Starch Madness: First Blood (Analysis of the First Half of the Opening Round)

What a strong start to our tournament. The favorites came out chips ablazin’, and two eleven seeds pulled off solid upsets. The Kettle Conference lost two of its contenders, as did the controversial Bugles. As Fritos Original celebrates its close win over a Kettle and Pringles Cheddar rightfully packs its bags, let’s take a look back at the week that was:

1) Cool Ranch Doritos vs. 16) Terra Blues

Cool Ranch Doritos wins 28-5

This was a match-up of colors: the blue bag of Cool Ranch Doritos versus actual blue chips.  While no one is going to accidentally confuse a piece of colored aluminum with a real chip, if anyone did they probably wouldn’t notice the difference.  “Terra Blues” shares a lot with “Terra Nova”: no one really likes it and if you do, no one wants to hear you talk about it.  Also, Cool Ranch Doritos is a mainstay and will be sticking around.  Just like wet Doritos on a wall. – SK

8. Fritos Original vs. 9) Kettle Sour Cream & Onion

Fritos Original wins 20-18

An important aspect of snack food is versatility. Fritos are fantastic by themselves, but they are also great with M&Ms as a sweet and salty combination. Sour Cream and Onion chips are not versatile, and their flavor is too strong. I am not a fan of the sour cream and onion combination, and neither is anyone near you. – KS

5) Cape Cod Salt & Vinegar vs. 12) Stacy’s Toasted Garlic Bagel Chips

Cape Cod Salt & Vinegar wins 22-17

Anything from Massachusetts in inherently better than anything from another state, so the obvious choice is Cape Cod Salt and Vinegar. These chips are strong, but not too strong to make your lips tingle from the flavor. Cape Cod potatoe chips are also amazingly crunchy. Stacy’s Garlic are good, especially with hummus, but I just don’t feel as satisfied when I finish a bag of Garlic Chips. – KS

4) Baked Ruffles Cheddar & Sour Cream vs. 13) Kettle Jalapeno

Baked Ruffles Cheddar & Sour Cream wins 20-13

While Baked Lays Cheddar & Sour Cream couldn’t put all of their elements together, their Ruffles counterpart certainly did, easily dispatching spicy upstart Kettle Jalapeno. – SP

6) Lays Cheddar & Sour Cream vs. 11) Stacy’s Naked Bagel Chips

Stacy’s Naked Bagel Chips wins 20-17

This matchup was one of the best and most fulfilling upsets of the first round! Don’t let the rankings fool you – Stacy’s Naked Bagel Chips, an 11 seed, were clearly the superior team, bringing an unmatchable crunch to the competition and winning 7-4 against the 6 seed Lays Cheddar and Sour Cream. Lays Cheddar and Sour Cream just have a weird combination of flavors. Who eats cheddar cheese with sour cream other than on a taco? Lets be honest, when it comes to chips, sour cream should only be paired with onion, and fake cheddar cheese is best on Cheetos. – JS

3) Cape Cod Original vs. 14) Utz BBQ

Cape Cod Original wins 27-8

Cape Cod Original pairs fabulously with a diet Coke, sunny day, and the salty ocean wind my private yacht makes as Daddy sails it to Martha’s Vineyard. Utz BBQ pairs with a Natty light, flannel, and the exhaust fumes from a white trash RV. Diamonds and graphite are both made of carbon, but I bet we all can guess which I got 5 carats of for my Bat Mitzvah. Cape Cod Originals are the diamonds of potato chips. Besides, the Utz BBQ orange and yellow bag doesn’t match my Manolo Blahniks. How is this a competition? Wait, Cape Cods are up against Stacy’s Naked Bagel Chips next round? Which has less calories again? – MS

7) Bugles Original vs. 10) Herr’s Original

Herr’s Original wins 20-16

Thank God. The only thing worse than having an ill-tasting pseudo-chip in the Starch Madness ChampionChips is having it advance into the next round. Having Bugles in this tournament is like having a synchronized swimming team enter the NCAA men’s basketball tournament: they barely stand a chance against six huge black dudes who can dunk from the free throw line. While this inclusion was an utter disgrace to the chip world, and an insult to good, hardworking chips everywhere, the result was the correct one. Bugles, stay the fuck out of my chips. – NM

As a fan of Bugles, I have a few questions.  1) Who could objectively enjoy Herrs Original (the most boring chip in the bracket besides Utz) more than the novelty and flavor of Bugles?  2) How could Fritos, a shittier version of Bugles, beat a good chip in Kettle Sour Cream and Onion?  The answer:  Hatahs runnin’ wild.  There was a strong Bugles backlash given the questions about its chiphood and alleged use of steroids, and the hatahs won this battle.  But for all of the Bugles lovers, just remember:  Hatahs gon hate.  Because wherever you need a cone-shaped snack, Bugles will be there.  Wherever you need something to eat but you’re not that hungry ‘cause you just had lunch like an hour ago, Bugles will be there.  And when the odds are stacked against you, and the breaks are beating the boys, and you feel that all hope is lost—well, Bugles will be there, too. – RG

