Kettle Chips Beta

John Gruber is usually right about everything1, so I was surprised to see that, in his recent spot-on post about all things 'Beta', he neglected to talk about the one obvious situation when it's absolutely and perfectly acceptable to charge for a beta test of something: when you're eating potato chips!

In a move that seems almost like a direct effort to strike at the heart of the venn diagram of everything I love and hold dear, Kettle Chips is allowing you, the snack food fan, the rare chance to taste five potential, experimental new flavors of potato chip. Not all of these flavors will make it to the grocery store — most will be forever placed in the dustbin of flavor history.

Let me make this clear: you will be eating potato chips that most people will never get to eat. I'm not sure life can go anywhere from there.

They've done this once before, but this time, the flavors are fantastic. Chili Lime is perhaps the most unsurprising of the group — it's good and spicy and sugary but we've done this before — while Dragon 5 Spice and Island Jerk are both extremely complex flavors with interesting and intense spice blends. The Royal Indian Curry is honestly one of the best chips I've ever eaten, as a general curry lover. And most importantly, there's Aztec Chocolate. That's right, a chocolate potato chip, made with actual organic Dagoba chocolate powder, cinnamon, chili.. wow. I can't imagine eating a bag, but I'm glad I got a chance to eat at least one.

While, sure, $20 is a lot for 5 bags of chips, you also get a nice sampler CD of world music (to listen to while eating), and a convenient metal chip clip. But if it's the chip clip that sells you, you shouldn't be ordering. BETA CHIPS, people.

You can order the Passport To Flavor chips right here. And when you're done, remember to vote for Royal Indian Curry!

(And no, I don't work for Kettle. I will always, however, promote beta food, no commission required.)

1 Except Interarchy! I kid, I kid!


Yeah, if money weren't a prob I'd totally buy this...

wOOt! First post... *shot*
Anonymous A.J. 11/16/2006 5:30 PM  

20 bucks? Yikes! But exclusive access to flavorbetayumminess? It's gotta be worth it!
Anonymous Brian Warren 11/16/2006 6:00 PM  
I would love to try a Royal Indian Curry chip. I've been to India, but didn't see any curry-flavored chips there, even with Lay's interesting marketing tactics in the region (I speak truthfully.)
I really want to complain about a Circuit City ermployee right now, so i rehearsed the phone call in my head, and I decided I feel fine about it. Its kind of the same thing with these chips. I can imagine tasting them and them tasting interesting and amazing, but now that I've thought about it, I don't feel as hungry for the experience.
I have a jazz band concert tonight, I'm the only freshman in it. I play guitar. Bye.
Anonymous Ajay 11/16/2006 6:51 PM  
Here in England, there are other exotic Kettle Chip flavours such as "Apple, Sage and Thyme", "Crème Fraîche, Lemon and Coriander", "Buffalo Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil", and I saw a CRAZY bag of PLUM CRUMBLE flavoured Kettle Chips a few days ago at Sainsbury's. Haven't tried the plum ones yet. The bag said that the taste was supposed to be reminiscent of eating a homemade crumble at Christmastime. Quite skeptical about that claim, but I suppose I can't knock it until I've tried it.
Blogger Alex Mahan 11/16/2006 7:08 PM  
This is an interesting beta!

I'd like to try them, unfortunately no shipping to Canada. I had the same issue trying to order a case of Dagoba chocolate.

I'll vote for Royal Indian Curry and hope it get's "released".
Anonymous Anonymous 11/16/2006 7:15 PM  
Absolutely spot on! Except our family's vote goes Dragon 5 Spice -- it's a damn fine chip.
Anonymous david brady 11/16/2006 7:40 PM  
Dammit all to hell! Stupid internet and its US only rules. It is chips... in beta... and I know chips well .... /cries

Hmmm.... for BETA chips, I might consider moving and applying for a green card. I wonder what kind of grief I would get at the border if I order these to my friends place in Minneapolis and then lug them back home?

/wanders off to plan the greatest clandestine cross-border under cover of night chip smuggling heist ever
Anonymous Julian 11/16/2006 8:07 PM  
Wow. It is hard to imagine a chip more delicious than Krinkle Cut Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper, but I do love chocolate and chili.

Thanks for the tip.
Anonymous Coty 11/16/2006 11:15 PM  
Grrr... No international shipping. Anyway, the best potato chips are made by Zweifel. I think they have some kind of patent on making really, really thin, crispy chips.
Anonymous LKM 11/17/2006 12:20 AM  

I've been working on some homemade chili. Still definitely in beta though, I'm trying to find the right amount of jamaican jerk spice to add. It's tricky.

Beta test, eh?
Anonymous Larry 11/17/2006 5:37 AM  
Wow, looks great. Thanks for the chip tip.
Anonymous Garrett 11/17/2006 7:17 AM  
For those of you NOT in the US you may be able to pay our humble blogger to send you chips? All in the name of a good beta test!
Anonymous Anonymous 11/17/2006 7:29 AM  
Ready are you? What know you of ready? For eight hundred years have I trained as Beta Chip Eater . My own counsel will I keep on who is to be trained. A Beta Chip Eater must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away... to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. Crème Fraîche? Heh. Dagoba Chocolate? Heh. A Beta Chip Eater craves not these things. You are reckless.
Anonymous Yoda 11/17/2006 8:07 AM  
Additionally, if you're so inclined, you can post about your Kettle experiences at the Kettle neighborhood.

