During Melbourne’s lockdown, some people baked sourdough, and others burnt their retinas to a crisp playing video games for six months straight. A select few, however, committed to a cause—a cause that mattered—and a cause that would benefit the greater good of the country. One of these people is known only by her Instagram moniker, Mip’s Chips; she’s the one-woman show who spent almost the entirety of 2020 reviewing each and every frozen chip available in Australia.
We spoke with the fry connoisseur midway through her quest, and now, a year later, she’s ready to share the results so that you know what to look out for, and what to avoid, when hurdling down the freezer aisle.
So, first thing’s first, you’ve tried all 63 frozen chips available in Australia. Which chip took out number one spot?
It would have to be the Birds Eye Deli Golden Ale Beer Batter. It was one of the two winners but I think it was a more versatile chip in the end. You can put loaded toppings on it and it works a bit better than their Rosemary and Seasalt.
And at what point in your journey did you discover the Golden Ale Beer Batter?
Probably at the start, actually, because at the beginning I was grabbing all the chips that looked the goods and then I ended up working through the dregs of the freezer—there were definitely a few rogue packets towards the end.
So you must have came across some shockers during your time?
I had some absolute stinkers. There were two that really stand out. Absolutely crap. One of them was a microwave chip. I actually tried two microwave chips—one of them was actually crunchy which was surprising but the other one was just completely rubbish. Tasted like it'd been sitting in a bain-marie for three years. So that was one of them, and the other was branded as a healthy chip, so that was kind of alarm bells when I saw that. Even after cooking it in the deep fryer for longer than I should have, it was still just super soggy and a really bad texture.
Were you surprised by some of your findings?
You'd be surprised but there actually aren't that many chip brands. They all just have so many different products but they really vary from the outstanding to shit. The brand that took top spot basically had the best and the worst chip.
Is there any chance you missed any?
No chance I missed any. This went on for 9 months during lockdown and I was so adamant to get to them all. I went to multiple Woolworths, Aldis, and Coles to find everything available. So unless there have been new chips released since then—which there could be—but I haven't checked because I'm steering clear of frozen chips nowadays.
So life after frozen chips, does it feel empty now that you’ve reviewed them all?
Oh my god, no, because now I can eat other people's chips. I don't have to cook, clean up or worry about changing the oil or anything. I mean, it was a really fun project and it gave me a reason to get out of bed during lockdown but I'm so happy to be eating restaurant chips again.
After trying literally every chip available on the market, did you spot any gaps in the frozen chip scene?
The one thing that comes to mind is that all of the waffle fries and curly fries—which there aren't many—are all manufactured overseas, so by the time they get to Australia you can imagine they're not as fresh and they just break apart. Lots of crumbly bits. That would be the main one that comes to mind. Waffle chips produced locally so they're fresh and not falling to piece.
And there was also a few wildcard entries for the more obscure chips out there. Can you tell us more about those?
So there was the Crosstrax, which is the McCain way to say waffle fries. I don't know why, at the beginning, I thought maybe waffle fries belonged to a particular brand but I've seen it on other packaging. So I think McCain was just trying to claim the name Crosstrax. All the chips I put in the wildcard results were ones that I would buy again and deserved a mention, but they just didn't fit into any categories.
And the Veggie Chips got a mention, too?
Yeah, they're beetroot, carrot and sweet potato, but they were just super fresh. All Birds Eye chips were really fresh; I used to deep fry so you might have different results in the oven but they were just really fresh, great-tasting veggies that had great texture, crunch, and the right amount of seasoning.
And from a frozen chip connoisseur's point of view, is it important to deep fry over oven cooking if you've got the kitchen to do so?
If you have the option, always deep fry. I've had a few air fryer chips and they're good but they're just not as good as you'd get from a deep fryer.
What’s next for Mips Chips? Are you planning to be an advocate for the frozen chip moving forward or are you looking into a new cuisine?
Chips are my thing. I'm not going to change to another type of food; people have messaged and asked me to review chicken nuggets or potato gems. It's all very time-consuming. I'm just happy to be back reviewing restaurant chips—that's how I started after all.
And finally, what's been your favourite restaurant chip?
At the moment, my favourite is probably from a fried chicken shop called Big Mama's Fried Chicken and they've got really, really good chips. And then there's Green Burger in Collingwood who have these awesome crinkle cuts. I feel like since I've gone back to reviewing restaurant chips they just taste so much better than they did before. I've spent a whole year cooking my own and eating freezer chips so I feel like I'm just dishing out 8 out of 10 and above on every review—I need some average chips in front of me so I can recalibrate.
For the full results, head on over to Mip’s Chips Instagram.
Be your own hero in the kitchen and scope out the recipe for a very boozy vodka pasta here.
Image credit: Good Eats YQR | Unsplash