Forget eggs, this Easter was all about crisps.
Thanks to Richard Osman reviving Loaded’s original World Cup of crisps feature, over a million votes were cast as Twitter exploded with passion over Britain’s favourite crisp.
A host of celebrities got involved in voting, as Dara O’Briain (unsuccessfully) tried rallying Irish voters behind Ireland’s sole representative, Tayto cheese and onion.
Eventually, pickled onion Monster Munch was declared victor. A terrible win, as Loaded reckons losing second round contender roast beef Monster Munch should have triumphed. And Pointless host Osman’s tournament should have been declared invalid the moment Worcester sauce French Fries didn’t make the 48-strong first round.
Still, his tournament raised money for children’s family charity Child’s i Foundation, so he gets a free pass.
“I wouldn’t have any ideas if it wasn’t for Loaded” – Richard Osman
The original feature appeared in the September 1994 issue of Loaded, written by Adam Black, now managing director of German property hedge fund Schwarzmilan.
“We rang up the White House and the Vatican asking for the President and Pope’s favourite crisps,” recalls Black. “One writer was sick in a bin, and we soon realised that crisps and beer wasn’t a healthy diet.”
Black is dismissive of the new World Cup winner. “McCoys are a hefty item,” he enthuses. “They’re good if you’ve got a dip to hand and they’re filling enough to make a lunch substitute. What can you do with Monster Munch, other than put them on your fingers?”
Loaded went on to host similar World Cups on chocolate, vodka and even ice-lollies; Osman has also hosted a World Cup of chocolate vote on Twitter and admits “I wouldn’t have any ideas if it wasn’t for Loaded.”
But, back when Pringles were still new and nobody was sure if Doritos qualified as a crisp (it shouldn’t), the winner was a crisp that’s still an office favourite all these years later…
After a violent dispute in the loaded office about the merits of Kettle Chips compared to Walkers (“They’re a quality crisp ” “Fuck off, that’s what they gave people in the ’40s instead of crisps. They’re shit.”) Loaded decided to settle the matter in front of a panel of experienced judges. Welcome to the first Crisp World Cup. Not so much hands across the globe as hands across the off-licence counter.
The panel of armchair experts: James Brown, Tim Southwell, Martin Deeson, Adam Black and Filthy Clarke.
Our intention: to fairly and squarely run a competitive tournament based around the merits of each different crunchy potato crisp. No snacks or corn munchies were allowed, though a couple of bogus entrants did manage to slip in. No bias from the panel-members who would take it in turns to pair up for the snack to snack face-offs and decide which were the best. If there was a tie, an adjudicator would be called in.
The early favourites for the final were Walkers cheese and onion and Pringles original.
The arguments start even before the kick off. “I think KP are like Romania, an outside bet.” “No, I like roast beef, straight up.” “But they’re purple!” “There aren’t any Seabrooks smokey bacon! It’s a damn shame, it’s like England not qualifying.” “Tell you what, we haven’t got any Doritos, either.” “Have we got any tomato flavour?” “No, the Italians haven’t qualified.”
It’s 9.00pm, the night before the deadline, and we can’t even decide how we’re going to run the tournament, but we know it has to be done.
“So how do we choose which ones to throw out?” “Well what happens in the real World Cup?” “They play four years of qualifying rounds.”
Half an hour and several beers later it’s sorted and we’re wanning up with a packet of Walkers ready salted … “Ole Ole Ole Ola.” Time for the off.
McCoys chilli vs jalapeno jack Kettle Chips gets things under way. The first game is clouded in controversy with no one knowing what jalapeno jack is and as it takes 20 minutes to judge, faces drop as we realise we’re going to be here all night. The editor’s seeing stars and we’re getting the crisps dope tested. The snack off continues.
Tavern prawn cocktail triumph over Golden Wonder prawn cocktail with Golden Wonder smelling like shite and tasting worse. Walkers Double Crunch chargrilled knock out salsa and mesquite Kettle Chips and there’s uproar.
Martin: “The Kettles are so good, I can’t believe they’re out.” James: “It’s the luck of the Cup.”
Phones are ringing and the boy Brown lays down the law to a cojudge: “That’s four calls you’ve taken. It’s the Crisp World Cup here. Either be on the panel or fuck off … ”
Walkers Crinkle cheese and chive defeat Golden Wonder cheese and onion and Team Walkers does well again as roast chicken puts one over KP roast beef. As the first of the Kettle Chip team comes through, romping home past a lacklustre cheese and onion Stacker the air’s so filled with tension you can cut it with a Stanley knife.
Tavern beef mustard beats Golden Wonder salt and vinegar but not without controversy. Adam: “Honest, they really make me feel sick.” Martin: “No, they’re all right, they’re not nauseating. They’re like deep fried communion toast.” Adam: “Oi, will you stop eating the whole pack!” James: “It’s like World Cup cocaine abuse.”
