The recession has affected my weekly supermarket shop. Why buy a Muller’s corner when I can buy a normal yoghurt for half the price that they’ve actually bothered to mix? Similarly, I don’t need to pay extra for a photo of Jamie Oliver on my bolognese, just as I’ve no sensual preference when it comes to washing up liquid, cheap digestive biscuits come from McVities factories anyway and no way am I forking out an extra 20p to have my broccoli vacuum packed. Save, save, save.
Most Friday nights I can’t even taste the difference between Gordon’s and the Sainsbury’s own-brand booze either. Top tip – apple Tango is really good for hiding the taste of cheap gin! Although the Orwellian label marked ‘GIN’ in size 36 Arial Bold can send a harrowing shiver down the spine if stared at for too long. Top tip – cut out a picture from your favourite magazine and stick it over the label: yay – your very own Burberry gin as modelled by the beautiful George Craig – everyone’s a ginner!
HOWEVER. One item in my shopping trolley has dramatically upgraded itself, steadily creeping up the ranks of my till receipt over the last two years, and I’ve only just noticed now: Crisps. That completely inessential staple in Britain’s supermarket. Crisps. That satanic food that puts the word DIE into diet.
In the 90s crisps were a simple affair. They were mainly made by Walkers and they came in easy to remember colours. (Sure, some debate arose over why cheese and onion are in a blue packet when onions are kind of green – yet salt and vinegar in a green packet when the sea is kind of blue). Crisps were crisps. A blissful consumer paradise reigned over by the honourable Gary Linekar with the aid of the occasional mob obsession like Tazos.
Not anymore. Crisps have gone against the corrugated grain. It’s a national crisis (pun evasion intended). Out of the frying pan into the aisle, right wing potato chips have come into power and it looks like they’re here to stay. Just take a look at the said aisle in your local supermarket and gaze in horror at how over 60% is dedicated to the new era of upper class potato chips. Of course Walkers inferior cheapo rings are still there, but I dare you to waver your arm out in front of you and just watch where it goes. Walllkkk—quavvv—dorrr—RED SKY ONE POUND NINETY NINE A PACKET. Thought so.
It was actually Walkers who turned to the dark side first with Walker’s Sensations. An evil type of crisp that not only considered itself too cool to be just chicken flavoured but they had to have a super large ice-cap melting packet. Take note – a larger packet does not mean you’ll receive more crisps inside. We just don’t learn do we? Suddenly crisps started developing egos and self-consciences. They didn’t want to be just slightly salty, heaven forbid, what right minded packet of crisps wanted to taste like a ball sack? No, they needed coriander, thyme, parsley and exotic spices from countries their consumers had never visited.
Of course the only real sensation of Walkers Sensations was on the consumer’s pocket, the so-called sensation of the taste was nothing but thirst enraging flavour infidelity, but Britain went wild. So more posh crisps marched into the market - Kettle Chips, Red Sky, Tyrell’s and a seemingly innumerable amount of local ‘hand baked’ produce. Even dowdy powdery Doritos went on an ego trip and demanded their own little pricey jars of dip placed in and amongst themselves.
Then the virus spread. Pubs started selling posh crisps exclusively with barmaids nationwide quipping “we only ‘av Tyrells love", a line which in our Grandfather’s day would have been met with a dislodged jaw, but none of us spoke out. We just forked out more and more money for our crisps and stuffed our kids’ lunch boxes with bizarrely flavoured slithers of baked oil that came at a luxury price.
Why is Britain obsessed with posh crisps? What happened to the good old days of massive cheap weeklong lasting multipacks? Since when was lamb cutlet and fresh mint considered a flavour? Who’s making all the money behind this acne-ridden scam?
Crisp rant over.
Above: George Craig modelling for Burberry inappropiately dressed in some fashion exec's greenhouse. Still, the purfect cover image for a bottle of cheap gin.