I love newspaper food pages, what with their Bolognese sauce recipes and reviews of locavore bistros. They tell us how to eat well, and that’s something of real value. Putting thought into what we put in our bodies is never a bad thing.
That said, sometimes I just wanna grab some garbage food and shove greedy handfuls of it into my dumb face. There’s not much coverage of junk food in the food pages, and this feature seeks to remedy that.
In every biweekly edition of Pat Eats Garbage Food, I’ll review a different fast food item or convenience store snack and let you know what works and what doesn’t. (You’ll note I didn’t say what’s good and what’s bad; it’s all bad. That’s the point.)
I live in a house with three small children and one big dog. The floors are swept nearly every day and cleaned thoroughly at least once a week, but it’s a losing battle; they’re usually covered in a layer of dog hair and other nonspecific schmutz. I tell you this as context for what I’m going to say now: If I drop a Lay’s Salt & Vinegar Flavored Potato Chip on my floor, I pick it up and eat it anyway. I mean, I look at it first and kind of shake it a little to dislodge any loose hair or large bits of debris. Then I pop it in.
I’m not proud of this. But the Frito-Lay company should be. They’ve made a chip so perfect I am willing to perform an objectively gross act so as not to waste even a single one. I could be holding a nearly full bag of them — an untainted bag of pristine undropped-on-the-floor chips — and still, I’ll eat that floor chip.
$4.59 for a 7.75 ounce bag, which is the largest bag I can be trusted with.
The other damage
160 calories, 10 grams fat (1.5 saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 220 mg sodium, 15 grams carbs, 1 gram fiber, 2 grams protein in every 28 gram serving. They say that’s about 17 chips. I have been known to put a stack of 17 chips in my mouth at once.
From www.lays.com: “It all starts with farm-grown potatoes, cooked and seasoned to perfection. Then we add just the right balance of tangy vinegar. So every Lay’s potato chip is perfectly crispy and delicious. Happiness in Every Bite.” I’m so used to consuming vapid marketing copy that I barely even noticed the phrase “farm-grown potatoes” at first. Farm grown, eh? You don’t say. Well those must be some potatoes! Not like the parking-lot-grown potatoes most chip companies use.
They’re the McDonald’s fries of chips. They’re outclassed by objectively better small-batch, thick-cut, kettle-cooked chips with more gourmet tongue-searingly vinegary flavor. But they’re inexplicably more addictive and more satisfying. What they lack in crunch, they make up for with a delicate, shattering crispiness. (And, yes, that also means about a third of the bag is usually tiny chip crumbles. That’s the part you pour into your mouth at the end, with your head tipped all the way back like a PEZ dispenser.) Also, not for nothing, there’s no better accompaniment for cheap beer. For Father’s Day this year I want a six pack (read: 12 pack) of Miller Lite, a party-size bag of these and to be left alone in my basement for two days with some Hold Steady records.
How do they feel?
They feel comfortable. Almost nostalgic. But, because they’re impossible to stop eating, they also feel like an acid-burned tongue and a bellyache. Whatever. They’re worth it.
Will I eat them again?
I never really STOP eating them. I live the rest of my life in between bags of these.
10 out of 10. Hang them in the Louvre next to the Takis, Hot Cheetos and Mona Lisa.
Pat Muir is a former Yakima Herald-Republic staff writer whose Pat Eats Garbage Food Column ran from 2018 to 2020. It appears in Explore every two weeks.