Pennsylvanians are passionate about their crisps.
Knowing full well how loyal snackers are to their favorite brands, we decided to ditch the chips in an unofficial Pennsylvania chip taste test. Of course, the state is the epicenter of potato chip makers, from moms and dads to mega makers.
The big question: Do cult favorite brands like Middleswarth Potato Chips and Hartleys Potato Chips compare to others?
We limited ourselves to plain and pot-cooked chips, only because some brands only produce pot-cooked fries. We have conveyed the ripples and flavors such as “chicken and waffle” and “barbecue”.
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What we found is that there are no duds in this pile of potatoes. Our panel of tasters included Chris Mautner, editor-in-chief of PennLive Life & Culture, Megan Lavey-Heaton, social media producer, Sue Gleiter, food and restaurant reporter, and interns Bennett Leckrone and Jillian Atelsek.
We nibbled at them in the name of sharing this definitive ranking of the best. We know not everyone will agree with our results, so express yourself in the comments and tell us about your favorite Pennsylvania crumble.
Made in Adamstown, Lancaster County
Baked in lard and advertised to have an “old fashioned taste, which everyone loves!”
You’d think a pot-baked French fries cooked in lard would catapult it into slot # 1. Instead, our tasters compared Good’s crisps to the generic crisps served in oversized bowls at school parties. (Where’s the Hawaiian punch and cookies?) Really, there was nothing wrong with those chips. We just expected better.
Made in Middleburg, Snyder County.
Advertised as a “delicious treat,” Middleswarth cooks their fries in shortening.
These chips have a cult following and are so popular that they are shipped all over the world. Sadly, Middleswarth would have to stick with what it does best, its BBQ chips. Plain crisps are just that, plain. They are also thin and lacking in crunch.
Made in Lewistown, County Mifflin.
Manufactured since 1935 and cooked in palm and cotton oils.
These crisps taste delicious – oh wait. We take that again. An otherwise solid chip is ruined by an oily aftertaste. Good start, bad end.
Made in Nottingham, County Chester.
Cooked in corn and / or cottonseed oils.
So thin that we can see right through them. Our team of tasters were lukewarm, just calling them “meh” and a little too oily. But that said, Herr’s is still worth buying in a pinch for a party or barbecue.
Made in Womelsdorf, County Berks.
Specialized in pot-cooked fries, they use vegetable oil.
It is a robust and super crispy chip. Dieffenbach’s kettle cooks its fries, giving it the upper hand. The chip is resistant to soaking, which we love. However, some of our tasters claimed that the chip was lacking in flavor. So with that, PLEASE take the plunge.
Made in Thomasville, York County.
Cooked slowly with shortening.
These crisps are also pot-cooked but lack the deep crunch associated with the cooking process. The flavor was slightly flat compared to some of the others. But overall, Martin’s produces a solid chip worth buying.
Made in Hanover, York County.
Composed of three ingredients: potatoes, cottonseed oil and salt.
If you want regular potato chips, this is a good standard potato chip. They are thin and sort of melt in the mouth. We lack a description, but that should tell you – these crisps are SO good.
Made in Chambersburg, Franklin County.
Produced from premium lard, potatoes and salt.
First lard for victory! It was the black horse of the peloton. Gibble’s stood out for its hearty texture and lively crunch. It’s an appealing crumble, maybe a little too salty for some. But come on, shouldn’t the chips be salty?