Can Kettle Chips Bridge the Gap Between Foodie Fave and Super Bowl Snack?


Aesthetes may argue that less is sometimes more, but when it comes to Super Bowl snacking, the opposite is usually true. More is most definitely more: more spice, more fat, more food, more flavor. Go big or go home.

Kettle Chips seems to have almost the exact opposite attitude. The Oregon-based snack food manufacturer proudly proclaims its healthy (well, healthier) bona fides. It eschews artificial colors and flavors, as well as MSG, trans fats, and genetically modified ingredients. Not surprisingly, Kettle's marketing tends to be a bit wonky -- forget Chester Cheetah and Sara Lee, Kettle proudly proclaims itself "the first potato chip to be verified by the Non-GMO Project."

Kettle's different style extends to its flavors: Rather than the standard chip choices of cool ranch, barbecue, nacho, and "let's pretend we're super spicy," Kettle's goes a bit off the beaten path with offerings such as Buffalo Bleu, Fully Loaded Baked Potato, Spicy Thai and Honey Dijon. The company is experimenting with flavors like sriracha, kimchi, wasabi and lavender.

If Kettle's flavors are a little odd compared to the rest of the snack pack, the recipes its suggests using its chips as key ingredients are completely off the spectrum. While Doritos offers options like Full Press Fundido and Howl at the Moon Nachos, Kettle has recipes for "BBQ Cedar Planked Salmon" and "Rock Cod with Crushed Potato Chips and Lemon Relish."

All of this might seem to put Kettle far outside the mainstream of Super Bowl snacking, but the company is making a genuine play for a spot on the game day coffee table. For those who like their chips with beer, Kettle now offers a beer pairing guide. Notably, Budweiser does not make the cut: The guide suggests that Spicy Thai chips, for example, are best when paired with a farmhouse ale, while Fully Loaded Baked Potato chips favor a smoked porter.

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Behind the scenes, Kettle is even more aggressively courting Super Bowl consumers. In the weeks leading up to the big day, the company sent out "Game Day Snack Packs" to food writers across the country, and hosted a "Game Day Snack Pack giveaway" that was aimed at building up its fan base.

("Game Day," by the way, is the phrase that companies use when they don't want to pay royalties to the NFL to use the words "Super Bowl" in their advertising.)

At the same time, Kettle sponsored the "Game Day Eats" promotion on the BlogHer network -- a seemingly counterintuitive Super Bowl move until you consider that women are one of the fastest-growing segments of football fans.

It remains to be seen if Kettle can halve the difference between foodies and snack food junkies. In the meantime, anyone up for a White Chocolate and Potato Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich?

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Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.