Saturday 25 February 2023

Seabrook Sea Salt & Vinegar (Crinkle Cut)

It's time for British Crisps to swing by the offerings of Seabrook, a curious brand which until 20 years ago was mostly limited to the North of England. However, their inimitable crisps have gradually been heading south and are now accessible to many more regions. And this is good news for everyone. Anyway, today I'll be venturing into a bag of their crinkle cut sea salt and vinegar to discover what lies within.

Seabrook didn't reach my neck of the woods until the mid-00s, and I was first made aware of them when someone at work triumphantly held a pack aloft and said "Look! There's a window on the packet! You can actually see what you're buying, just like the good old days!" before they saluted a Union Jack as a single tear rolled down their patriotic cheek.

And, in 2004, it was certainly a novel touch, harking back nostalgically to an era where Walkers hadn't started cladding crisps in foil. But, a few years later, even Seabrook succumbed to the freshness of foil, and barely anyone kicked up a stink.

It had been a while since I'd indulged in any Seabrook crisps, a tough move when you consider that the shelves of every Poundland in the country is heaving with their myriad flavours. I actually bought this specific packet - weighing in at 31.8g - off the snack van which visits my workplace and it cost a pound - not extortionate in this modern age, but you do have to take into account the infamous economics of the snack van markup.

Looks wise, it's a nice clean design which cries simplicity with only the cursive Seabrook logo bringing any complexity to the table. The logo itself dominates the top 2/3 of the packet and underlines just how confident Seabrook are that their brand can influence a consumer into parting with their hard-earned cash. And, with the packet rustling in between my finger, I was convinced that the bag would indeed deliver on its promise to serve up "Bags of Flavour"

Seabrook's crinkle cut crisps are much smaller than their crinkly contemporaries Walkers Max and The Real McCoy's, but good things often come in small packages. And there's a charming variety to the crisps nestling in the bag, some are flat, whilst others fold over on themselves. A more unifying factor can be found in the delicately placed windows of grease and paper-thin potato windows which infiltrate the various nooks and crannies of these crinkly, golden landscapes.

The charming imperfections - found in most of the great crisp brands - were one thing, but I was here for the taste. And I don't half love a packet of salt and vinegar crisps to make my taste buds pay attention. Seabrook's entry, however, is a world away from the sharp bite and scorched earth policy of rival offerings put forwards by Walkers and The Real McCoy's.

That's not to say Seabrooks have fallen at the most important hurdle, it's simply a more muted salt and vinegar flavour, one which eschews intensity to keep the base potato flavour at the centre of the crunch. And, talking of crunch, Seabrooks crinkle cut design delivers a solid crunch. It's slightly softened by the sunflower and rapeseed oils but still conjures up a snap which pops elegantly in your mouth.

Personally, I'm more of an intensity man when it comes to salt and vinegar crisps, and I would favour some of the aforementioned alternatives before reaching for Seabrook's effort. But Seabrook does everything so well it's difficult to hold any grudges against it. In fact, given the strong potatoy notes on offer, Seabrook's sea salt and vinegar do enough to hold their own at the snack table.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, no no no. Ignore the unedifying Walkers Max/McCoys flavour arms race. Yeah, we get it, you can make people pull cartoon facial expressions. Think about how much salt & vinegar you put on chips, then the relative flavour of S&V to potato on Seabrook's. They get it bang on. And if you're not ultimately trying to recreate a bag of chip shop chips in your S&V crisps - then what on earth are you doing?

    Not everything in life is about extremes, it's sometimes about balance & harmony, and that's where Seabrook S&V lies. Balanced, zen salt & vinegar crisps.

    (Just for note, I'm not from the north - regional pride isn't at play here. Just a huge S&V crisp fan who rates these highly)