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Walkers Crisps – Tried and Tasted

Recently snack giant Walkers announced a change in its crisp production. In the spirit of these more health-aware times they have reduced the sodium and cut saturated fat content by 70% compared to 2003 levels.

Though efforts have been made before to make crisps healthier through advances in methods and following public pressure; this is probably the biggest leap for some time.

We have tested the popular variety packs of the old style crisps, the new Sunseed generation and the Lites! brand to see if the healthier Walkers are still the leaders of the packs.

Table 1: Walkers Ready Salted Crisps Compared
Product Ready Salted (Old style) Ready Salted (Sunseed) Ready Salted Lites!
  Walkers Crisps Walkers Sunseed Walkers Lites!
Conclusion For many people the archetypal 'plain' crisp. A good solid start to the taste test. Nothing extraordinary; no complaints. Slightly more greasy and salty than the old style pack but still as satisfying and inoffensive as ever. According to the team, everything you would expect from something "Lite". Paler, dry & tasteless though with some degree less fat.
Serving Size 25g Pack 25g Pack 24g Pack
Calories (kcal) 133 133 113
Fat (g) 8.5 8.5 5.3
Table 2: Walkers Salt and Vinegar Crisps Compared
Product Salt & Vinegar (Old style) Salt & Vinegar (Sunseed) Salt & Vinegar Lites!
  Walkers Salt and Vinegar Crisps Walkers Sunseed Walkers Lites!
Conclusion May be quite a strong, harsh flavour for some but very popular among the team. Also indistinguishable from it's non-Sunseeded brother. Also full of flavour and satisfying. Like a watered down almost "stale" version of the standard crisps. Quite disappointing when tasting these last of the three.
Serving Size 25g Pack 25g Pack 24g Pack
Calories (per serving) 131 131 114
Fat (g) (per serving) 8.3 8.3 5.3
Table 3: Walkers Cheese and Onion Crisps Compared
Product Cheese & Onion (Old style) Cheese & Onion (Sunseed) Cheese & Onion Lites!
  Walkers Cheese and Onion Crisps Walkers Sunseed Crisps Walkers Lites Crisps
Conclusion Many members of the team were surprised at the "blandness" and lack of flavour. There was a suggestion that Walkers had tried to "over-flavour" this crisp which had resulted in a "chemically" taste. Like a very bland, stripped down version of the old style crisps. Not very appealing or satisfying for the tasters.
Serving Size 25g Pack 25g Pack 24g Pack
Calories (per serving) 131 131 113
Fat (g) (per serving) 8.3 8.3 5.0
Table 4: Walkers Prawn Cocktail Crisps Compared
Product Prawn Cocktail (Old style) Prawn Cocktail (Sunseed)
  Walkers Prawn Cocktail Crisps Walkers Sunseed Crisps
Conclusion Generally pleasing to the testers. No real complaints here though quite a strong flavour for some. Again, no discernable difference between the two. Like most of the other flavours, you would be forgiven for thinking they had come from the same packet.
Serving Size 25g Pack 25g Pack
Calories (per serving) 131 131
Fat (g) (per serving) 8.3 8.3

Walkers have succeeded in at least one of their goals: reduced sodium and saturated fat levels with very little affect on flavour.

The winners here seem to have been salt & vinegar and, recently promoted to the 'main' variety-pack, prawn cocktail.

Although the panel could not pick out which were the new style crisps they could all identify, and would mostly avoid, the Lites brand.

Some dietitians warn that benefits of 'sunseed' oil may be lost during the cooking process. Plus, although the fats are 'better' for you, there is still quite a lot of fat in all these crisps. But, however small an increase in how healthy these snacks are, if we consider their popularity and market share it has to be a positive step for the nation's health.

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