I popped my first can of Pringles when I was just a kid, and I haven't stopped for three decades. But when I discovered that there were 29 different flavors on the market -- not even counting the random holiday releases -- I realized that I'd been doing the mustachioed man on the can a huge disservice. In the interest of science, I scored every flavor currently on U.S. shelves, and, in one marathon feast of salt and seasoning, ate every single one. Here they all are, ranked.
I actually love the taste of fake bacon. I can eat Potato Skins all day. I’ll snort Bac~Os in a pinch. But, alas, these aren't bacon-y enough. They smell strongly of smoked pork, and my wife just asked me if I ate bacon. But outside the olfactory sensation, I’m not sure these taste like bacon. I feel a little deceived, but the lingering scent of bacon on my fingers is nonetheless a happy thing.
I’ve never been a big fan of jalapeño, mainly because it’s the boringest of peppers. In the world of peppers, it's Joey Fatone to habanero's Justin Timberlake. Which is to say, these taste like Joey Fatone. If that’s your thing, you’re in luck! You probably also like to ruin pizza by putting jalapeños on it, ya weirdo.
27. Multi-Grain Sour Cream & Onion
The multi-grain chips are thicker, and have a fascinating consistency that lands somewhere between a tortilla chip, a Wheat Thin, and a graham cracker, the latter augmented by a little bit of sweetness. They're actually pretty sturdy, and if you're looking for a healthier option (and by "healthy" I mean about 3% less fat per serving than regular Pringles), you've got a good option. If only it wasn't Sour Cream & Onion flavor, because...
26. Sour Cream & Onion
I know, I know. You're going to call me a contrarian, because this is an OG Pringles flavor, and because half the people reading this love Sour Cream & Onion. But I can't get past that sour milky flavor and onion powder. Ever since I was a child, this flavor has been the bane of my Pringles-loving existence. Every time they're around, I try one, just to see if my mouth has evolved. It hasn't. Have fun blasting me in the comments section. Take your sour-cream scent with you.
When people named Tiffany and Chad go on ChristianMingle dates, odds are they bond over a shared love of ranch dressing. On their second date, the server at Applebee's pretends she thinks this is cute and brings them extra ranch. They eat it out of politeness, then hold hands. Which is to say, ranch-flavored chips are perfectly fine, but incredibly boring.
24. XTRA Screamin’ Dill Pickle
The pickle and dill flavors are pretty intense at first, then they subside. And just when you think they're gone, they magically reappear on the back of your tongue. Whether or not this is a good thing depends on your feeling about pickles -- a friend of mine came by and fled with the can. For extra credit, I also tried to treat a small stack of these as a pickleback substitute. Results: not advised.
Whenever I eat something “pizza flavored,” I wonder whether those who created it ever tasted pizza. Then I realize that “pizza flavored” really just kind of means “pizza sauce flavored.” It’s kind of like a cheese-less pizza, which my Mom used to order, because she’s lactose intolerant. That these don’t rank higher is no slight to my angel of a Mother. She’s a saint. I just really like cheese, and I demand it on things labeled "pizza."
Just read down to the entry for Memphis BBQ. This is the exact opposite of that. And also really sweet. If I liked BBQ sauce, this would be a good thing. I do not like BBQ sauce. Which is why Texans punch me.
Yup. That tastes like Sriracha, which I don’t often eat because my esophagus is about as tough as yogurt. But this is milder, so I finally get to taste it. If you’re a Sriracha fan, this is your jam. If you're not, you're probably not eating these anyway.
20. Honey Mustard
These are similar in flavor to those little mustard-powdered pretzel bites that everybody loves. But in Pringles form, the mustard completely overtakes the potato and salt flavors at the core. Much like I want my snozzberries to taste like snozzberries, I want my Pringles to taste like Pringles.
19. Loaded Baked Potato
Bacon? Check. Cheese? Check. Sour cream, onion, and chive? Chiggity check. They’re all there, and they’re fighting one another for supremacy over your taste buds. Every flavor pops and then disappears, which is strange, because when a flavor bursts, it bursts hard. My theory? One of the flavors is "palate cleanser."
18. Cheddar & Sour Cream
These are definitely better than their onion-y counterparts, but the sour cream still dominates. But hey, cheddar and sour cream are a delicious combo. And the subtlety of the flavoring lets the potato-y essence of the Pringles chip shine.
17. Memphis BBQ
Usually, BBQ overtakes everything it touches. This, somehow, does not, and it’s kind of wonderful. It's not too tangy, and not overwrought on the seasoning. It’s just right, with a note of sweetness that elevates it above many BBQ chips that end up being flavor-bombs.
