawny.” Everyone agreed on this, though Slapstick Katie said that she liked it in spite of the strong seasoning and Randomaster didn’t think it was too bad. As Bombay Fantasy said: “It’s a cheeky little number!”
Next, we moved on to the Norfolk turkey with stuffing and onion gravy. Alas, Bombay Fantasy had to pass on this one because he’s a vegetarian. Everyone had a sniff of the packet. The aroma was very faint. This was not a good sign. But then we got hold of a crisp each, took a nibble and everything changed. “They’re not too strong,” said Banjo. “They’re just right.” Lots of “Mmmmm” sounds all round. I thought it would be just a roast chicken flavoured crisp, but then the stuffing flavour started to kick in and it was fabulous. Couldn’t taste the gravy though. “It needs some broccoli in it,” Lex suggested.
And finally: the mince pie crisp. My judges were not looking forward to this one, but were willing to sacrifice their palate for you, dear reader. It didn’t go down well. “That’s weird. It’s just not right,” said Slapstick Katie, pulling a face. Banjo was unequivocal: “Jesus H Christ! Once she calmed down, she was able to give a measured response. “It definitely tastes of mince pie, but I’d rather have that in an ice cream. I think the world’s gone mad!” Bombay Fantasy was intrigued. “They use similar seasonings to the Marks & Spencer’s cheese flavoured crisps. They definitely taste of mince pie with some salt at the end. I like them.” Lex also liked them, but it was too much for the rest of us.
The result. The Norfolk roast turkey with stuffing and onion gravy was the clear winner, followed by the Pringles prawn cocktail. The mince pie flavoured crisp was just too strange for some and trailed in last place.
The conclusion. Fair play to Tesco, for trying something different this festive season. The turkey was a great success, so I expect to see it next year, but I’d be amazed if we saw the mince pie again. There was a reason why there were plenty of those crisps left on the shelf two weeks after I initially bought them. Oh well. There’s always the Christmas dinner Pot Noodle.