Cast your eye over the weekly television schedules and you'll doubtless find at least one list show. You know the sort of thing; the 100 greatest televised executions, the 50 most hilarious things to do with rawl plugs and so on. Let's speak plainly: it's sheer laziness, naught but a symptom of creative bankruptcy on the part of callow and blasé TV execs, designed to keep the bovine, Crispy Pancake-munching masses occupied while another three or four hours of their pedestrian little existences plop off the calendar. With that in mind it is my great pleasure to present:
PETE'S TOP SIX FLAVOURS OF CRISP, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER.
This list is by no means exhaustive, or even particularly well thought through. But if there's one thing I know, and know well, it is crisps. Crisps, underground hip hop, comics, spelling and zombie movies. Esoteric knowledge to be sure, but that's the hand I've been dealt. Don't you judge me.
1. Flame Grilled Steak McCoy's.
Marketing is very important to all products and crisps are no exception. McCoy's advertising claims that these are the crisp of choice for lumberjacks, backwoodsmen, arctic explorers and generally outdoorsy types. Since I'm as impressionable as an unset blancmange I accept this without comment, and so should you. These are a man's crisp, as demonstrated by their mighty ridges and beefy flavour. I've found that they are very good to eat whilst engaged in the physical act of love as the sheer volume of testosterone contained in a single McCoy is enough to keep you standing proud for many a long hour. They also impart the ability to ignore your girlfriend's customary tears of sorrow at the crashing let-down that is your relationship, leaving you with the mental fortitude necessary to really get stuck in.
2. Walker's Sweet Chilli Essentials.
One of the more middle class entries on the list, Essentials crisps are designed to be eaten from bowls in expensively furnished warehouse conversion flats by the sort of people who eat in gastro pubs and drink Guinness extra cold. You know... dickheads. Well that may be the intention but here's the reality; chilli Essentials are eaten by me, in front of crap horror movies, by the gigantic bagful. I can take down a large packet of these things without trying, without even breaking a sweat. You can also get them in standard bags, although for me that's like taking a girl's knickers off, opening her legs, having a bit of a sniff and then leaving to do a spot of wallpapering.
3. Spicy Transform-A-Snack.
A firm childhood favourite. Helped by the Transformers bandwagon that rumbled across the planet around twenty years ago, Spicy Transform-A-Snack merged the disparate realms of toys and crisps into one delicious, playful whole. Using four of the rings and one of the body bits you too could create your own Captain Whateverthefuckhisnamewas, robotic space adventurer and professional maize-based snack item. Possibly they were hoping that the children of the nation would latch onto this gimmick and that Transform-A-Snack would become the next big craze. It didn't happen, mainly because at the end of the day all you were doing was jamming five crisps together into a vaguely humanoid form and then eating them. Still, with their artificial taste - so redolent of September schooldays, Commodore Amigas and humiliatingly brutal games lessons - Transform-A-Snack remain a flavoursome and unusual crisp. There was also an onion flavour, but that was just for dirty pinko Commies.
4. Barbecue Pringles.
Less of a crisp, more of a social disease, Pringles are like crack cocaine. There are documented examples of perfectly normal, perfectly contented citizens making the mistake of trying one Pringle at a party or funeral and then turning up three months later, wearing ragged clothes and covered in livid purple bruises, sucking cock in an alley for Pringle money. Once the lid is off it's nigh-impossible to stop; I once saw a broken old man (who had had his jaw wired shut in an effort to curtail his Pringholism) mashing the Pringles into his bleeding face, weeping like a child. I now notice that they've released a new line: gourmet Pringles. Get thee behind me, Satan!
5. Walker's Beef & Onion.
Sometimes I long for simpler days, before this entire kettle chip, hint of lime, lavender-scented potato wedge business started. There used to be half a dozen flavours of crisp, just like there used to be three flavours of ice cream. But about five years ago a collective mania gripped the crisp industry; they started to believe that crisps should become some fancy, high-falutin' hors d'oeuvre instead of a tasty mobile snack and lunchbox filler. Walker's B&O are a simple crisp done well, and for that I salute them; unfortunately, it's looking like they've replaced them with some sort of spurious steak flavour, in which case I'm going to suicide bomb their factory. Jihad!
6. Flamin' Hot Monster Munch.
It's a little known fact, but the monster munch monsters actually exist. They were originally a branch of humanity that shunned the surface and chose to live in the fiery bowels of the earth, where they existed for 10,000 years in relative peace. Then, in the late twentieth century, geological scientists working for Smith's crisps discovered the creatures, who initially attempted to make friends with them. The scientists, however, were under strict orders to retrieve the creatures for the Marketing and Bioweapons division. And thus began the secret war, a war that ended with half the monster population enslaved and the other half dead. Now, the monsters are imprisoned and subjected to barbarically unnecessary experiments, breaking occasionally to film an advert. They were trained (read: savagely beaten) to speak English, in the hope that they would be able to say their own lines, thereby negating the need for a voiceover. Unfortunately, this plan was scuppered by the monsterish habit of shunning the script as written and instead praying for their children and pleading for death.
This was originally going to be a top ten, but even I'm hard pressed to think of ten flavours of crisp that I like and could feasibly be funny about. But I don't want you to go away feeling short changed (at least, no more so than usual) so here's:
TWO FLAVOURS OF CRISP THAT YOU WOULD DO WELL TO AVOID.
1. Tesco Pork & Apple.
I got these fuckers in a multipack that I spotted whilst in my local branch of Beelzebub (read: Tesco). They taste of neither pork nor apple. Instead they taste of rectums and U-bend matter. The worst of it was that I had three bags of the cunts, along with some other desultory attempts at interesting flavours that, due to my financially-restricted situation, I was forced to endure. I see that as a breach of my human rights. For shame, Tesco. For shame.
2. Vanilla Ice Cream Monster Munch.
What fresh lunacy is this? I can only assume that this abomination came about as result of a nervous breakdown on the part of a Smith's employee. One day he's fine, the next he's bollock naked in the car park, stabbing himself in the neck with a rusty compass and screaming about lizards. But before they got to him he must have set the wheels that produced this sorry creation in motion. Aren't there checks and balances to prevent this sort of thing form happening? Or were they just joking? Because I didn't see the funny side, let me tell you.
So what have we learned from all this? I feel it is important that we finish on some sort of educational note, that everyone leaves slightly better than they arrived. Well, I think the lesson is this: there are many types of crisp, as many as there are stars in the sky. Some are potato, some are corn, some are meaty, some are cheesy; all are different, and the important thing is to keep going until you find the crisp that is right for you. I know it can be daunting, maybe even a little scary, but with courage and perseverance we will all, God willing, find that special flavour. And, as ever, keep in mind the first rule of the true crisp connoisseur: always wear a condom.
Sleep well, my children.