Wednesday 3 May 2023

McCoy's Sizzling King Prawn

There's nothing that turns heads quite like a meal which sizzles, just look at the frisson of excitement  which erupts when sizzling beef is served tableside in a Chinese restaurant. The sight, the sound and the smell is enough to have you salivating like a bulldog gazing in at a butcher's window. But can you capture this gustatory magic in a packet of crisps? Well, McCoy's hope that their Sizzling King Prawn crisps can, and British Crisps is going to be the judge of this.

Part of McCoy's Ridge Cut Spicy Flavours range, these Sizzling King Prawn crisps were first released in January 2009. Somehow, despite being a big McCoy's fan, I hadn't managed to cross paths with this intriguing flavour. Mind you, it's difficult to be swayed away from their holy trinity of Flame Grilled Steak, Salt & Malt Vinegar and Cheddar & Onion. But it's important to step out of your comfort zone and try something different so, for the princely sum of £1, I quite literally grabbed a 45g Grab Bag.

The packaging for McCoy's hasn't, during the 21st century, changed dramatically, so you know exactly what you're going to get. Big and bold are the central themes of the design and that's exactly what it delivers. The iconic McCoy's logo dominates the packet and, against the fiery rose background, pops like never before. McCoy's could easily produce winning packet designs in their sleep, so it's an early result for them here.

What, though, would the contents of the packet serve up? After all, following the extraordinary gustatory revelation of Brown Bag's Tiger Prawn, the bar had been raised. Naturally, I didn't expect McCoy's to match this as they're very different brands. They've long been a crowd pleaser rather than an artisanal treat, more of a Micky Flanagan than a Stewart Lee. But who knows, maybe McCoy's would serve up a seafood snack worthy of a place on Scotts of Mayfair's menu.

As ever, British Crisps dives in with a snouty sniff test and... yes, there's prawn in the air! It doesn't singe the inside of your nasal cavity and induce tears like Walkers Prawn Cocktail, but neither is it a mild, polite flavour that your mother would love you to bring home for dinner. Instead, it's a solid prawn fragrance, you wouldn't write home about it but neither would you leave a scathing Amazon review.

The visuals, well, these are McCoy's. Packed full of rugged ridges, much like the Pennines but without the drizzle, these crisps leave no doubt as to the power of their crunch. And the colouring? They're a beautiful sunset colour, shaded in ferociously by a generous amount of King Prawn seasoning. Much like a prawn to a grizzly fisherman's net, you'll be drawn in with ease.

And from the first to the very last bite, these Sizzling King Prawn crisps exert a mighty crunch. They fracture pleasingly in the mouth, cleanly and satisfying. But do they sizzle? Uh... no. Whilst smoke flavouring is listed in the ingredients on the packet, this is far from evident on the tastebuds. It's a result which disappoints, but McCoy's are always reliable and, thankfully, they come good on the prawn front.

The crisps have a strong prawn flavour, not dissimilar to a supermarket 'finest range' king prawn. And, like a painter and decorator trying to quickly finish a wallpapering job on a Friday afternoon, the prawn flavour coats the entirety of your mouth within seconds. There's a satisfying, sweet edge to the flavouring, and for those of you with delicate palates, you'll be pleased to know there's little to no acidic tang to leave your tongue limbo dancing. The potato flavour, which is somewhat lost amongst all the prawn, is typical McCoy's, being all salty and creamy.

McCoy's Sizzling King Prawn crisps may fail to deliver on the excitement conjured up by their sizzling credentials, but everything else is realised in a manner which highlights their mainstream appeal. An excellent entry in the prawn flavour category, I'm glad I finally caught up with them.

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