Kettle goes Web 2.0! (Ack). Sorry for the self-promotion, but we made the site and soft launched it last week. Hey, we're a Portland firm; we gotta stick together, right? ;-)
Anonymous Andrew Embler 11/17/2006 9:42 AM  
I hate to ruin the palpable feeling of exclusivity here, but these were on the shelves at the Glendale Whole Foods in California last weekend. I bought some just because I loved the red, olive, and gold bag colors. I forget the exact price, but less than $5/bag. Tasty. ;-)
Blogger ballookey 11/17/2006 9:58 AM  
Hey ballookey — are you sure you're not confusing those chips with the previous set of People's Choice chips, including the red-bagged Spicy Thai? Not that I doubt you at all, of course, but as I understand it these shouldn't be in production until some are voted off the Flavor Island. I'm going to have to drive down to Salem and do a factory tour to get some answers! :)
Blogger Cabel 11/17/2006 10:12 AM  
I bought two sets of the previous "beta" chips. They were freaking amazing!

Anonymous neb 11/17/2006 10:17 AM  
Spicy Thai is friggin' divine.

My favorite of the new batch is probably the lime or the island jerk, but honors go to the Dragon 5 Spice, simply because it tastes like a complete meal, and I therefore makes me think of Willy Wonka.
Anonymous Andrew Embler 11/17/2006 10:24 AM  
There is a decent chance that this is the dumbest and most frivolous impulse buy I've ever made. Thanks for pointing out the opportunity, my girlfriend will surely ridicule me about this for hours.
Anonymous Adam 11/17/2006 11:26 AM  
Dude, I am totally going to fall for this.
Anonymous Eamon Ford 11/17/2006 11:54 AM  
Purchased! How did you find out about this Cabel?
Anonymous Lucien W. Dupont 11/17/2006 1:51 PM  
In Scotland right now: Beta Pringles, including ROASTED PRAWN AND GARLIC flavor. I feel another package of weird UK snack foods coming on.
Anonymous lucie 11/17/2006 3:11 PM  
I ran into Cabel at the opening of Noodles & Company in downtown Portland, and he had the box in-tow. I ordered the smapler right away, and agree with Cabel 100% on the Royal Indian Curry. It is, by far, the best flavor for potato chips I have ever tasted.

I am ordering another $20 box JUST to eat the Royal Indian Curry chips. Crazy, but worth it.
Blogger Raven Zachary 11/17/2006 6:41 PM  
South Africa is the world leader in both many different chip flavors and many different chocolate flavors (and soda, and fruit juice).
Yet they have only the most basic lame ice cream flavors, while the US leads in high quality ice cream flavors.

There's an interesting business story lurking here regarding why certain items blossom into a variety of different flavors in some countries, while they remain stuck at the basics in others.
Anonymous Maynard Handley 11/17/2006 9:52 PM  
I kept putting off buying these, because $20 is a little expensive for our budget, but I finally had to give in. I love Kettle Chips too much to miss this opportunity!
Anonymous dalas v 11/18/2006 12:30 PM  
Mmm... Chili Lime and Royal Indian Curry sounds good!
Blogger Aerodyna 11/18/2006 1:06 PM  
Doh, who's the Island Jerk now? Me! (hand raised). Yes indeed I was seeing the previous People's Choice chips. I just saw the lush bag colors and thought they were the same. I'm off to kick myself...
Blogger ballookey 11/19/2006 9:21 PM  
I finally received mine today. Ground shipping from Oregon to Ohio is rather slow; there should be an 'O' state portal (fantastic for dropping by Oklahoma!).

All of the chips are quite good, but the curry and the jerk are my favourites. Closely followed by the chili and lime. But they're all yummy!
Anonymous Ryan Dotson 11/21/2006 5:44 PM  
We just got ours yesterday afternoon. Our family gave a 5 out of 5 to Dragon 5 Spice and Royal Indian Curry. Cabel, I agree, Chili Lime was a yawner.
Anonymous Brian Warren 11/29/2006 8:10 AM  
I'm still angry at Kettle for discontinuing the Salsa with Mesquite flavor.

Now I have nothing to satiate the munchies whenever I get stoned (which is rare) >:[
Blogger mykie 11/29/2006 11:01 AM  
When I was a kid, my father worked for Frito Lay. We used to get beta chips all the time. I thought he had the coolest job in the world.
Anonymous Anonymous 11/29/2006 11:11 AM  
anyone who's ordered these know the ingredients on them? do they even list it? there are some things i don't eat and would like to know what's in them before i'd buy. can't find info on their site.
Blogger star 12/13/2006 3:54 PM  
OMG. What a totally perfect gift.

Blogger Huw Raphael 12/14/2006 11:07 PM  
I love kettle chips. Just finished a bag of spicy Thai. Best chips ever
Anonymous Sam 12/16/2006 8:11 AM  
Much better than the beta test cheeseburger doritos!
Blogger Pinkhair 3d 5/07/2008 5:00 PM  

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Name:Cabel Maxfield Sasser
Job:Co-Founder, Panic Inc.
Location:Portland, OR