Chips might not inspire the same sort of die-hard fans and regional rivalries as, say, pizza or barbecue, but when it comes to cookouts' best companion, there's a whole lot of local flavor tucked into snack aisles around the country. Here's a look at some of the best—and most unique—crunchers around the United States.
Caroline Coral is a food and travel writer who splits her time between Philadelphia and the Caribbean. Follow her on Instagram at @caroline.f.coral.
Rusty's Island Chips
Another from the O.C., these chips come from an independent operation that prides itself on hand-slicing potatoes grown in Bakersfield, California, and dusting them with Mediterranean sea salt before individually packing each bag. Rusty's owes its darker color and nuttier flavor to the fact that the potatoes aren't processed before they're fried.
Rusty's Island Chips, $4
Photo: Rusty's Chips via Facebook
Made in Hanover, Pennsylvania, these chips have a die-hard fan base both in state and neighboring. Delicate and airy, Utz's "The Crab Chip" taters don't include any crustaceans in the ingredients list; instead, they're seasoned with a riff on Old Bay. Recently, Utz rolled out a line of Grillin' Classics featuring chips flavored like hot dogs and hamburgers.
Utz "The Crab Chip" Potato Chips, $8.50
Photo: Utz via Facebook
Hailing from Arizona, these kettle-cooked, thick-cut chips are marked by an anthropomorphic cactus that looks like it's bursting out of the bag. Given its Southwestern origins, Poore Brothers packs in the heat with a bunch of piquant varieties, including jalapeño, habanero and three-cheese jalapeño.
Poore Brothers Habanero Chips, $31 for a box of 72
Photo: Poore Brothers via Facebook
Have'A Corn Chips
Residents of sunny SoCal will know these throwback corn chips, which are packaged in clear cellophane bags with a bright yellow-and-blue label. These soy-and-lime-tinged chips made their debut in Orange County back in the 70s and have been going strong ever since.
Have'A Corn Chips, $2
As far back as 1941, this family-run snack company was selling homemade chips at farmers' markets in York, Pennsylvania. These days, production is up to one million bags a month. Martin's Red Hot chips are downright demonic, with an ultra-recognizable label depicting a bubbling cauldron and flames rising from the bottom of the bag.
Martin's Kettle-Cook'd Potato Chips, $25 for a 3 lb. box
With more than a century of snack making under its belt (since 1910), this Midwest chip champ fave stays true to its Ohio roots and goes full Cincinnati with chili-and-cheese chips. It's also well known for its Groovy variety of ridged chips.
Mikesell's Groovy Potato Chips, $20 for 6
This Big Island producer specializes in chips rarely found on the mainland. Crisps of purple sweet potato and speckled taro are sold under the Hawai'i Island label, while Local Kine chips are tossed with
furikake or a mix of ginger and garlic.
Hawai'i Island Ginger Garlic Sweet Potato Chips, $6
Photo: Hawai'i Island
This NOLA-based potato chip company fully embraces its Louisiana roots. Zapp's roster includes classics like salt and vinegar and jalapeño chips alongside Big Easy-inspired creations like Sour Cream & Creole Onion, Cajun Dill Gator-Tators and Spicy Cajun Crawtators dusted with crawfish boil seasoning.
Zapp's New Orleans Style Potato Chips, $28 for a box of 25
Photo: Zapp's Chips via Facbook