Let me tell you a story. A story, at its heart, about how a huge corporation can take the dreams of the little people, and dash them so easily and forcefully against the cold, hard ground. A story about deceit, outrage, and regret. A story about life. This, my friends, is the story of Old Dutch and the Mexican Chili Chips.
The early 90s were a happy, carefree time for many. Grunge music was all the rage, snap bracelets were flying off the shelves in record numbers (who else remembers these?) and everything was painted in bright neon shades of pink, yellow and green. It truely was a Utopia of tastelessness. I was also "coming of age" during this period. You know what I mean. Drinking my first beer, kissing my first girl, participating in my first circle jerk........wait, strike that last one....please. So maybe I have a bit of a glamourized picture of that era in my mind. Doesn't everybody feel that way about their "coming of age". Well, maybe not if you were a total loser, but why would you bring that up? That's just not nice. A lot of people can tell you in vivid detail about their first love, the person they lost their virginity to, or maybe the first time they smoked pot. I can tell you about the first time I tried Mexican Chili chips.
It was a warm summer day in Southern Manitoba. The temperature was a balmy 28 degrees Celcius (doesn't mean anything to you? Learn the fucking metric system already) and I was waiting in line at my local corner store. It was lunch time, and I was doing what all kids in my small town did. Spending my lunch money on candy and all other things that weren't good for me. The corner store was only a few blocks from school, and so it was far too easy to indulge in this habit. I was trying to decide whether I should go for a big bag of penny candy, or if it was more of a Snickers type of day. This is the type of decsion that can make or break your afternoon if you're 11. Ofcourse I was going to get some gummi bears, that was a given. Here's a fun trick for any school age kids that might read this: Suck on a gummi bear and then throw it straight up into the air right over your teacher's desk. It will stick to the ceiling for between 10 minutes and an hour, at which point it will lose its hold, plummet and land on your teacher's desk, or better yet, in your teacher's hair. That never got old. A little riskier, but well worth the effort was to suck on a gummi bear and then put it on your teacher's chair right before they entered the room. About 1 time in 10, they would sit down without noticing. The next time they got up to write on the chalkboard, you would be treated to a view of a gummi bear plastered to the teacher's ass. Cue the giggles from the back of the room.
So gummi bears were a must, but what else? Out of the corner of my eye I noticed the chip rack. But not just the chip rack. I noticed something different about the chip rack. A different color scheme seemed to be popping out from the bottom corner. I moved in to investigate. Sure enough, there was a new flavor. Now I don't know about you, but a new chip flavor (or soda flavor) is a reason to celebrate. The results might taste like refried shit, but the experience of trying these wacky new flavors is a MUST. Take for instance Chocolate Cherry Diet Dr. Pepper. What the fuck, right? Those are flavors that should not be mixed in carbonated beverage form. And sure enough, it tastes like absolute hell. But the first time I noticed it in my local store, I immedietely had to throw a box of it into my cart. How can I continue on with my life, knowing that Chocolate Cherry Diet Dr. Pepper is out there, but I don't have the balls to try it? That, friends, is just not living.
I grasped the bag and slowly read the name. Old Dutch Mexican Chili flavored. Who knew that 5 little words would have such an impact on the next 15 years of my life. It was a defining moment, to be sure. The unopened bag held so much promise. Here was a flavor that my taste buds had no knowledge of. I knew what a Snickers bar tasted like, but this, this could be anything. I really had no other option. My turn at the register arrived and I easily parted with my lunch money. Now I can't be sure, but I think the sun was shining just a little brighter when I exited the store. I choose to remember it that way regardless. Just try and stop me.
I couldn't have been more than 2 steps outside of the store when I ripped the bag open. My nostrils were immedietly assaulted by a strong chili odor. And I mean Liza Minelli on testosterone pills strong. You don't want to fuck with that. I am a man that loves his spicy food, so this smelled like heaven to me. I slowly lifted a solitary chip to my mouth and lovingly placed it on my tongue, not unlike a hit of grade A acid. My tastebuds exploded in a frenzied orgy of flavor sensation. While my vocabulary may paint an eloquent picture of this first experience, I think my actual thought at the time was something along the lines of "FUCK THAT'S GOOD SHIT". By the time I strolled back into the school, my bag was empty and I had a new favorite potato chip.
