34 comments

Great Canadian Foods: Ketchup Chips

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Most of our dietary intake is made up of common North American cuisine – vegetables, pasta, Hot Pockets – the list goes on and on. But some of the things on our menu are distinctly Canadian. Great Canadian Foods is a new weekly feature on SmartCanucks exploring the tastier side of Canadian living.

While it’s still a fairly new column, I’d like to think that “Great Canadian Foods” has a bit of structure.  We talk a little bit about what the food is, where it came from, and great ways to find/prepare it.

Ketchup chips has none of that.

Everyone knows what they are, nobody seems to know where they came from, and you can find them in every corner store in the country. What makes ketchup chips so special is one unsolvable question: why are we the only ones who love them?

Evidence of the ketchup chip in Canada (or at least the evidence we could find) dates back as far as 1967.  While that may not be as historical as some Canadian foods, it’s still a treat that dates back generations.  And it’s well-loved, too.  Old Dutch says it’s one of their top two most popular flavors (the other is Salt & Vinegar.)  Even Seth Rogan sang it’s praises on Jimmy Kimmel a few years back. But in America? You can’t GIVE these things away.

A number of leading US chip manufacturers have tried to offer this delicious ketchup treat, and every time they fall flat on their face.  A few smaller US snack companies produce them, but the average American consumer is going to have to special order/go on a manhunt if they ever want to taste it’s deliciousness without travelling across the border.

Do you have any thoughts on this mystery?  Why do Americans have no interest in our most-beloved potato chip flavour?  And when was the last time you bit into a tasty ketchup chip?

34 comments

  1. Faeore

    MY boyfriend is from Alabama and he insisted ketchup chips didnt really taste like ketchup. I think he was expecting it to be more like a french fries and ketchup type thing since chips are (usually) potato based.

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  2. frugal.tea

    Mmm….Ketchup chips. Brings back memories. That was the only chip flavor I ate as a kid and is still one of my fave flavors today. Mmmm…I used to love the Hostess ones. Even though my my fingers got red, my clothes got messy, and I got yelled at by mom; it was was worth it :) Yummy. I don’t find the ketchup chips of today to be as flavorful.

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  3. Theresa

    Ketchup chips are the best! Great, now I have to get some. Can’t imagine not liking them. Actually, chips are the best snack, period.

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  4. Theresa

    Had to add that frugal.tea is right, Hostess had the best ketchup chips, reminds me of my childhood….gotta miss the 80’s.

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  5. Meaghan

    I LOVE them! Agreed though, they used to be better. Old Dutch I think, is by far the best. I don’t like the crinkle ones beacuse you can’t taste the flavour as much, too much potato. And I don’t like Lay’s at all. Can you tell its my favourite flavour?

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  6. Sunnyside1

    Herr’s ketchup chips trump Hostess any day. I’ve only ever seen them at No Frills, but they’re done with Heinz ketchup and are beyond awesome. First one I tried I wasn;t sure about, but by the third chip I was in heaven!

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  7. ryry

    I can’t stand ketchup chips, but always wondered why certain flavors were not available in the US. I can never find dill pickle chipd there either:(

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  8. starrynight8765

    We also have roast chicken flavoured chips in NL, i’ve heard these are only available there, anyone know if you can get them in the rest of Canada?

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  9. rld0724

    ketchup chips are the only flavour that i’ll normally eat, but if stuck roast chicken are my second choice… (from central NL, and i’ve never seen them anywhere else… :D) I have to agree that they don’t taste the same as they used too, but I’ve found that if you experiment with some of they store brands or brands that you’ve never heard of, you can find a gem… currently, I’m addicted to the “great value” ketchup chips from walmart, reminds me the most of my childhood…

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  10. bugstomper

    A friend’s girlfriend would come up from New York state for the weekend and bring bag a trunk full of ketchup chips!

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  11. Natalka

    My son and I both LOVE ketchup chips – and for sure Old Dutch is the best. Funny, we didn’t like the Herr’s when we tried them…
    And, for sure, Hostess had the best ketchup chips ever!

    In Sask. we can get roast chicken chips – the best by far are No Name brand! I don’t know if the Lay’s ones are still around.

