Tayto Cheese and Onion are as Irish as a tinker with tarmac. They’re known simply as Tayto in many circles and are the undisputed king of crisps in Ireland (no offense King crisps), at least they were until Walkers, now owned by multinational Frito-Lay, entered the market. Often smaller nationwide companies tend to be swept away or at best swallowed up by multinationals like Lays, so how did Tayto stick around and keep their market share? By making damn good crisps capable of rivalling anything on the market for quality and price.
That said, I ‘ve been firmly entrenched in the Walkers camp ever since they sailed across the Irish sea. Initially the blue packet for cheese and onion was confusing as it’s traditionally salt and vinegar, but I was won over on taste and texture. I’ve always found walkers to have a sharper cheese flavour and supremely better crunch to their offerings. Unfortunately, I’ve found myself on the wrong side of every crisp argument to date and feel a little left out in the cold, not to mention rather uncertain as to the merit of my own taste. For years I stood firm until recently when I noticed a change in Walkers and for the worse it must be told. However, they are still good crisps but are they still better than Tayto?
One of the most annoying things in the world is opening a bag of tasteless crisps, you know that rare bag that escaped the factory floor without being seasoned. That said it is imperative that each and every crisp in the bag pack a real flavour punch. Each crisp should be salty with a balanced cheese and onion tanginess, and of course a great crunch.
As you’d expect both brands fared quite well in this category, however, there were some subtle differences. The Tayto is a more solid crisp with an obviously crunchy texture on first bite but as you chew it forms a kind of paste that is quite chewy and starchy. The walkers, while being much lighter, certainly had less of snap but this is compensated by the fact that the crisp is so light as it virtually evaporates from the tongue afer a couple of chews.
Tayto may have invented the cheese and onion flavour but they certainly haven’t perfected it. Straight off the bat you get onion, followed by onion, followed by, you guessed it, more onion. Oh, and some salt. If the cheese is there it is overwhelmingly masked by the onion flavouring, which lingers for quite a while unfortunately . My co-taster, originally a Tayto enthusiast, was very let down by Tayto’s showing on the flavour front remarking they used to be so much better. Used to be doesn’t win any prizes. Walkers had a distinctly cheesy flavour with the onion hanging more in the background. The cheese contributes a sweetness to proceedings providing Walkers with a complex and balanced flavour profile.
Winner: Walkers (overwhelmingly)