Walkers Crisps, made by Walkers Snack Foods Ltd, are the most popular brand of crisp in the UK. The founder of the company, Henry Walker, was originally a pork butcher in the 1880’s. During the Second World War, meat was very scarce, Walkers shops were sold out by 10am every day leaving the factory working at 50 percent capacity. The company’s managing director at the time, R.E. Gerrard, considered other uses for the factory, such as ice cream production. Eventually a decision was made, the company began making potato crisps, which were not rationed but also popular. Today, Walkers crisps are produced in Leicester, Swansea and Peterlee in County Durham.

Product Range

  • Walker – Ready Salted, Salt and Vinegar, Cheese and Onion, Barbecue, Cheese & Chives
  • Walkers Lite – Low fat version of the main Walker brands.
  • Walkers Max – Low fat, big bags with flavours such as “Punching Paprika”, “Screaming Salt and Vinegar” and “Hard Cheese and Onion”.
  • Quavers – Cheese, Salt & Vinegar and Prawn Cocktail flavours.
  • French Fries – Ready Salted, Cheese and Onion, and Salt & Vinegar flavours.
  • Monster Munch – Pickled Onion.
  • Doritos.

How the Crisps are made

Crisp production at Walkers can be split into 4 stages: Potato Preparation, Slicing & Washing, Cooking & Flavouring, and Quality & Value.

Potato Preparation

  • Potatoes released from a hopper pass through a cleaner which cleans the mud off the potatoes, along with any other surface matter.
  • Stones removed from the mixture.
  • All Potatoes cut down to below 80mm, and smaller ones rejected.

Slicing & Washing

  • Potatoes sliced into crisp thickness
  • Potatoes washed twice in cold water to remove starch
  • “Airblower” then removes excess water

Cooking & Flavouring

  • Slices immersed into the oil and then float.
  • When 90% of water has evaporated slices are fully immersed into the 4500 litre cooker at a temperature of 360 degrees.
  • Process is “hooded” so only clean steam enters the atmosphere.
  • Crisps are flavoured using powdered flavouring sprinkled from rotating drum.

Quality & Value

  • Weighing machines automatically calculate best combination to fit into packet at the required weight.
  • Bags are sealed and separated to emerge as a normal packet of crisps.

The End

I enjoy Walkers very much, but other brands such as Golden Wonder are creating good combination especially with their hot and spicy flavours.

Back in the 1970s / 1980s, Walkers Crisps packets used to have facts from the Guinness Book of Records on the back, giving you something to read while you ate, though repetition was obviously a problem. The packets at that time were transparent in places, so you could see the crisps you were buying (i.e. keep an eye out for packets with abnormally huge crisps inside, or unpleasant-looking green crisps). Nowadays, the contents are hidden from view, so crisp-buying is always a gamble. The records have been replaced by various special offers - Free Books for Schools is a recurring example.

Walkers crisps, whilst extremely pleasant especially when supplied in large bags in the pub, are the bane of all instinctive crisp buyers in Britain today. They have made one fundamental error... Salt and Vinegar and Cheese and Onion are the wrong colours!

As comedian Harry Hill points out, "It's green for cheese and onion, blue for salt and vinegar!" Indeed, that is the way it is done by everyone else, and for once confomity is good because that is the way it should be done. Walkers fly in the face of tradition with their blue cheese and onion and their green salt and vinegar.

To explain my position further, you need to see that, for me:

Blue = Seaside = Salt and Vinegar
and
Green = erm... mouldy cheese = Cheese and Onion

There, it's simple. Conclusive, logical, watertight proof.

END RANT...

It's interesting to note that even the tabloid newspapers agree with me and Harry Hill on this issue, albeit they think it's because of European legislation to standardise the colours of packaging across Europe. This is of course a myth perpetuated by staunchly nationalist press - just like the stories about standard curves for bananas.

Further reasons not to buy Walkers crisps (if you can get over the fact that they're pretty tasty), are that their cheese and onion flavour isn't vegetarian and that they're advertised with a particularly irritating no more Mr. Niceguy campaign, fronted by former England footballer Gary Lineker.

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