It’s just fitting to inaugurate this junk food fest by starting with the world’s widely produced grain, CORN (scientific name: maize). From corn snacks to corn-on-the-cob to cornflakes, corn is undeniably the most recognized carbohydrate with gastronomic significance across all nations and demographics. The junk food empire is not spared by the maize’s proliferation and has in fact become its ally in spreading the goodness of corn chips to the snack market.
Frito Lay may be the undisputed king of corn chips, but local varieties are popping up and charming the taste buds of the Filipino snacker. Find everything that’s got corn in this section—from corn to tortilla chips to those puffy snacks that always give us the orange touch.
We’ll weed out the natural corn killers, so that you can slash them off your eating list and replace them with the worthy junk. Now isn’t that much better than snacking on oatmeal everyday?
1. DORITOS (FRITO LAY)
The corn-tortilla-chip epitome, Doritos has surpassed every brand made known to man and continues to expand its flavors and cater to every local taste. What’s more, it launched the Baked! Doritos version (Nacho Cheese) which can be considered the holy grail for every calorie-counting snacker. One serving (1 oz) consists of 120 calories (80% of the original) and 0.5g saturated fat (1/4 of the original).
Keep to the serving size though, since we wouldn’t want you to become bloated with the excess salt (220 mg or 20% more than the original).
Doritos continues to be the unsurpassed tortilla chip and top-of-mind brand because its blends in the perfect nacho cheese goodness with the right crisp. Most will surely agree that it’s the ultimate comfort food of this generation.
Country check. To date, the following have been listed as flavors available in the Philippines market: Nacho Cheese, Barbecue, Ranch, Taco and Baked Nacho Cheese. Flavors we wish were made available: Salsa Verde, Seaweed (Nori), Cheese Enchilada and Sour Cream and of course, Reduced Fat Nacho Cheese!
2. TOSTITOS (FRITO LAY)
Next-in-line in the corn chip kingdom, Tostitos expands its reign not by its flavorful variety but by its monochromatic contours. Here we have Restaurant Style, Crispy Rounds, Multigrain, SCOOPS! and Restaurant Style with a Hint of Lime. Calorie-wise, munching on mediocrity poses no fatal risk, but binge on 2x the serving size and make sure that you have a cup of tea to resuscitate your arteries before they decide to take a break from this world.
Salt threats aside, what’s terrific about Tostitos is its mildly delectable taste that goes just right with every dip! There’s also that hint of Mexican authenticity that makes every experience feel like a salsa-riffic fiesta! The Restaurant Style, with 140 calories and 1g of saturated fat, can really give Baked Doritos a run for its corn silk. Go easy on the cheese dip or reach for salsa and have a delightfully whole grain snack sans the orange fingers.
In a snack world where long sounding ingredients flood every packaging, here’s another reason to hail Tostitos—only 3 ingredients! Now that’s all-natural!
What we want to sample in the Philippines: SCOOPS! Hint of Jalapeno and Roasted Garlic and Black Bean.
3. TORTILLOS (GRANNY GOOSE/URC)
Tortillos has got to be the staple in every person’s pantry, field trip, drawer and study group. There’s something about the salt-laden chip that screams zest and vigor, fun and friends. If Doritos is the universal comfort food, then Tortillos is the Pinoy comfort chichirya (snack). Amazingly, its nutritional information falls within safe levels, despite its flavorsome thin rolled chip. Keep within the right serving and get your daily dose of junk food high form Tortillos.
While barbecue is the popular choice, the cheese and sour cream varieties offer a bit of novelty for adventure-seekers.
4. TOSTILLAS (URC)
Doritos’ petite half-sibling sans the cheese explosion and the enjoyable munch. This is the localized version of Doritos that can actually satisfy the taste buds of the less discriminating folk. But for the rest of the elitist populace, nothing can replace Doritos. If we’re going to while away on empty calories, make it count! After all Tostillas just has the same calories as its Frito Lay counterpart, with twice the saturated fat content!
5. MR. CHIPS (URC)
Mr. Chips veers from the Doritos wannabe segment by adding the extra crunch that it is known for. But with a cheesy flavor that screams “artificial” we’re better off munching on other cheesy alternatives. With its 5g saturated fat content per serving, that’s already 25% of our day’s needs. Calling Mr. Obesity!
5. HUMPY DUMPY (STATELINE)
Ah yes, the aroma of a freshly opened bag of Humpy Dumpy is enough to send us running for the nearest gas mask. However it isn’t actually the smell that should bother us but rather what’s in it.
More than 170 calories per bag and with 6g saturated fat. That’s like saying, eat 2 bags of Humpy Dumpy is all you need to get your day’s quota of sat fat. Time to dump this killer Hump.
6. CHIPPY (URC)
In every 80s kid’s stash was the ubiquitous Chippy. Every teen or adult who sees a bag orhears the Eraserheads commercial (Bogchi: a moniker of “snack/food”) would probably reminisce on recess time and the patintero sessions of his childhood days. But that is so 90s. Today, Chippy is like munching on peppercorn—hard and peppery and no imagination whatsoever. Perhaps it’s the spirit of barkada that keeps Chippy alive, definitely not its 7g saturated fat content.
Kudos for the newly launched Chippy O’s – Garlic Flavor for nearly halving this lethal saturated fat amount to 4g. Still considered hefty, but a large improvement from its big barbecue momma.
