If you’re in the UK, it surely can’t have escaped your notice that Walkers have been trialling six new crisp flavours since 9 January and are inviting the public to choose which one’s to go on sale permanently.
The six flavours are:
- Builder’s Breakfast – egg, bacon, sausage and beans
- Cajun Squirrel (looks as if the campaign to save Tufty by eating grey squirrels is gaining ground)
- Chilli and Chocolate
- Crispy Duck and Hoisin
- Fish & Chips (Hmm… given that the crisps already taste of potatoes, doesn’t this make them simply fish flavour?)
- Onion Bhaji
The flavours were chosen by a panel of judges headed by Heston Blumenthal, from thousands of ideas submitted by the public. The winning idea will get the person who came up with it quite a prize: a £50,000 lump sum, plus 1% royalties of all sales of that flavour. If it proves popular enough, that could be quite a healthy income – Walkers produce over 11 million bags of crisps a day.
(I wonder if Heston Blumenthal’s involvement is the “big initiative” reported on byThe Guardian in June last year? If so, I’m not sure where the “healthy eating” bit comes in…)
The competition is a good chance for the pub industry to boost its takings, too. Morning Advertiser, the biggest magazine for the pub trade, quotes a Walkers bigwig as saying: “With such innovative and unique flavours, everyone is going to be really keen to try them for themselves and there will be real demand in the impulse channel.”
But it’s not just those directly in the trade who are promoting the competition. The Federation of Master Builders has been calling on its members – and the public – to vote for the Builder’s Breakfast flavour!
There’s been a fair stir in the media, too. (It must be a slow news week.) The Sun made a big thing of the Cajun Squirrel flavour – “Squirrel-eating died out in Britain in the 1800s, but toffs’ dinner parties have put it back on the menu” – but reported Walkers’ insistence that the crisps really are vegetarian.
Not only are they vegetarian, but they’re increasingly eco-friendly. Walkers have been working with the Carbon Trust to make their production increasingly energy efficient. In the process they uncovered some startling facts; for instance, their policy of buying by weight meant that suppliers were keeping their storage facilities artificially humid to prevent their potatoes losing moisture – moisture which then had to be fried off, causing even more energy wastage.
They’re not about to switch to organic potatoes, though. Production of their preferred varieties of potato in the UK just isn’t high enough. So although a switch would mean losing the climate impact of fertilisers (nitrous oxide, which has 300 times the greenhouse effect that carbon dioxide does), that would be more than offset by the environmental cost of transporting the spuds to Leicester.
You can find out more, and vote for your favoured flavour, on the Walkers website:
Walkers “Do Us A Flavour” Competition