    Hardest to find chips are Fries and Gravy – very sporadic being able to find them.

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  12. Penny

    The Great Value Walmart brand is the best that they make right now for sure, they actually bother to put flavor on them. Lays and eventually Hostess (I remember once finding a HUGE ball of just flavor in the bottom of a bag when I was a kid, and it was pucker inducing but I ate it!)have decided that just adding the color will fool us into thinking they are flavored. I found the Herrs to taste nothing like ketchup at all! Made me want to gag.
    It seems that Canada is the only place you can get Catalina salad dressing either. We must like to use tomatoes for things more than other countries. When I was a kid it was my only salad dressing and eating at restaurants in the states was always “Do you have Catalina dressing?” “No what is that?” The waitress would say. “It’s kind of orangey-red? Tangy…?” “Ummm, we have Thousand Island”. It’s not the same. Good thing I learned to love Caesar.
    I think you can’t find roast chicken or fries and gravy because they tried it here (Ontario) and it didn’t sell well, so stores didn’t order it. They still can, but they don’t. We even had curry when those three flavors first came out, they sold okay at our store (kinda like Cheeseburger Doritos now, people love them but most won’t try them because the idea sounds so gross) but we didn’t order them again because there were a few left over. It’s how it goes.

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  13. Stephanie

    I *love* ketchup chips, but I’ll eat them only once in a while. Which brand do you guys think are the best?

    Not sure why they don’t fly in the US. I mean they’re swimming in other junk…

    Reply
  14. Penny

    Stephanie is right, perhaps that is why, they have a ton of other options. Plus it has been my experience that Americans favor the spicier side of things; they seem to really like chips in ranch and especially BBQ sauce. I am amazed at how many things they have in BBQ flavor; chips, crackers, dips, on all manner of meats and sides…. that and mustard. But by far I can’t ever seem to order something in the states that doesn’t come slathered in or with a side of BBQ sauce. I think they’d drink it if they could figure out a way to carbonize it…

    Reply
  15. Iwannawin

    Lays Ketchup chips = Win…
    Still can’t get over how poutine doesn’t exist in most of USA… probably a good thing…

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  16. Jen

    Lays are the best. The roast chicken as well as the fries and gravy were awesome, but I haven’t seen them in BC in years.

    Weird thing I ran across…a friend of mine used to live in Saudi Arabia and you can buy ketchup over there! They love them!

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  17. Julie

    I’m from Ohio. We have ketchup chips, but they’re not as popular as BBQ (esp. Snyder’s BBQ…to DIE for!..or Ballduf’s ripple chips…also to die for). We don’t put ketchup on our mac & cheese (Kraft dinner to you) nor on our eggs, so perhaps this explains why the flavour is so popular here – you all seem to like ketchup on everything else. LOL!

    Reply
  18. Leanne

    hey all, just wondering where I could find some maple leaf chips ?? I live on the southwestern coast of NS and we used to find them around here but not anymore! any ideas on where to find this brand of chips ?

    Reply
  19. Sean

    starrynight8765: You can get roast chicken here in NS, at the very least. Also, you can get Pineapple Crush here, now, as well. Previously an NL only delicacy.

    Reply
  20. canadian_girl

    When I was expecting and living in California for a year, my hubby would travel home to Canada and I would INSIST that he bring me back ketchup chips … for the baby. :) Love ‘em!!! :)

    Reply
  21. Liz

    @starrynight8765: we have roast chicken flavor in NB as well.

    Ketchup chips are my favorite. I agree with other commenters, Lays ketchup has changed in the past few years and taste funny to me now. The closest I’ve found to Hostess is Co-op Gold brand. They’re my go-to ketchup chip.

    My husband is Californian and also thinks they’re disgusting, but he is not a fan of ketchup in general.

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  22. mike

    herr’s ketchup chips are now the best but it used to be lay’s back in the early to mid 80’s, now the taste for lay’s ketchup is gross.

    Reply
  23. seril

    fries and Gravy were my all time favorite, by hostess. Remember Cajun in the black bag? mmmm good times

    S

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