Walkers ready salted kicked a stale chicken Golden Wonder off the park and Walkers worcester sauce similarly dispensed with Tavern salt and vinegar. Martin: “Oh, These Tavern snacks are Shit!” Adam: “Definitely the Walkers.”
Blood’s not nice at any clash of the crisps and when the steak went through it was not without a tainted atmosphere coming over the proceedings.
When the editor got out the Apple Chips dissent in the crowd again threatened to turn into full blown crisp abuse. Beaten out of sight by Roysters Pizzarias, Apple Chips made a swift exit.
If you look smart you play smart and in an awesome clash of the strips, Walkers cool chilli Double Crunch in a handsome blue and black number, took on Golden Wonder hot and spicy sporting a lovely orange packet with purple flashes. Walkers narrowly scraped through.
By the second major seeded match the judges camp is already showing sings of disarray and disinterest. Panel members are feeling sick and Filthy’s opening a bottle of white wine with a golf club.
Smiths Salt and Shake take on Pringles ready salted. On first judging the teams remained even with a difference of panel opinion. But whether you side with the panel member who saw the Smiths as a, “throwback to rationing ” or the other who termed it a, “taste of nostalgia ” you couldn’t quibble with the words of adjudicator Tim. “Take these Smiths away, they’re absolute arse.”
The qualifying stage over. And a guest Murray Walker impersonator announces Walkers are ahead in the constructors’ championship. “I feel sick,” says the editor.
The next 1 6 matches are played with typical enthusiasm. “I must say there’s a lot of crisps wasted here.” “Yes, let’s give them to homeless people.” “But Martin’s just spat all over them.” “Got any drugs anyone … ?”
Halfway through and we have the first crisp casualty. Filthy violently throws up after eating jalapeno jack Kettle Chips. “I didn’t even know what a jalapeno was,” he whimpered, green at the gills as we laugh at him like a pack of drunken hyenas.
Gigs are out, beer’s being quaffed at breakneck speed and the gounnet crisp eaters prepare for the Third Round. No one can taste anything by this time anyway so in an effort to aid
the judging process six categories are brought in: Strip Design; Realism of Flavour; Sandwich Compatibility; Crunchability; Dinner Substitute; and Feelgood Factor.
“I can’t believe we’re doing this, can’t we make this up?” “Any other mag would have made this up.”
“That’s why we’re special,” answers the editor and five loaded staff on the verge of puking are silenced into carrying on.
The first ever International Crisp World Cup quarter finalists are: Pringles Light, Walkers cheese and onion, McCoys chilli, Walkers beef and onion, Walkers worcester sauce, Brannigans beef and mustard and Walkers Crinkle cheese and chive. To cries of “Oh fuck … Do we have to eat them all?” the field was whittled down to the last four teams. Walkers cheese and chives against Walkers beef and onion and the wild card Pringle Lights taking on a hotly tipped McCoys chilli. The judging panel is lying on the floor and we’re down to talking gibberish.
Score cards are solemnly handed round listing each of the categories.
“Right, we don’t have to taste them now.” “What?! We’re at the semi finals of the Crisp World Cup and we’re faking it? NO WAY.”
Walkers v Walkers kicks off and passion is running high. After a tense 30 second bout of feverish crisp eating it’s a tie. An outside adjudicator is brought in and, with the words
“Actually, I don’t give a toss,” has no trouble sending our first finalist through – the Walkers Crinkle cheese and chive. Pringles Light and McCoys chilli are next up and in a closely fought game a Top Trumps read off of ingredients is brought in to split the two. It’s too close. We decide to judge it on which company has the best answerphone message at 3am in the morning but this doesn’t work either as KP, makers of McCoys, aren’t answering and Pringles are in Cincinnati, Ohio. We settle on calling cab companies based near the crisp factories.
Call to cab office near Pringles: “Is that Cincinnati? We’re live on air, it’s UK TV. Could you spell Ashby de la Zouch? Could you have a go? Look we’re on Noel’s House Party, it’s a big TV show? You don’t know it? Well all right, how much does it cost to the nearest airport then? $21.0 0. Thanks.” Call to Five Star cabs near KP: “Yeah, listen how much does it cost to get to the nearest airport? £5. Great.”
That’s it then, the McCoys win it and we’re into the final: Walkers cheese and chive v McCoys chilli.
No one can eat another crisp so we line up a panel of external adjudicators: The Vatican, The Whitehouse and Quentin Crisp to decide it. ..
McCoys win it!!!
Loaded’s deputy editor John Earls has covered entertainment and sport across a range of national newspapers, plus several football and music magazines, since 1990. Follow him on Twitter at @EarlsJohn