I still remember the first day I put a Salt & Vinegar chip in my mouth. It was ninth grade, and I stayed after school for our weekly Academic Decathlon study sessions. A prerequisite for these meetings was bringing snacks, and that week Sarah brought a blue bag of Lays with the simple words Salt & Vinegar elegantly centered on the bag with a 102-point Lucida Handwriting font. Coming from an extremely protective household, chips with toppings were considered a gateway to more dangerous additives.
Once the other decathletes heard that I had never tasted a Salt & Vinegar chip they reacted with shock. “Oh my God! You’ve never tried it. It’s so good!”
“I don’t know…I don’t really like salt or vinegar that much. I don’t think I should try it.”
“Boback, you have to. Just try it. Someone pass him the bowl. I’m warning you though, not everyone truly appreciates it their first time.”
The time was 4:19 PM, and there I was with both hands wrapped around a big phat glass bowl of Salt & Vinegar chips. Its pungent odor fumed into my sinuses, beckoning me to try just one. Everyone was watching – I couldn’t back down. So I did it. I placed that first chip on my lips and inhaled deeply. There was a split second of immediate shock as the salt and vinegar mingled on each and every taste bud on my tongue. I started coughing, gasping for fresh air; everyone of course giggled at me, the novice chip-eater. As I swallowed, the chip radiated warmth throughout my body. I’m pretty sure I even felt a tingle down my spine. I collapsed into the couch and for the next 40 minutes everything in the world seemed to make complete sense. Of course, after the first chip I had to have another, then another, and soon the initial thrill along with two-thirds the bowl slowly deteriorated. It’s strange though; after I ate all those chips I had an overwhelming urge to smoke weed.
Through the rest of high school, I became addicted to Salt and Vinegar chips. Although it is not medically proven that salt and vinegar chip abuse results in physiological dependence, my chip use interfered with my social life. My friends tried to avoid me; they couldn’t stand the site of me turning countless potato chip bags inside out and eating every last morsel. In hopes of producing the perfect chip, I invested my entire savings in salt and vinegar, and started growing spuds in my basement. My parents became increasingly worried and even took me to a doctor, the urine samples turned up positive for excessive sodium and acetic acid. They ended up searching my room and found all the chip dishes I made in ceramics. I tried to explain that “I just like the look of finely sculpted pottery” but they didn’t buy it.
Since my first experience, I have never been able to recreate that initial, if you will, “high.” My friends sympathized with my predicament and took me for a trip up to Humboldt to try and get the magic back. We got some Sea Salt and Malt Vinegar Kettle Chips. I was optimistic; they had the perfect smell, they had the look. So we took a couple rips from the tater-load. It was better than the Lays I had that morning but something was still missing. Don’t get me wrong. I still love my chips, but nothing will compare to my first day with Salty V.