2) Baked Lays BBQ vs. 15) Bugles Smokin’ BBQ

Baked Lays BBQ wins 34-4

“The Great Bugles Debate” still rages, and it’s hard to not try and analyze this lopsided victory as hate-voting in Lays’ favor.  However, regardless of your Bugles preference, the BBQ Conference is a bloodbath, and a chip that can also be flavored caramel is going to be slain.  There’s not much else to say here. – SK

1) Tostitos Original vs. 16) Herr’s Kansas City Prime

Tostitos Original wins 33-5

One word: nachos. Tostitos are perfect for nachos, and for that, I love them. Delicious on their, with salsa, guac, or cheese, Tostitos always hit the spot. Kettle cooked potatoe chips are a bit too sweet, but they have a decent crunchiness. In a fight of corn-based delectability and potatoe sweetness, Tostitos is the clear winner. – KS

8. Lays Kettle Cooked Mesquite BBQ vs.9) Stacy’s Naked Pita Chips

Lays Kettle Cooked Mesquite BBQ wins 19-15

This was a close match-up with the wrong result. It seems as though voters have never seen Stacy’s Naked Pita Chips before.  Stacy’s Chips are nice, man. I’m telling you, her Pita Chips are perky, firm and fit in your mouth real well.  Put a little cheese on there, some salsa, maybe some chocolate sauce or whipped cream if you’re in the mood. Stacy’s Naked Pita Chips sure beat the taste, texture and overall satisfaction of anything Mesquite. I don’t know whether the voters had seen Pita Chips like these, or even Naked Pita Chips in their lives before, but Stacy let me see hers Naked and they’re the best, hands down.  What a disappointment. – NM

5) Wise Honey BBQ vs. 12) Pringles Cheddar

Wise Honey BBQ wins 24-11

An easy win for Wise Honey BBQ because, really, Pringles have no business messing with cheddar.  Stay in your lane, Pringles. – RG

4) Lays Sour Cream & Onion vs. 13) Tostitos Hint of Lime

Lays Sour Cream & Onion wins 20-15

Another abomination, in my completely objective, non-biased, factual, empirically-based opinion. What’s the best thing about the losing team? I’ll give you a hint: the lime. Tostito’s Hint of Lime chips are the best thing to happen to humanity since electric toothbrushes.  I can see how Lays SC&O won, being the higher seed and having home-bag advantage, but give Hint of Lime credit for hanging in there and making it close. I project Lays SC&O to make it to the Salty Sixteen, or even further. – NM

6) Baked Lays Cheddar & Sour Cream vs. 11) Kettle Sea Salt & Vinegar

Kettle Sea Salt & Vinegar wins 25-14

This matchup shows the power of sticking to one thing and doing it well.  Baked Lays Cheddar and Sour Cream tried to do three things at once and paid the price for losing focus. – RG

3) Kettle BBQ vs. 14) Stacy’s Parmesan & Herb Pita Chips

Kettle BBQ wins 28-10

Kettle has one of the strongest and most reliable pedigrees of all the brands in this competition, and BBQ is a game-tested flavor. Kettle BBQ put together a convincing win over an admirable contender in Stacy’s Parmesan & Herb Pita Chips, setting up for an intriguing match-up with another Kettle Conference competitor, upstart Kettle Sea Salt & Vinegar. – SP

7) Herr’s Ketchup vs. 10) Bugles Caramel

Bugles Caramel wins 15-13

In the lowest scoring match-up thus far, Bugles Caramel destroyed the resolve of thousands of ketchup chip enthusiasts, including myself. Why would Herr’s Original, a chip with the flavor and excitement of C-SPAN 2, defeat its Bugles Original counterpart, when its ketchup variant cannot take down a “caramel” chip? Voters, you have crushed the hopes of these fine, hard-working ketchup chips, for naught but a caramel Bugle. A travesty. – SP

2) Baked Lays Original vs. 15) Doritos Late Night Snack

Baked Lays Original wins 36-5

After coming out cold and finding themselves in a 4-1 hole, Baked Lays Original hit their stride and never looked back. In the last 32 minutes of regulation, they outscored Dorito’s Late Night Snack 35-1, dismantling a heavily senior squad. Baked Lays Original is looking ahead to the narrow upset Caramel Bugles in the second round. – AP

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