Sunday 26 February 2023

SunDog: Walkers Failed Attempt at Savoury Popcorn

Well, this article isn't really about crisps, it's about a savoury popcorn snack called SunDog which was released in 1999. But SunDog was produced by Walkers and came in one of their standard crisp packets, so it's just about fair game for British Crisps. I'm not going to be reviewing SunDog as my memory, good as it is, isn't quite meticulous enough in its detail. In fact, I only ever bought one packet of SunDog - luckily, I retained the packet, hence the pictures - but somehow it managed to carve out an unmovable spot in my memory banks.

Aside from salted popcorn, savoury popcorn was somewhat of a rarity in Britain in the 1990s. This has all changed now, of course, and if you head online you can find all manner of weird and wonderful savoury popcorns waiting to tantalise your taste buds. But back in 1999, cheese popcorn sounded like an intriguing fusion to this 16-year-old. It certainly piqued my curiosity and its appearance in the local shop caused some low-level chatter amongst my peers.

Available for just 15p, this may sound like a bargain of the highest order but the bags only weighed 15g. Curiously, this weight is not listed on the bag, so I had to do some basic maths from the nutritional information to come to this figure. Regardless, 15p was nothing in 1999 and could easily be found down the back of any sofa.

The packet is a typical late 1990's design and slots seamlessly in with the rest of the Walker's range. Jack, the SunDog mascot, is generic to say the least and utterly forgettable if I'm being brutally honest. But he's kind of cute, I suppose, and his grin is cheesy if you like that sort of thing.

Although I only bought the one packet, I remember SunDog being enjoyable enough. There was a slightly synthetic cheese taste at play - imagine the aroma of a cheese football - and overall the taste was dry, but not unpleasant. Despite washing the packet out nearly 25 years ago, I decided it was worth giving it a sniff to see if any SunDog aroma had been preserved.

The packet, which has been kept flat for so long, had almost sealed itself shut again but I eventually managed to tease it open. And the scent? Uh, well, any cheese aromas had broken down over the decades into something resembling cumin, so the SunDog experience is truly trapped in the past.

As to what happened to SunDog, there's very little information about SunDog online. I did, however, manage to find an ancient article from Marketing Week online which details SunDog's inability to connect with the public. It disappeared from the shelves in early 2000 and has been barely mentioned since.

Incidentally, someone is currently selling an unopened packet on Ebay for £50 if you're feeling particularly brave. Me, though, I'll stick with my empty packet and vague memories.

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