And all was well, for a time. But then, the impossible happened. Mexican Chili chips became harder and harder to find. Some stores just stopped stocking them altogether. When I was lucky enough to find them, I would buy as many as I could, in a vain attempt to stock up and avoid what I knew was coming. The complete discontinuation of the greatest potato chip ever made. And sure enough, that's what happened. I can't remember the last time I had them, because I didn't think it would be the last time. If I had known, I would have comitted the moment to memory (this is the regret part of the story). I wanted to write an angry letter to Old Dutch, but I was too busy being sticky and smoking behind the tool shed, like all 12 year old boys. How could you do this to me Old Dutch? If you were just going to take them away, why did you even bother in the first place. Is it better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all? FUCK NO. Loss hurts. Obliviousness is painless at best. Damn you to hell, Old Dutch.
A few years later they released a flavor called "Southwestern Spice". It had essentially the same taste as Mexican Chili, but was not rippled. The ripple makes the chip. Old Dutch was just teasing me, as if they hadn't already done enough. Oh and there was no racist caricature of a lazy mexican wearing a sombrero on the bag. Ah, Corporate Racism.
And then some years went by. And some more. And nothing really important happened. Life was breezing by with no direction. Every now and then a conversation was shared with someone else who "got it".
"Hey, you remember those mexican chili chips? Those were awesome. Whatever happened to those?"
I'll tell you what happened. Old Dutch is fucking satan in corporate form is what happened.
But the rumblings persisted. People still talked about these chips, even after 10 years. Surely that meant something, right? Old Dutch continued to be apathetic. I was ready to stage a sneak attack on their mascot, but they don't really have one. What the fuck? Unless you count the windmill on their packaging, but how was I to attack a windmill? And wouldn't that cross the line from "playful" crazy", to "slinging my own shit like a monkey" crazy? I'd rather not cross that line, thanks.
And then, a couple of weeks ago, I received an interesting piece of news. Mexican Chili Chips were coming back. After all these years. I could barely contain my excitement, but at the same time, was worried. Would they fuck with the formula? Would they be rippless? This was Potato Chip Satan we're talking about, so they were bound to do anything. I could live without my favorite chip, but would I be able to live with the sullying of its good memory? I wouldn't have to wait long to find out because apparently they were going to be on shelves the first week of February.
And sure enough, there it was....
While the bag was slightly different, they immedietly got two things right. They are rippled (thank fucking christ) and the lazy mexican is firmly in place. Beautiful. I bought two bags and got the hell out of there.
Safely back at my apartment, I ripped open the bag. You see, I was afraid that if I tried these chips in public, the awsomeness would immedietly cause me to blow a load in my pants. This wouldn't do at all, so I waited until I got home. That's just common sense. It was a good thing I waited, because the smell was EXACTLY the same as I remembered. Bright heavenly light may have even poured out of the bag upon opening, although admittingly, I am a little hazy on that part. I was too busy reliving my coming of age, all thanks to the smell of Mexican Chili Chips.
I slowly lifted a chip out of the bag and looked at it for what was probably 5 seconds, but felt like 5 minutes. Here goes nothing....
Have you ever wondered what it would feel like for your tongue to have an orgasm? Well bow down before me, because I now know how that feels. MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM....SO FUCKING GOOD. Imagine the best sex you EVER had. Then multiply that by a hundred. Well, the chips not that good, but you get my point. Old Dutch has redeemed themselves. The chips taste ALMOST the same. The only real difference is that they seem to be spicier now. Maybe tastebuds in the future need a little more punch in their potato chips. A friend and fellow Mexican chili chip coinesseur had a quick fix for that though. Dip them in sour cream. MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. God, I'm going to be in one of those little gocarts for fat people before you know it.
It seems some stories do have happy endings. Unless Old Dutch discontinues these chips again. If that happens, I will immedietly destroy the first windmill I see. Mark my words. In the meantime, you'll have to excuse me. I have to go roll around naked on a pile of Mexican Chili Chips.
Fuck, I can't wait to see the google hits I get from the title of this post....