Far be it for me to be capricious in my choice of Pickled Onion snacks but there has been a long and chequered history therein. I’m 49 now and figured it was time to settle my scores and come clean, a kind of a confession if you like. I’ll start it here with the following.
I like the Flaming Hot Monster Munch
A long time ago when I was very very young I remember, I think, having a packet of space raiders; pickled onion flavour, and being blown away, having previously only eaten walkers; cheese and onion, smokey bacon, salt and vinegar and red with the occasional chicken flavour (always disappointing). The pickled onion was not just an orgasm on my tongue before I knew what one was (feel rather than taste if i’m honest) but it also opened my mind to corn based snacks rather than traditional crisps, it was like the introduction of channel 4 when previously we had just BBC1 and 2 and ITV. My horizons widened, it was like screens protecting me from tastes had collapsed, i’d glimpsed a chink of the alternative with the advent of Vesta Curry and Rice, minus the raisins but Mum bought that, the crisps were something altogether different, something I could take control of, and it started with that one taste of a space raider from Stoneygate shop and continued in Foxton village shop with snaps (6p). But no space raiders, I had to wait until the trip to Nanna’s house before I could taste the blessed flesh again.
Forward a few years, and I think I was probably in primary school still so the chronology could be all to cock, but I remember monster Munch coming out, beef (which didn’t taste like beef) flavour, which were soft, got stuck in my teeth and so were the enemy of dentists Mr Smith, whio once had to inject me in the mouth 3 times because he kept missing, or some bullshit, bloody hurt, with his fuzzy top of ginger hair and heavy nose breathing, I would have hated it were it not for the pink water, but then the changed that too and I quit the dentist for about 15 years and let the amphetamines do their damage. It was before they did that, that I discovered Pickled onion Monster Munch, (POMMs) and for many happy years I rejoiced in the smooth coating of corn filling in my failing teeth, protecting my cheeks and tongue from the sharpness of my rear molars, eaten from the inside, black and forboding. It was at this time that I had no girlfriend and finally because of a terrific tooth ache I went to the dentist at the end of our road, Victoria Avenue, in Salford that I had to get a big fuck off filling, from a grey skinned pointed headed dentist in a gloomy soulless dental surgery, golden and smooth dispelling the need for breakfast POMMs to coat my teeth for the days festivities. It was at this point, around about 1994 that the recipe for POMMs changed and after 1 bag switched back to pickled onion space raiders, washed down with a cheap bottle of white lightening or white shark, I was a real catch in those days I can tell you. Space raiders seemed to take me back to the good old days of corn based snacks, slightly stale, soft and almost cold to the touch, giving the impression of being damp, so before opening the packet you an scrunch the bag and you’ll know they’ve got tons of the flavour dust but the dust that sticks together, yum.
Children arrived and soon Monster munch multi packs were back on the menu, with supermarkets making a big deal over them, the holy trinity of beef, POMMs and the relatively recent Flamin’ Hot, always covered in flavour dust (wet kind) and therefore the best for an incorrigible ex-smoker like myself; taste buds shot to pieces, mind often in bits. The Pickled Onion no longer does it for me; Monster Munch changed back the flavour years ago, but they’d lost me to Space Raiders, a far superior and flavoursome corn based snack, for the more mature palette. POMMs still are taken in my house by my wife and the kids but the fact that I will eat Flamin’ Hot and no one else will leaves all the over flavoured stuff to me, which now includes Tangy Toms and Pickled Onion Space Raiders when they have them in the central aisle at Aldi, which also have salt and vinegar ringos now too for all you retro crisp munchers.
Monster Munch made the mistake of changing the recipe way back to make the snacks more popular and all they ended up doing was alienating the connoisseur and letting in the bland crisp eater, the person for who crisps are just something to fill that mid afternoon hunger pang. They sold out, like Coldplay, whereas POSRs stayed true to their art, like Talk Talk, purists.
I’m trying to encourage my son to try other things, some of the old crisps and on the odd occasion new crisps which unfortunately and regretably are pretty piss poor, they big snack companies are putting profit before taste it seems, but theres still some out there and so it will be up to my youngest, when I can’t get to the shops, to delegate what he’ll be bringing back for his Dad to wash down with a straw and shape off the inside nooks of his teeth when I’m old and infirm.