Tesco Christmas Gourmet Crisps: The Taste Test

December 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.

Crisp packet surrounded by tinsel

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.

Toys and characters in a police line up

The (very un)usual suspects

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.



  1. I wonder what chemicals they have to spray on chips to make them semi-mince pie tasty??? This idea of theirs to have chips taste like everything that isn’t a chip is SO weird.

    What if Cadbury decided to make chocolate bars that tasted like chips?

    • Apparently, they were not stuffed with lots of artificial stuff, though like you, I wonder how they can do that. The whole point of flavoured crisps, other than pure salted, is the artificial additions. Anyway, they weren’t as terrible as they could’ve been, but if you’re the type who wouldn’t go near those kind of foodstuffs, then you’ll never be convinced.

      Crisp flavoured chocolate? Don’t even go there, Mikey, someone will take you up on that challenge – that’s a guarantee!

      • Something like crisp flavored chocolate is not out of the question for some producers’ imaginations.

        A gourmet store/empire (Zingerman’s) in my town teamed up with Vosges Chocolates to make a bar with cooked bacon in it. Lots of people adore it, me, I don’t see what the fuss is.

        • Cooked bacon in chocolate sounds awful, but I imagine the contrast of sugar, salt and that pork taste would go down well with some foodies.

          I”ve tasted tobacco flavoured chocolate before. It was actually quite nice, though you were left with the lingering aftertaste of tobacco, no matter what you ate. I can now see why smokers (generally) don’t put on weight. As a non-smoker, it killed my appetite.

  2. The Norfolk turkey with stuffing and onion gravy crisps sound amazing! I must source those from my local store ASAP.

    Happy Christmas Pie!

    • They’re pretty good, Stewie. If you do manage to get hold of a packet, let me know what you think. And while you’re at it, if you find the Wensleydale and cranberry and/or the spiced gammon, tell me about those too.

  3. I have to confess that I have scooped chocolate ice cream onto crisps and loved the combination so happy to think about your research recommendations. Such a noble team!

    • I was lucky to have a very good and willing team, Patti. Scoops of chocolate ice cream onto crisps? Are you serious?! That’s fighting talk, Patti. I may have to try that one in the summer. Is there any particular flavour of crisp that works well? I can’t believe I’m even asking this!

  4. When you first wrote about these crisps all I could think was “ee-yew,” so it was interesting to hear how they actually taste. I was surprised about the turkey but not at all about the mince pie.

    I could have test-tasted them myself had the husband and I not postponed our December trip to London to February. Which leads to my request, resplendent with self-interest: would you do a series on things one must see and experience in London?

    • The mince pie wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t that great either, which was a disappointment to me as I was looking forward to having my taste buds pleasantly surprised by a successful combination, though it sounded like a recipe for disaster.

      Things to see and do in London? Hmmm. I’ll have to have a think about that one, as it depends on what you hope to get out of the trip. I don’t do many of the tourist trips/rides/events, but maybe I’ll write about one or two things so you have something to think about when you arrive in February.

      • What do you think about the Piccadilly Circus area, Soho, and Covent Garden?

        We’d love to hear about places you’d blog about — neighborhoods, gathering places to see interesting people, parts of the city that tourists wouldn’t necessarily hear about.

  5. Those are some interesting flavored chips/crisps. Loved reading the review of the taste testers!

    • They were a great team and it was great fun. Maybe we’ll try another Christmas taste test next year.

      Thanks for coming over and commenting on my blog. You are most welcome to come again and comment whenever you want.

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