One contender in particular, their Cappuccino Potato Chips, seems to be the most taboo-breaking of these next-wave snacks. In a recent Yahoo! article, New York Times coffee authority Oliver Strand was called in from whatever he was doing at the time that had to be more important than this, and was asked to test these chips for coffee authenticity. His conclusion is unsurprising yet apt (“The chips smell like the coffee candy your grandmother kept in a glass bowl in the living room”), but he also delves into the background of the company that provided Frito-Lay with the food-science technology necessary to pull off this modern anomaly. It’s a short, recommended reading that foreshadows other unprecedented, amalgamated endeavors in the future, except maybe those will be popular and people won’t scrunch up their noses at them.
I get the impression the Cappuccino Chips may not be flying off store shelves and will soon be relegated to Dollar General clearance bins within the next six to twelve months. My wife and I have been slowly working our way through the bag we bought, a chore prolonged by my reading comprehension failure that caused me to buy a party-sized bag. Why that size exists, I’ve no idea. Maybe they satisfy a fine-print contractual obligation. Good luck finding a crowd of twenty to one hundred friends and relatives who’d love you enough to unite and eat the entire bag for you in a single month, let alone in one party.
I don’t loathe them, but as Strand points out, they lack the enchanting loyalty that a classic potato chip commands. Anyone who’s ever tried to eat a single Pringle knows those sensations — the surprise hunger pang that wasn’t there a few minutes ago, and the sudden, insatiable craving that demands you eat at least another pound of them before you reseal the container. Unlike Pringles or actual caffeinated products, the cappuccino chips have an addiction factor near zero. They’re okay, but they’re becoming a chore for us to finish.
After a few other food-synthesis experiments that proved unappealing, this past Tuesday night I stumbled across one use for them that truly, sincerely clicked. I like to think every foodstuff exists for a reason, and I believe I’ve discovered the Cappuccino Chip’s true calling. And hopefully this doesn’t lead us into a darker future fraught with French-fry lattes or hazelnut casserole or mocha tots.
Behold — Lay’s Cappuccino Potato Chips: the ice cream topping.
For my initial trial, I used Blue Bunny’s Cuatro Leches ice cream. For the photo I had to substitute Edy’s Caramel Delight because another anonymous household member ate the last two scoops of Cuatro Leches before I could snap a pic. It’s similar in color and intent, but Cuatro Leches has the overall advantage.
Consider, though: the chips are so thin and the coating is so sweet that the potato base is barely detectable. They’re salty, but not overbearingly so. Mixed with the caramel elements in either ice cream flavor, the chips add salt, weight, and the crunchy texture I crave in any winning, non-liquid ice cream topping. Y’know those salt-‘n’-caramel concoctions that have become a Thing over the last few years? That’s what happened here. It reminds me of the Fried Ice Cream dishes they used to serve at Mexican chain restaurants when I was a kid. And as many a Chopped judge will tell you, any dessert that takes you back to childhood is an A-plus dessert.
Keep in mind, I can vouch only for this combination with these two ice cream flavors. I’ve not yet tried any chocolate-based flavors, and fruit-flavored ice cream is not my thing. If you can make it work with Butter Pecan, Rocky Road, Cookie Dough, or one of those pricey Ben & Jerry’s travel-sized gourmet cups, by all means, we’d be curious to know how that goes for you.
During this whole process I had one thought in mind: that bag was four bucks’ worth of snacks. Someone was gonna eat all that. Thanks to ice cream, that modest demand may now become a reality without resorting to trickery or guilt-tripping.
(Full disclosure: if you visit the Yahoo! article and wade into the 200+ comments, you may recognize a reader discussing this same discovery. The short answer is, they’re with me.)