Like Chippy, there’s something very plain and unimaginative about this product that screams “recycle bin!” If you’re looking for the standard corn snack, go for Tostitos—whole grain goodness for 20 less calories and just the same list of ingredients.
If you’re one boring bloke, then indulge. After all, Fritos’ fat content is one of the lowest in this list.
In Mexico, taquito is popularly known as flauta, a lightly fried rolled-up tortilla with filling. Funny how Taquitos became more of a Tortillos copycat than a replica of its namesake (which would’ve been loads better). With more calories, salt and fat content, let us welcome Tortillos’ evil twin—the one we hide in the closet and forget ever existed.
9. CHIZ CURLS (URC)
Even the Powerpuff girls on its packaging cannot hide the fact that Chiz Curls is one puffy disaster. Calories, fat and sodium content zoom higher than Buttercup can fly. With 10g saturated fat, you’ll certainly get pudgy before you can spell “partially hydrogenated.” That’s right, Chiz Curls is dangerously smothered with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil—that’s the bad oil they use in fast food. Might as well kill yourselves with French fries; at least they won’t give you orange fingers. Chiz Curls gets an F in all accounts—a junkie food catastrophe that deserves a major makeover!
10. CHEETOS (FRITO LAY)
The tagline “Dangerously Cheesy!” does not seem to scare us one bit, but read between the lines.
Cheetos is hazardously fattening and wins the horrorific award for servings us cholesterol laden corn. The sodium content is sky-high and the saturated fat, well, it surely isn’t that pleasant. If you insist on snacking on the cheese puff kind, go for Baked Cheetos—the lowest calorie content (130 calories) after Baked Doritos (120 calories) and stays within the 1g level of saturated fat. Now that’s one danger we can face!
11. CLOVER CHIPS (LESLIE’S)
We never understood what a four leaf clover has got to do with a tapioca-flour-cum-corn snack, but we are fortunate enough that it has outlived much of its competitors. Clover Chips is one of the rare kinds in the market that is salt mine disguised as a vitamin-packed chip. Enriched with vitamins, Clover Chips goes a long way by fortifying itself with fat and salt too. Had Leslie’s toned down the bad stuff, Clover Chips would’ve been one of the best local snacks. Tough luck for now.
As a side note, the last Clover Chips we ate only listed the CALORIE CONTENT in the nutritional facts portion. Where on earth are the others? Are you hiding them from the curious eaters? I’m one curious cat, beware.
12. CHEEZY (LESLIE’S)
Cheezy’s tagline “Outrageously cheesy” is so outrageously crafted, even a five-year old can tell which snack it was copied from. Why, even the syllables are a perfect match—well done! The calories are at par, but wait, the saturated fat content is at a whopping 7g (vs Cheetos at 2g). That’s 33% —how horrible! Uh-oh, guess Chester Cheetah wouldn’t be too happy to hear about this outrageously calorific copycat that’s about to get crunched.
13. NACHO (LESLIE’S)
Nacho promotes the loud crunching sound that its spicy corn chips could possibly offer. Aside from sore jaws, expect a swelling sensation as well, after ingesting 1/3 of your day’s saturated fat quota. It also doesn’t help that for a simplistic corn chip, it has 5 lines in the ingredient list—and that doesn’t even include the vitamins yet. Craving for that cracking experience? Go for peanuts instead.
14. CHUMBOS TWIRLS (URC)
Next to Cheezy, newly introduced Chumbos is Jack ‘n Jill’s answer to the Cheetos phenomenon. The overall lookscreams Cheetos, but with a name like Chumbos, is it a nutritional mumbo jumbo? With 20 more calories but less than 2g saturated fat than Cheezy, this makes Chumbos a cheesier choice than its Leslie’s counterpart. Still, with a host of flavoring, MSG and partially hydrogenated oil in every spiral, go easy on the twirls and promise not to finish the giant bag in one go or you’ll certainly end up like Dumbo.
Sorry for not having posted a picture of Chumbos yet. I will, soon, but in the meantime, you’ll surely spot this giant orange bag a mile away in the grocery should you decide to go junk food shopping.
15. CHEESE RING (REGENT)
Ring shaped chips can be a real attraction. Eat it with all fingers and pray that you can still wash those orange-tinged fingers by the time you shake hands with your boss. Hygiene aside, the Cheese Ring package may be minute in size but massive in fat. Imagine this little bugger lugging around 6g of saturated fat—already 32% of your day’s needs. It also carries with it 3g of sugar. No wonder kids get hyper just looking at the shiny blue wrapper. Next time you get a ring craving, grab a bag of Roller Coaster (review to come) and get that cheese fix.
16. KORNETS (GRANNY GOOSE/URC)
Kornets reigns as the uniqueness champion with its conical shape and semi sweet taste—but that’s not the only distinct thing about it. This corn snack also contains 2 strange ingredients for a kiddie concoction: non-dairy creamer and aspartame. If you worry about the coffee component, well you’re safe as only the creamer is present to provide the creamy texture that makes Kornets delectable. As for aspartame—the sweetness aspect. The big question is: why does Kornets still contain 2g of sugar? That’s a hefty dose for a small package. At this rate, we might as well be eating corn ice cream.
Well, that was quite a mouthful. Need some time to digest all these? I certainly do. This calls for tea.
However, do check out the nutritional facts portion for a more in-depth approach to the science of food, while those looking for a smashing summary can inspect What’s in Your Pantry/Bin.