I like to pretend to myself that I am a man of few vices. I drink alcohol, though seldom excessively. I do no other drugs. I am in control of my temper. I do not womanize, I do not gamble, I am punctual, and I do not spend excessively. I have a healthy diet for the most part, primarily because I love vegetables and don’t like cheese, salad dressing, condiments, or dessert.

However, there are two things which I can definitely say are vices:

1) Dr. Pepper

2) Potato Chips

Now, ranking the top five Dr. Peppers I’ve ever enjoyed would be impossible, as each one surpasses the previous one. But there are many varieties of potato chips, and I eat so many that I estimate I’ve cost my heart about three years of lifespan. Unless artificial heart technology is ready by the year 2028 or potato chip manufacturing becomes a lost, arcane art in the next couple of years, potato chips will be the death of me.

With that in mind, here are the top five potato chips I’ve ever tasted:

5: Lays Classic Potato Chips: Readily available, greasy, salty, over forty percent of the chip’s weight has to be grease.

4: Cape Cod Potato Chips: Also available at most grocery stores, this is the last of the readily available potato chips on my list. Cape Cod makes a variety of potato chips, each with fancy names, but their plain chips are the best. Flavoring on a potato chip always falls flat; the goodness of barbecue sauce or sour cream and onion, much less “sea salt and vinegar” simply cannot be conveyed with a cheap powder.

3: Ole Salty’s Potato Slices: As a surly teenager in rural Illinois, Ole Salty was one of the few pleasures I enjoyed. Please do not infer sexual innuendo into that statement; it refers only to the simple joy of eating a nice, thick, salty potato chip.

2: The chips at the Bitter End, Austin, Texas.

Crunchy, hearty flavor. Heavily salted in an effort to get you to buy beer. Dark, robust color. Magnifico!

1: The Bar at Harry Caray’s Restaurant in Chicago.

I’ve only been there once, in late April of 1992. It was a surprise visit to Chicago, and I was lucky enough to convince my mom to go with me to a Cubs game. Afterwards we took a taxi to Harry Caray’s, but we were dressed like slobs so we couldn’t get in to the actual restaurant. However, a memorable treat awaited me at the bar — the free potato chips they served! I loved them so much I took a bag back to Texas with me; by the time I got home the whole bag was soaked with grease. The chips were magnificent.

UPDATE: The View From the Bleachers may fall short on journalistic quality in other ways, but we always correct our mistakes when informed about them. I was there twice.

On a day when a division rival acquires Carlos Beltran and the Cubs lose 4-0 to the division-leading Cardinals, comfort can only be found in vegetable oil, salt, and potatoes.

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