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Koikeya’s ‘strong’ potato chips scream flavor, but do they deliver?

by Patrick ST. Michel

Contributing Writer

It takes a lot to stand out in the crowded Japanese chip market in 2018. The safest ways to catch a consumer’s eye is to either embrace some sort of novelty flavor, or to go flat out on the hyperbole. With its new line of “strong” (all caps, that is) potato chips that promise a “punch” of flavor with each bag (¥152), snack maker Koikeya clearly opted for the latter.

The new line, launched at the start of last week, features three flavors: sour cream and onion, hot spare rib and rock salt and black pepper. The emphasis is on how potent these flavors are, meaning you can expect the rib and pepper chips to have a bit of a spicy bite to them and for the sour cream variety to be … creamy? At least that’s what the company claims.

I opted to keep it simple and try the salt and pepper variety. On a pure flavor level, these chips deliver a pleasant taste, not far off from a regular salt and pepper chip. So in terms of snackability, they are a solid bet. But what about the whole “strong” thing, screamed at you from the front of the bag?

The chips deliver a little more pepper than other similar offerings in Japan, but they don’t do that much to actually stand out from the pack, meaning the flavor is unlikely to be enough to make you crave these over other peppered-up snacks. That’s fine, just don’t bet on getting that much-ballyhooed punch.