Snack of the Week: Pringles Select Szechuan Barbecue


Snack At A Glance (SNAAG)

Product Name: Pringles Select Szechuan Barbecue

Manufacturer: Procter & Gamble (see also Pringles.com)

Genre: Rice/Rice Starch and Potato flour hybrid snack chip

Year of Introduction: Late 2006/Early 2007

Nutritional Data: 140 Calories per ounce (28 chips, or one serving) 8 grams of fat per ounce, 220mg of sodium per serving, Zero trans-fats and 16 grams of carbohydrate per serving.

Primary Seasonings: Soy Sauce Powder, MSG, Garlic Powder, Paprika

Pringles definitely ranks very high on my list of favorite junk food snacks. I can’t exactly quantify why, but some of this has to do with the fact that the brand was introduced during my early youth, and I remember other kids getting care packages of them in summer camp, and having to barter various kinds of candy for samples of them. The cardboard tube packaging is distinctive (and it makes a great Wi-Fi antenna) and even the eating ritual is fun — you don’t eat them one at a time, you shove a piled stack of them into your mouth. And when you get to the bottom of the tube, you empty the whole can of leftover broken shards into your maw. Its a great interactive potato chip, if not for its inherent junkyness. It’s flavors were basic — plain, barbecue,  sour cream and onion, pizza, ranch, vinegar & salt, and cheese. And we liked them that way. The curved shape also lended itself well to simple sour cream based dips.

Now it seems that the venerable snack chip’s corporate masters, Procter & Gamble, are looking to expand into new market segments with the new “Select” line of snack chips. Some companies are able to do a particularly good job when they do demographic analysis and re-branding, like Doritos — but this is only when they don’t completely sacrifice the essence of their core brand and make sensible changes. In the case of Pringles Select, the new chip has virtually no resemblance to the fun, interactive snack that bears its family name.

For starters, the new packaging appears to be going after the Terra Chip or the gourmet supermarket chip segment, such as those made by Whole Foods. Gone is the recognizable Pringles can — its been replaced by a glossy bag, made of that plastic and metal-lined material that helps retain chip freshness. The chips themselves are smaller, almost too small for dipping, and the distinctive interactive nature of the original Pringles chip is lost. The particular flavor of Pringles Select I sampled, the Szechuan Spicy Barbecue, had an overwhelming flavor of MSG, then garlic, and then some soy sauce and then paprika — it didn’t quite resonate as Szechuan, as I perceived no actual Szechuan peppercorn or hot chile oil spicing. It was overwhelmingly salty — Rachel proclaimed her dislike of the chips from the very beginning, and I was done with them after a few samples.

I did like, however, the synthesis between the rice flour and potato starch, as the texture and crispness of the chips themselves were very good. Perhaps, if Pringles makes them in the original size and shape, in the original container, and works on the spicing formulation a bit more, they might have something — but I’m not buying these again.

11 Responses to Snack of the Week: Pringles Select Szechuan Barbecue

  1. spamwise says:

    They’d probably make great dive bar snacks.

  2. meekspeaks says:

    hey, nice product review. i had done one on this product as well (with achingly similar results)…feel free to check my perspective out at:

    http://meekspeaks.wordpress.com/

  3. kay says:

    I love this new snack.

  4. […] you POP you cant stop,” declares a Pringles slogan which underscores the addictive qualities found in the MSG laden crisps. While there may be a […]

  5. Ei says:

    I loved this snack! I’m assuming the packaging is different because it is a different product. Salty? Yes…but this can be counteracted by dipping into Duck Sauce, cold from the fridge. I thought it did capture Asian flavors and I even detected a hint of Seseme Oil flavoring. I plan on serving them with the Duck Sauce as an accompaniment to a cold Spicy & Tang Shimp with cucumber and avoacdo. I look forward to trying the other Pringle Select Flavors

  6. wingsabre says:

    right on, this snack sucked. i was hoping for something similar to home when i took my first bite, but was put off by it’s false advertisement.

    It wasn’t over salty for me as much as an excess in bad chinese food taste. it’s flavors are off. It taste like stale hoisin sauce was used as flavoring agent. Paprika has nothing to do with chinese flavors, it’s not even chinese. If they really want to imprint some szechuan flavors, then they should at least use the regular chinese favors like ginger, garlic, green onion, chilies, and sesame oil. jalapeños are more asian than paprika. If they really wanted to make this the high quality product you get from other gourmet brands, then they would fork out the cash for real szechuan peppercorns, after all they’re not illegal anymore. If they’re not then use jalapeños.

  7. Anthony says:

    They’re horrible. I should have stuck with the Sundried Tomato, but I had to be adventurous. Way too salty, too harsh and I was lucky to get down a few before my mouth started to burn. Snack foods should be fun to eat, but this was torture.
    Sad part is, I have a mostly uneaten expensive bag of chips that I have to throw in the trash.

  8. Steven says:

    Here at the office we have been buying all the different flavors of “Pringles” the past few weeks just to see what we like. The Pringles Select Szechuan Barbecue won.

    When returned to the super market to get more, there were only 3 bags. They went home with me. My son who is 25 years old said, “This is the only flavor I will ever have to buy, they are great”. I agree they are awesome. They have a great blend of herbs and spices with resting on a rice chip to settle them down.

    These really need to be advertised more. Keep making them now that we have discovered them.

    Steve

  9. Tracy says:

    I am a salt lover and yes these are a bit salty even for me, but who cares. THESE ARE AWESOME! They have such a unique taste and in all honesty I love all of the pringles select line except for the Southwestern BBQ (yuck). Now I do agree that they need to lower the price a bit but other than that I will continue to buy them.

  10. jinnifer says:

    These are my most favoritsit chips EVER.
    Too bad they are so incredibly hard to find, even in stores that carry this line of chips…

  11. I’d name your blog the dreamland! Whereas Santa knocks at our door just once per year, you blog is open the full year – wow! Thank you.

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