It was a lazy Tuesday and I was running errands with my son, Grayson. He’s right on the cusp of three years old and is a busy guy these days. Shopping in particular can be a hassle between corralling him and negotiating terms over what he can and cannot have. That morning he was particularly unruly, knowing he’d have to wait through grocery shopping before finally going to the toy store for more plastic dinosaurs. So when he made a fuss over a familiar looking snack food I’ll admit that I probably capitulated too fast.
After his dinosaurs had been purchased my son immediately demanded the aforementioned All Dressed Crispers. Regardless of whether he was attracted by the metallic purple packaging or just plain hangry, I complied. Crisper after Crisper, Grayson slammed ten of these crips within a time frame I would later describe to my wife as “worrisome.” Confiscating these Crispers was interpreted as an act of war and by the time the dust had finally settled I was left with only one question.
What the f**k are Crispers?
Crispers are a nostalgic snack food common to Canadian grocery stores and gas stations. I say “nostalgic” because they arrived right around the 90s trend of assuming certain fats were the enemy. Still marketed today as a “great snack alternative” by Christie, these chip crackers are baked, not fried. Crispers contain 0 trans fat, are cholesterol-free, and are low in saturated fat. Let’s not bury the lead though.
Crispers hold a curious shelf-space in most shops. They aren’t near the crackers or the chips in any store shelves I’ve seen. In fact, Grayson found them because they were right at his height, stacked under the nut mixes and rice cakes. With flavors like Dill Pickle, Ranch, Salt & Vinegar, Barbecue, and All Dressed, it’s clear Christie is trying to compete with potato chips but why the weird placement? I think I cracked the code.
If crackers are baked dough and chips are fried potatoes what would you consider a baked paste of wheat, potatoes, corn, barley, soy, and thirty-six other ingredients? I guess you call it a Crisper. With fun-sounding preservatives like sodium metabisulphite and favour protectors like soya lecithin, the Crispers ingredients list reads a bit like a chemistry set. All the better to keep longer on store shelves for ravenous toddlers and late-night stoners. In contrast, most brands of potato chip have four to sixteen fairly mundane ingredients. But are the Crispers actually healthier?
No. Of course they aren’t.
In the 175g resealable pouch of All Dressed Crispers I bought Grayson were approximately 132 of what I can only call franken-crisps — about 875 calories, 39.4g of fat, 1.3g of sodium, and 113.75g of carbohydrates. A bag of All Dressed Crispers is about as healthy as a bag of Ruffles All Dressed potato chips. You could make the argument that a higher fibre content means Crispers might be more filling, but the “great snack alternative” claim doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.
Given that Grayson went hog on these little crisps faster than I could reseal the package I don’t think Crispers will be making any future appearances in our shopping cart. Much to his chagrin, I’m sure. As an ignorant father I assumed Crispers to be a healthy-ish cracker only to find out they aren’t even crackers. They are a mad scientist’s snack food, if you can even call them food. I’m not sure you can. After hours of hard reflection I now see them as wavy pieces of baked slop which, frankly, do taste pretty darn good.