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Crispy Chips and Crunchy Guitars
On Symphony Chips' Balsamic potato chips and The Black Tones' "Mr. Mines"
February is Black History Month so every weekend edition of Snack and Destroy this month will feature a Black-owned snack or candy company. Buy their products! Support them on social media! They’re doing really delicious things.
Symphony Potato Chips’ Balsamic Flavor Potato Chips
There’s no such thing as a really bad potato chip.
I mean, there are boring potato chips and substandard potato chips and forgettable potato chips and potato chips covered in bad flavoring, but a really bad potato chip? Doesn’t exist.
A fried potato cannot be bad. It’s science.
That said, a universally great potato chip can be just as hard to find. Everyone’s definition of “great” is different. There’s kettle-cooked, baked, extra salt, no salt. There are chips with ridges and chips with waves.
There are chips made by grinding potatoes into flakes and those flakes into a dough and pressing that dough paste stuff into a vague potato chip shape. (See how Pringles are made here, it’s fascinating. I love them.)
Now that you know my baseline for what makes a good chip, you can know whether or not to trust me when I tell you Symphony Chips make a damn fine potato chip.
The Atlanta-based, family-owned company offers its chips in three flavors: original, smoked, and balsamic. Full disclosure: I have only tried the balsamic. In all honestly: I don’t even want to try the other ones. Balsamic is perfect.
Every bite is sweet, smokey, salty, with just the tiniest little tingle of heat at the end. The flavors hit you in flashes. Sweet! Smoky! Salty! Heat! Sweet! Smoky! Salty! Heat! Over and over again with each delicate crispy crunch.
They’re so much more than a basic salt-and-vinegar chip, which is what I was expecting to get when I first ordered them. Along with balsamic vinegar powder, the potatoes are seasoned with salt, onion and garlic powder, brown sugar, spices including mustard, paprika, and other “natural flavors including hickory smoke.”
It’s as though Symphony went down the snack aisle, picked off the best part of all the popular chips, and blended them into a masterfully balanced new creation.
Before you start comparing these to Zapp’s Voodoo chips — they do have a similar list of ingredients — know that these are not kettle-cooked chips. Symphony’s chips are thin, delicate. Think original Lay’s but less greasy. Think tissue paper. The light shines through.
Unlike some of the thicker potato peers, Symphony chips will not shred the roof of your mouth or stab your gums. These chips only want to love you. I love you, too, Symphony chips.
“Mr. Mines” by The Black Tones
Crunch, crunch, crunch! Do you hear it? The guitar tone in the first 20 seconds of “Mr. Mines” by The Black Tones is crunchier than a bag of RRRuffles with ridges.
“Mr. Mines” breaks away from the band’s usual “Kurt Cobain and cornbread” sound — aka a combo of Southern blues and '90s grunge — and takes a more psychedelic turn. It’s full of buzzing and wormy guitar and wordless harmonies that make you feel as though you’re falling down an Alice in Wonderland-like portal and you have no idea what the world will look like when you finally hit the ground.
Will the flowers talk? With the guitars walk? Will The Black Tones be rulers of a destitute Earth that has been all but destroyed by a wall of noise?
Maybe it’s the Seattle and Sub Pop connection but I also sense a sprinkle of outer space, like maybe Sub Pop labelmates Shabazz Palaces were hanging out in the studio next door and unknowingly influencing the songwriting process or something.
According to the band’s Bandcamp page, “Mr. Mines” is heavily influenced by Pink Floyd’s “Great Gig in the Sky” and Jackie Mittoo’s “Ghetto Organ” (both released in 1971), and while I hear each song — Floyd’s otherworldly etherealism and Mittoo’s steady but untethered rhythm — I sense a fantasy-like feel to it, too. The song is dense but it leaves room for the mind to wander, to imagine the notes growing arms and legs and grabbing one another to dance across the universe, to see the vocals stream across the sky in a rainbow of color.
Is that weird? That might be weird. What the fuck was in those chips?
More of February’s featured snacks:
The winner of February’s Snack Pack is…
Being a part of the Snack and Destroy community doesn’t just mean you get to read about delicious snacks — you get to eat them, too! Every month I pick one paid subscriber at random and send them their very own Snack and Destroy Snack Pack, an assortment of the goodies I am writing about and/or loving that month.
February’s winner is… Olivia K.!
Congrats, Olivia! Check your email — I’ve sent you info on how to claim your prize. I’m sorry in advance for sending you a bag of Brach’s Taco Truck jelly beans.
Every Snack and Destroy paid subscriber is automatically entered in each month’s drawing — it’s just $6/month or $60/year to subscribe. You also get access to the entire Snack and Destroy archive as well as additional posts, including recipes, interviews, and more. Plus, you support me and my writing, making it possible for me to continue snacking and destroying. ❤️