Join me, friends, as I indulge in the time-honored human pastime of figuring “The Best.” For today’s subject we are trying to figure out, “What is the best Jalapeno snack?”
Jalapenos are awesome. They are spicy, tasty, healthy, and used all over Mexican cuisine, which is one of my favorite world cuisines. More importantly, its used as a base for artificial flavoring of junk food! Why be authentic when you can have fake flavor with a higher sodium, MSG and processed carbohydrate content?
So today I’m here to pit these two Jalapeno Heavy Hitters together: Cheetos Cheddar Jalapeno Crunchy from Frito Lay’s, and Herr’s Jalapeno Poppers.
For fun, I will also test out these other two local Jalapeno snacks — Cheezy and Kruffs.
Okay, let’s get down to the business of eating. Here is a nice bowl of mixed Cheetos and Herr’s. When I ask most people what the best Jalapeno snack is, like 10/10 of them will say it’s Cheetos Cheddar Jalapeno Crunch. But I’ve always been a big fan of Herr’s as their flavors are really awesome, like their Buffalo Blue Cheese Curls.
His and Herr’s
So as fate would have it, I opened my favorite pick (yes, this is a madly-biased competition!) the Herr’s Jalapeno Poppers. I swear, when I first saw this I thought it was real Jalapeno Poppers because of the picture on the cover. When I opened I got cheese curls, and got severely disappointed. But once I bit into the first curl, my disappointment quickly disappeared into thin air. Why?
Because the FLAVOR. Herr’s makes the tastiest snacks around, I am having a trouble trying to think of any other junk food manufacturer that makes tastier junk than Herr’s. The cheese curl is made of corn but fluffed into a nice big fat puff, soft inside but crisp outside.
It’s not unlike Cheetos Cheese Puffs when it comes to texture, meaning it’s crisp but not too hard like regular Cheetos or Planter’s Cheese Curls. But all the similarities end there. Unlike Cheetos Cheese Puffs, the Herr’s version explodes with dynamite Jalapeno flavor on your first bite. Your mouth and your taste buds will flare up with a very sharp spicy spike, but after the initial spike you get to savor the rich umami flavor and a complex ride of saltiness and sourness. Then after that you feel the rich mix of cheesy tastes that burst into even more MSG-like goodness from the rich mix of Romano, Cheddar and other cheeses mixed in. Wow. Seriously. There’s nothing quite like it. It’s that good.
The taste sensation rides all the way from the first bite until well after you’ve ground the puffs into dust and swallowed them, the spicy and cheesy overtones lingering on your tongue and in your mouth long after you’ve finished your bowl. This is seriously the best cheese curl ever made. Period.
Okay. Now that I’ve had my orgasmic way with Herr’s, let’s talk about the competition. Here is the Cheetos Jalapeno offering. It’s much smaller, not just in bag size, but also in the size of the curls, which are exactly the same in size, shape and texture as the classic and now-defunct Planter’s Cheese Curls.
Now, unlike Planter’s Cheese Curls, which are terribly salty and not really that cheesy, these Cheetos are much tastier with a sharp cheesy Jalapeno zing. That’s on first bite. However, after that initial bite, you are left with a very flour-like taste. Instead of the wave of cheese and complex pepper flavors of the Herr’s curl, the flavor suddenly up and disappears with the Cheetos chip, leaving you with a very hard, not too pleasant cornmeal residue which gets stuck in your teeth easily. You end up tasting the cornmeal instead of the flavoring, and the only fix is to bite into more Cheetos to get that initial spike, but as again it quickly dissipates leaving you with more cardboard-like munchiness. It’s not that pleasing, to be honest.
So yes, there you have it. Cheetos sucks. Herr’s tramples it over, takes its name, flushes it down the toilet then slams the lid down for good measure, just before dropping in Cheetos’ pet gold fish for good measure.
This is non-negotiable people. If you don’t believe me, go ahead and buy a pack of each and come back to me with your findings. I’m sure you’ll be inclined to agree with me after an honest taste test.
The Runner Ups
Oh but let’s also talk about Cheezy and Kruffs.
Cheezy Outrageously Spicy and Cheesy
Here’s the interesting thing about these two local snacks. They are dirt cheap compared to Cheetos and Herr’s, but the flavor is actually not bad.
The Cheezy is a soft snack, it looks like a Planter’s Cheese Curl but is not as hard or crunchy. The curl sort of disappears into your mouth when you bite into it, leaving a mild cheesy flavor that is a bit spicy, but not really. It’s a nice distraction but feels like cotton candy compared to two main dishes. However, it doesn’t have that ground cornmeal taste that Cheetos has, and it actually tastes better than Cheetos in my opinion.
Kruffs, on the other hand, now here’s a very interesting character. Kruffs is shaped a lot like the Herr’s curl, however the consistency is considerably worse, being a bit hard and feeling none-so-chewy. It’s tougher, not soft and chewy inside and crisp outside, and you can really feel the structures of the cornmeal. It’s not crunchy like Cheetos, just hard and makunat (for lack of a better term — that means its hard yet not crunchy but feels a bit stale). However, the taste was considerably better than Cheezy’s and is a lot closer to Herr’s. It’s not as complex and the flavor doesn’t burst as much as Herr’s does, but the general idea of the taste is there, in similar proportions, just less of everything. At like 1/10th the price of Herr’s, this is actually a viable substitute.
So there you have it. Go for Herr’s all day. But if you can’t, here’s where I typically get these Jalapeno Cheesilicious gems:
Cheetos – you can get the Jalapeno variety for around 100-140 bucks around the Metro, at most supermarkets like Makati or South Supermarket, at SNR, or at 7-Elevens and other convenience stores nationwide.
Herr’s – these are harder to find, but I’ve seen them at Family Mart, SNR and Shop Wise. The big packs in SNR go for 300 bucks but the smaller packs in Family Mart and Shop Wise are about 180 apiece.
Cheezy – available at most convenience stores and supermarts as well, for around 25-30 bucks a bag.
Kruffs – significantly harder to find than Cheezy, but I’ve seen them at South Supermarket and at certain 7-Elevens, like the one in Northgate Filinvest. They go for 30 bucks each.
Or you can order them online!
The delicious Herr’s Jalapeno Poppers can be found here. (Disclosure: the Amazon link is an affiliate link that nets me some server maintenance if you choose to buy there. Thanks!)