The final leg of our Potato Chip World Tour took me to Germany. Click the following links to read part 1, part 2, part 3, or part 4.

OK. Meine Damen und Herren, Jungen und Mädchen, it’s time to talk German potato chips.

Prologue: on airports

Over the last 10 years, there’s been drastic improvement in airport food (not to be confused with airplane food). Many of the major hubs have moved  from watered-down mall food to chef-driven restaurants and fresh food shops. Global companies such as HMSHost and Hudson Group have influenced these changes.

The rising tide of airport food has lifted the potato chip selections. Consider Terminal 1 at Chicago’s O’Hare airport: within a few hundred feet you can find at least five different brands. I saw Kettle Brand, Deep River, Lays, Dirty chips, and Chicagoland’s own Vitner’s. Other airports offer similar national and local varieties (Philadelphia, for example, carries Utz).

Contrary to airports, bus and train stations haven’t experienced the same renaissance. So chip lovers just have to fly.

Bag 0: I see Pringles, but where are the Lays?

I spent most of the week in Heidelberg, the picturesque German village known for its castle, bridge, and student life. I arrived on a Sunday and didn’t waste much time in getting to the chips.

First stop: the minibar.

minibar
Achtung! I saw the offerings, and this song played.
The next stop was a nearby gas station a few blocks away. Gas stations are the most reliable destination for chips, and Germany was no different.
However, something stuck out: I saw Pringles again, but no Lays. On my prior trip, I confirmed Lays’ ubiquity across Europe. Yet I visited other chip purveyors throughout the week and never saw them. It’s odd they didn’t have a foothold in Southwest Germany.

Germany Bag 1: Funny Frisch – Chili and Paprika (Riffels)

I started with three bags, all from the German outfit known as Funny Frisch.

funny frisch riffels

Ridged (or, uh, Riffeled in German?) Chili and Paprika were the first ones I tried. These chips were refreshingly crispy – sturdy, but almost fragile. The flavor was spicy without being hot (imagine barbecue chips without the sweetness). The seasoning was heavy yet not enough to leave residue on the fingers. Highly recommended

Germany Bag 2 : Funny Frisch Chipsfrisch – Currywurst Style

funny frisch currywurst

More like currybest!

The main flavors of currywurst are ketchup, curry powder, and a little smoke. I enjoyed them, but I understand not everyone loves curry (editor’s note: the people that dislike curry are wrong).

I regret not eating “real” currywurst during the trip.  I had a chance, but was scared off because it was listed in the snack portion of a menu.  I opted for an entree. The entree was large.  At least it was a healthy (some lightweight “spa cuisine” dish called schnitzel bolognese).

Germany Bag 3: Funny Frisch Chipsfrisch – Ungarisch

Ungarisch are Hungarian-style chips. The main flavors are paprika, onion and garlic.

Of the three Funny Frisch flavors I sampled,  this finished third.  But that doesn’t mean it was bad. All of the Funny Frisch chips were crisp and properly seasoned.

Let’s talk about the bag.

funny frisch ungarisch

I’m surprised they went with such a feminine color scheme like forest green and maroon. It screams drum and bugle corps uniforms, or a snooker hall.

I love it. Never change.

The best part is this is a conscious decision. It’s not like Funny Frisch is some stoic, out of touch company. They have Facebook page. Schweinsteiger endorses.

Not a chip, but a beverage worth trying: Multivitamin Juice

multivitamin juice

Multivitamin juice: every fruit ever, all in the pool, and very orange. This tasted best when ice cold. I had about 20 glasses of this. This, along with Schweppes bitter lemon, must get a bigger distribution in the US.

Germany Bag 4: Lorenz Crunchips –  Western Style

lorenz crunchips western style
I had to make a second gas station run halfway through the trip.  I wisely chose a different station with a wider chip selection.

Lorenz’s Western Style Crunchips were a must-buy. I’m a Westerner. How could I pass?

This bag told me Germany thinks Westerners love peppers and pineapple with ketchup. They are 100 percent right.

Their website describes Western Style as a “sweet and spicy” flavor. I’m disappointed they didn’t offer a more accurate description of Western chips. I’m thinking of the kind of chips that dress too casual for certain restaurants, assume everyone speaks English without asking, and get aggravated when the waitress don’t bring the bill post haste.

They were decent, but not great. The chips compensated for any lack of sweetness in the the Funny Frisch offerings.

Germany Chip 5: Chio Hot Pepperoni

chio hot pepperoni
Chio is a pretty established brand in Europe, so I had to pick something from them. And the last chip I had was the spiciest of the bunch. Being the naive Westerner that I am, I expected hints of meat in this chip (to me, pepperoni is something Italian). Nothing of that sort here, only the pepper flavors.

Overall, Germany is a potato chip destination. Strong national brands with a diverse set of flavors made this a great place to visit.  If you like paprika, this is the right country. And be sure to wash down whatever you eat with multivitamin juice.

You can buy some of the chips mentioned above online in the US. Click any of the links below to see offerings from the following brands: