The Herr’s Game Day Flavors chips sit on a novelty cardboard shelf at the end of the snack aisle at Giant. The vivid pictures of tacos, dip, and chicken wings immediately demand a second glance, an oddity compared to other chip bag graphics. The tailgaters and football fans who are drawn to the Tailgate Taco and 7 Layer Dip flavors are the obvious targets of the vivid imagery. The quote on the back sums up the mindset for this audience concisely: “Football season is here and that means spending time with friends and family rooting for your favorite team.”
These snacks are indeed better with friends and family: it is so much more enjoyable to laugh about the avant-garde flavors in good company than by yourself. In this way the snack fulfills the mission it lays out on the back of the bag: making sports gatherings more memorable.
The warm terracotta color of the Tailgate Taco chips bag is very inviting. The smell of El Paso taco seasoning creeps up the nostril as soon as the bag crinkles open. The initial taste is a savory umami, but quickly forces a pucker as it turns to an almost sour aftertaste that is somehow very similar to the juice that drips out of the back of a taco. (I never realized that this was a sour taste, but the accuracy of the chip flavor makes it evident that this is the case.) The crunch is on par with most potato chips, and the distribution of flavoring is wonderful. Even though the chips look sparsely powdered, they are all sufficiently flavorful and there is no range between over-flavored and under-flavored chips, which often seems to be a problem with Herrs. The chips would be accompanied exquisitely by a cool beverage.
On to the next snack. In inventing a novelty flavor, The 7 Layer Dip Cheese Curl strives a little too far from what makes a cheese curl so good. The excitement of a new flavor and a new line of products distracts from why people would even give them a chance in the first place: the crunch. The deep green of this packaging does not match the orange fire of the cheese curls within. It doesn’t even match the guacamole pictured on the front of the bag, so I find it to be a curious choice. The smell, however, is inviting to say the least. A chili scent very much like that of the Doritos 3D Chili Cheese Nacho flavor, warm in its beckoning, but with just a hint of pizzazz, makes the bag very hard to put down. The curls are just slightly too powdery and too cheesy, which makes their initial entrance into the mouth a little disheartening, but as the curl dissolves on the tongue, the chili flavor emerges, surfing the gentleness of its cheesy precursor, erasing any memory of the overpowered bite that initially contacted your tongue. Even though the crunch is essentially non-existent, the dissolution of the curl and the wonderfully warm flavor make up for its absence. The aftertaste is a feeling of contentment.
Both bags are filled generously, which is usually a good thing, but the strangeness of the flavors would be better suited to smaller doses. In the end, novelty chips have their own place on a game day spread, and the Herrs’ line of Game Day Flavors can fulfill that role, but they should not replace any of the proven classics. Their distinctive flavors are great for conversation, and would be fun for any group of fans to try, even if they don’t become a part of the regular rotation of game day goodies.