16. XTRA Tangy Buffalo Wing
The thought of dry hot-sauce was off-putting, but the flavor dispels all worry. In terms of flavor and authenticity, it’s pretty spot on according to my wife -- who I married partially because of her ability to crush me in chicken wing-eating.
15. Buffalo Ranch
What’s the best match for Buffalo wings? Celery! No, seriously. It’s ranch. And... well, here we go. Well done, Pringles. Well done.
14. Cheese Burger
This sounded like just about the grossest flavor of the bunch. But you know what? They taste like ketchup and cheese. And I like ketchup and cheese. These things could soon become Canada's national food.
13. Multi-Grain Farmhouse Cheddar
See? See what happens when you put something actually delicious on these multi-grain chips? Magic. That's what.
12. Salsa de Chile Habanero
I was actually a little afraid of this, because spice tends to hurt me, but it’s pretty chill. The spice is pleasant, and there’s a hint of tomato that makes it... nuanced? Sure, why not.
11. Zesty Salsa Tortillas
Damn, that tortilla's thick. Unexpectedly thick. And unexpectedly delicious. This is a rare case where I feel like there could be way more seasoning. You know when you get a Dorito that has, like, 3x too much cheese on it? Trick question, there’s no such thing as too much cheese. Every one of these chips should emulate that Dorito, because the tomato and spice is delicious, and it needs to stop being so shy.
10. Cinnamon Sugar Tortillas
All you need to know about these is that they taste remarkably similar to Cinnamon Toast Crunch. That said, you are advised not to pour milk in the can. Don't repeat my mistakes.
9. Chile y Limón
The lime is so unexpectedly delicious that I shoveled a bunch right in my mouth and forgot the chile. And now the spice has overtaken. And I don't care. Chile y limón, te amo. Pass los Tums.
8. Salt & Vinegar
A classic. And here, the vinegar and salt are more balanced than most chips of similar brininess. Pringles are not often lauded for their restraint, but here we go!
7. Zesty Southwestern Cheese
Boom. Queso-flavored chip. It’s pretty tasty, too. There's a little chili hanging out in there, and a little blast of cheese that reminds me of white cheddar mac.
6. Lightly Salted
I mean, it’s just a regular Pringle. And regular Pringles are perfect. But it has less salt, so it tastes more like potato. That’s all. It’s a regular Pringle's milquetoast older brother who's got a steady job and a 401k. He still parties, though not very often. But when he comes out, he makes the party better.
5. Chile con Queso
It’s a little strange that this tastes less like queso than Zesty Southwestern Cheese. But guess what? It tastes like stadium nacho cheese. And stadium nacho cheese is God's gift to man. Larger man, yes, but man nonetheless. This can's not long for this world.
4. French Onion Dip
French onion dip has long eluded Pringles, as dipping the delicate little crisps in thick dip tends to result in shattered chips and shattered dreams. This? This fixes everything. French Onion Pringles, Je t'aime.
3. Wasabi & Soy Sauce
Fun fact: I have been caught many times -- in childhood and in adult life -- drinking soy sauce straight from the bottle. So these are definitely my speed. Also, I’ve always wanted to ask my favorite sushi chef for a side of chips, just to see what it would taste like to dunk one in wasabi/soy. These help me accomplish that mission without getting banned from my favorite sushi shop for being an idiot. And they're just as amazing as in my dreams.
Oh, whatever. You knew this was gonna be close to the top. I don't feel like I need to explain anything aside from why it's not number 1.
1. Cheddar Cheese
Though naysayers are no doubt riled (and probably still whining about Sour Cream & Onion), I do decree that Cheddar Cheese brings out the full potential of everything Pringles can be. The flavor of the Original -- that potato taste coupled with enough salt to last Bambi a winter -- meshes beautifully with a generous dusting of bright-orange cheddar dust that melts in your mouth. When you inevitably get to the pile of broken chips at the bottom of the can, they somehow get even better. I recommend shaking the can until it's a drinkable dust of chips and cheese.
Still not convinced? Well, consider this: have you ever wondered why they always carry these on airplanes? Well, if the plane goes down, rescue workers can see the bright-orange chips from as high as 10,000ft. OK, maybe not. But they're still the best.
Extra credit: The Rainbow Stack
With all 29 flavors in front of me, I realized it would be a huge mistake not to stack one of each into one gigantic, lockjaw-inducing chip in all of its amazing technicolor glory. There were two servings' worth of Pringles with flavors like wasabi, cheese, peppers, and cinnamon commingling on my tongue -- and what did this gigantic chip taste like? Effin' BBQ and Sour Cream.