Lame Marketing, Decent Chips

Quaker Tortillaz Air Baked Rice and Corn Crisps

Quaker Tortillaz Air Baked Rice and Corn Crisps

I Paid: $1.89 for a 3.03-ounce bag (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 3 stars

Marketing: 2 stars

There's something about the name of Quaker's new "air baked rice and corn crisps" that invites instant suspicion. Tortillaz. Really? Tortillas ... with a z? This kind of desperate coolization of an otherwise not particularly cool product recalls Poochie, the trying-too-hard, sunglasses-wearing talking dog brought in to save The Itchy & Scratchy Show from a bout of bad ratings.

However, if there's one thing I've learned over the course of eating and evaluating several hundred different prepackaged food items, it's that the connection between marketing and flavor is loose to nonexistent. Tortillaz are unlikely to become America's go-to chips, but for a relatively low-fat choice, they're not too bad. The texture is extremely light and crisp, and while the Zesty Guacamole flavor tastes eerily close to seaweed, the Cheesy Nacho variety had some actual cheese punch and a low-grade addictiveness that's ideal for a snack product.

The brand's market position is something of a curiosity: It walks a fine line between diet/health food and junk/snack food. Whether that's something consumers can embrace or whether it'll fry people's minds and send them stumbling down the aisle for Pringles is yet to be seen.

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow Chowhound on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.

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