Caffeinated chips are a 21st century snack food meant to give you a caffeine boost from snacking. The products have not yet met with wide success, despite heavy marketing campaigns aimed at teenagers and video gamers. Health experts warn that the combining the high fat and caloric contents of potato chips with the added buzz of caffeine is hardly the healthiest choice for your body, but this novelty snack might be worth a try.
For those who don’t like getting their caffeine from coffee or tea, a range of products has sprung up in the last few years. It seems like everything from oatmeal to bottled water is now available in a caffeine-added version. Potato chips with added caffeine were perhaps an inevitable extension of this growing market. In 2007, Golden Flake Snack Foods Inc. released NRG Chips™ in two flavors, Phoenix Fury and Overload.
NRG chips have several ingredients in them meant to boost energy. In addition to caffeine, the caffeinated chips contain B vitamins and taurine, an organic acid popular in energy drinks due to its reputation as a muscle-fatigue reducer. The company will not release exactly how much caffeine is in the chips, saying it is approximately equivalent to 3.5 cups of coffee. This reference is fairly vague, as it doesn’t specify the size of the “cups.”
In April, a competing brand of caffeinated chips was introduced by Rudolph Foods Company, Inc. Marketed as Engobi™, short for "Energy Go Bites," the chips come in Cinnamon Surge and Lemon Lift flavors. One reviewer compared the taste to similarly flavored cereals. These caffeinated chips boast 140 mg of caffeine per snack-sized bag.
Engobi caffeinated chips have been marketed throughout the United States as a tie-in to the popular video game Guitar Hero. The company has sponsored large-city video game competitions in order to win Guitar Hero gear and equipment emblazoned with the Engobi label. The city promotional tours also bring several young female models along, to add to the appeal.
Potato chips infused with caffeine is enough to start eyes rolling among many health experts. In the United States, where obesity has become a major problem, caffeinated chips hardly serve as a beacon of hope for a more food-sensible generation. Caffeinated chips are hardly calorie savers, containing between 140-250 calories and 11-16 grams of fat per small bag. While a moderate amount of caffeine has not been shown to cause adverse effects in healthy adults, some evidence suggests that it may be harmful to children or those with diabetes. In a snack market filled with caffeinated beverages, you might ask if these jitter-inducing chips are truly a necessary addition.
Still, caffeinated chips might be worth a shot, if only to be able to say you have tried them. Engobi™ chips are available nationwide, while for the moment NRG Chips™ are only available in the Southeastern United States. They may go the way of crystal-clear colas or colored ketchup, but for chip fans they might be worth an indulgence.