Publix Potato Chips Crushed This Famed Brand Name (Hint: Rhymes With Flays)

potato chips
A bag of Cape Cod salt and vinegar chips are poured into a bowl prior to a blind taste test to see if people preferred the name brand chips or the generic brand chips in St. Petersburg, Fla. Tina Russell / The Penny Hoarder

My chip flavor of choice has always been salt and vinegar.

And if you’re a true S&V lover, you know that the more they make your mouth pucker — I’m talking mildly painful “50 Shades of Lay’s”-style — the better they are.

When it comes to brand, I’m not loyal. I’ll pretty much chow down on whatever style of salt and vinegar you throw my way.

Of course, that means this is the perfect opportunity to ditch the name-brand options that I instinctively grab and opt for the unsung hero of store brands that want to join me in the land and salty and vinegary goodness.

We bought two name brands and two store brands, and conducted a blind taste test in the name of science and saving.

Round One: Kettle Chips

As a self-proclaimed chip aficionado, I know I’d be remiss if I didn’t separate kettle-cooked chips from their regular — seriously, what do you call “regular” potato chips? — counterparts.

We went with two varieties: Our name-brand choice was Cape Cod Sea Salt & Vinegar, and our store brand was Target’s Archer Farms Sea Salt & Vinegar.

Here’s how they stacked up.

Cape Cod

These are easy to like if you enjoy crunchy chips: “Really, really, REALLY crunchy,” as my lovely co-worker and taste tester Lisa McGreevy described it.

Look, I’m assuming if you grab a bag of kettle chips, you like a crunch so loud you can barely hear yourself think. These give you that. And as a bonus, these are the only option we tried that didn’t contain any lactose.

(Our vegan photographer appreciated that.)

Although another taste tester, Kelly Anne Smith, called the Cape Cod chips a little “plain,” the consensus was that these were pleasant.

Of course, at $3.29 for a family-size bag, you have to decide if “pleasant” is enough to warrant the price tag.

Despite the cost, in an impromptu staff poll, these chips placed No. 1 among our Penny Hoarding peeps. Apparently, we’ve got expensive taste.

Archer Farms

potato chips
Pareesa Khwaja tries different brands of salt and vinegar chips. Tina Russell / The Penny Hoarder

These are Target’s store brand, and in my humble opinion, Target should be ashamed of itself.

If we’re going to use the word “pleasant” to describe Cape Cod, I’d go with “unpleasant AF” for Archer Farms Sea Salt and Vinegar.

And my fellow taste testers mostly agreed. Social media designer Pareesa Khwaja said it seemed like Target was “trying too hard… but not in a good way.”

These chips were pretty big but less crunchy. As far as the flavor, McGreevy hit the nail on the head: “This tastes like socks.”

Don’t buy these. If you somehow come across a free bag, put them down, and walk away.

The only good thing I have to say about these is that at $2.79, they are less expensive than the Cape Cod chips. But again. It’s better to not serve chips at all than to serve these.

Round Two: Regular Potato Chips

potato chips
Tina Russell / The Penny Hoarder

While kettle-cooked chips have a crunch you can hear for miles, you can eat normal potato chips in near silence. Which means less sharing.

We put Lay’s, a classic, up against Publix brand salt and vinegar to see which was worth sneaking off to eat alone.


Although we didn’t get to see the bags the chips were pulled from, everyone guessed these as soon as they saw them.

While the chips are iconic, they are also uninspiring.

These are the perfect chips for a Friday night of Netflix and chilling (alone).

As you come out of your Netflix daze, you notice your bag of Lay’s is empty, leaving you to wonder where the chips — and the past few hours of your life — went.

Maybe that’s all you expect from your chips. But with these costing the same as the Cape Cod chips, it seems like you can have so much more for your money and your life.

If I had to choose a word to describe Lay’s Salt & Vinegar it would be “meh.”


These. Chips. Changed. My. Life.

It’s possible that there’s more salt and vinegar than actual potato in this chip. (Obviously, I’m exaggerating, but only slightly.)

Unlike the other chips, you can actually see the coating of salt on these. And when you eat them, the general reaction is “Oh My God.”

I can’t overstate how delicious these chips are, but there’s a catch: These are not for at the faint of heart. Unless you really like the kind of S&V chips that are borderline painful to eat, you might not be ready for this bag of goodness.

If you are ready to give them a try, there is some good news: At $2.69, these are the cheapest.

Round Three: The Greatest of All Time

potato chips
Tina Russell / The Penny Hoarder

The chips I recommend to you all depends on the occasion.

If you’re having a party, the Cape Cods are the way to go. They are delicious without being overpowering, and your vegan friends can snack with you.

If you’re alone and appreciate a chip that can knock you in the teeth (because you’re a true S&V lover), go with Publix brand salt and vinegar. Those chips change the game.

Desiree Stennett (@desi_stennett) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.