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We all have our little indulgences or bad habits and I'm no exception, for me it's crisps (I can never get enough). Walkers are generally my crisps of choice but sometimes I get bored of the flavours available, seek out greener pastures. When I came across Red Sky I fell in love so imagine my surprise when I discovered that these were in fact made by Walkers.
~Walkers, who are they?~ Walkers is originally a British company (Now owned by PepsiCo) that have been making crisps since the 1880s. With a large range of flavours and varieties (Including Sensations, Baked, Max and Extra Crunchy) they are responsible for 47% of the British crisp market and the website claims that "11 million people will eat a Walkers product every day". Walkers have had Gary Lineker, formerly a Leicester City footballer, has the face of the company for quite some time, highlighting their links to the town of Leicester where the company was born by Henry Walker, a butcher originally by trade.
~Walkers make Red Sky?~ Whilst you'll be hard pressed to find any evidence on the packet, Walkers are indeed behind the new brand but have omitted its more mainstream name and logo from the product in order to create a standalone brand and a move into the higher quality crisp market.
~Why are they different?~ West Country Bacon & Cream Cheese are marketed more as a wholesome, fresh crisp. When you visit beer or food festivals they always have those farmer's fresh type crisps, made free from persavatives and packed with flavour and crunchyness (Think more Kettle and Burts Chips). Well this is the competition that Red Sky aim to take on with more 'life in the country' themed flavours (Roasted Red Peppers & Lime, Sour Cream & Green Herbs and Anglesey Sea Salt as well as West Country Bacon & Cream Cheese) and claim to be 100% natural. Whilst a red sky at night is meant to be good for shepherds (I've never really understood why) these crisps claim that "Red Sky potato chips (Potatoes chips? Wow, they are trying to be posh. Or American maybe.) are our promise of something just as good". "We only use the best incredients to bring you these beautifully crunchy potato chips (They like that term!) which taste as good as you would expect when made with 100% natural seasonings."
~What's in 'em?~ West Country Bacon & Cream Cheese flavour crisps contain "100% natural seasoning" with actual incredients of British potatoes (They're really going over board to tell us that), sunflower oil, sea salt , natural flavouring, dried cream cheese, dreid yoghurt, milk, whey powder, cane sugar, colour (paprika extract) and are suitable for vegeterians. Words of warning to those with allergies, the crisps are made in a factory that also handles wheat, gluten, barley, soya, celery (Are people really allergic to celery?) and mustard.
~What do they taste like?~ When I eat bacon sandwiches I like to put cheese on them (Have you figured out I don't understand the word diet yet?), it's a great combination and walkers have managed to capture this into a packet, it smells like breakfast to me but the nice kind, not greasy spoon. Walkers crunchy have the same consistency (Not as hard as kettle chips but still very crunchy) yet the flavour is far richer than run of the mill bog standard packets, with exactly the right balance. Whilst other crisps can leave a greasy aftertaste (I guess it's the artificial flavouring) you don't get this from Red Sky, I would liken it to the difference between Philadelphia and supermarket own brand cream cheese where essentially you know they're the same thing but the supermarket own brand is cheaper and tastes it. Walkers finally have a crisp that tastes expensive, sounds cheesy (And bacony! Hehe) I know, but words cannot do the taste justice.
~Will they cost the Earth?~ With great indulgence comes a great cost, at approximately £1.79 for 150g (apparently meant for sharing but not in my house) and 59p for a 40g they are not cheap yet there are deals to be had. When Walkers tried to distance themselves from the Red Sky brand the supermarkets obviously didn't pay attention as they are always in the same deals as Walkers Sensations (Which cost around the same price) and if you look around you can often get two bags for £2.50 or 3 for £3, bringing the cost down quite a bit.
~Will they save the Earth?~ Working in partnership with a number of other companies, Red Sky became a founding member of The Prince's Countryside Fund, which was launched by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2010. Walkers source their potatoes, oats and apples from British farms but the new commitment means a pledge that sustainable agricultural practices will be applied on farmed land used, funding, technical support and training will be provided to local farmers and promotion of environmental education and best practices will be shared among their associates and business partners (If even only a small amount of this is carried out it is still a big step in the right direction).
"We're committed to ensuring UK farmland can remain resilient for future generations of farmers. We have long standing contracts with our growers - this means we have a vested interest in their long term viability and can create sustainability strategies collaboratively" says the President of PepsiCo UK & Ireland, Richard Evans (Guilt free eating, give me more).
~What about the nutrition stuff?~ When trying to tighten the waist band crisps are generally not the best thing to eat, at 140 kcal per 30g, 466 kcal per 100g and a whopping 700 kcal per bag (150g) these are no exception (I should probably learn to share). West Country Bacon & Cream Cheese (per 100g) also contains 7.1g of protein, 59.9g carbohydrate (Of which sugar is 2.1g), 20.9g of fat (1.7g saturates), 4.8g fibre and sodium at 0.49g (Equivalent as salt is 1.24g). When I finally get my brain from the Wizard I may begin to know what some of this means, until then you're on your own sorry.
~Where can I buy them~ Waitrose stock Red Sky as well as Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrison's and local shops and supermarkets although they can be difficult to find other than in the larger stores.
~Well... what's the bottom line?~ Whilst I'm never convinced when someone tries really hard to tell me that something is natural, there is a lack of E numbers in the ingredients list. When they were handing out brains they made mine incapable of seeing nutritional information as anything other than swirls on the package, but I'm pretty sure they're not good for me. Whatever, they taste great and as long as supermarkets keep putting them in deals to make them cheaper I'll keep buying them (Plus it's good for the environment, apparently, just in case I need an excuse to keep indulging).