Pipers, Smiths Crisps, Sunbites, Market Deli, Walkers
Address: Walkers Snack Foods, Freepost LE4 918,
Leicester, LE4 5ZY, United Kingdom
Phone: 0800 274 777
Email: Contact Form
With meat rationing hitting profits, a Leicester based butcher named Henry Walker worked out a plan with his colleague Mr Gerrard to enter the field of Potato Crisps. Walkers Crisps began, and by 1954 the company had advanced sufficiently to introduce the Cheese & Onion Crisp – the UK’s most popular flavour today.
Walkers has approximately half of the UK’s crisp market and makes 10million bags per day. It is also now owned by Pepsico. The largest Potato Chip manufacturer in the World, Lays, is also owned by Pepsico. In the UK alone, the Walkers arm of Pepsico employs over 4,000 people.
Many people wonder what happened to Smiths Crisps, which was a Crisps powerhouse as recently as the 1980s. Major companies with wide ranging branding wasn’t as familiar with the public then as it is now. Nabisco actually owned Walkers, Smiths and Tudor, which was a successful brand in the North of England.
When Pepsico took the company over, they stopped using the Tudor branding and the Crisps under the Smiths branding was reduced substantially, with Walkers taking on the main task of providing the nation with regular Potato Crisps. Currently, the Smiths branding snacks only encompass Chipsticks, Frazzles, Bacon and Scampi Fries, and Cheese Moments.
The biggest change however came in 2006 when the company altered their branding to the Lays model, switched to Sunseed Oil for their cooking and reduced the saturated fat by 70%.
A recent time-line could begin in 1997, when Walkers became the brand name for Quavers and Monster Munch.
Walkers launched Max, as a standalone brand with its own range in 2000.
In 2001 Walkers assumed the branding of the Smiths snack, Squares.
In 2002 Walkers bought Wotsits from Golden Wonder Crisps. They also launched their Sensations range in the same year.
The Smiths brands: Salt & Shake, Scampi Fries and Bacon Fries were re-launched under the Walkers branding in 2003.
To provide a healthier alternative to Crisps during a more conscious age, the wholegrain snack Sunbites was launched in 2007.
The following year, Walkers began inviting the public into the process with their "Do Us A Flavour" campaign. The competition ran for nearly a year and six flavours were introduced, with interactive public participation in voting and the associated publicity getting Walkers brilliant coverage.
In an effort to tackle the premium Hand Cooked Crisps that had become available to the public, Walkers launched their standalone Red Sky branding in 2009.
The earlier success of the ‘Do Us A Flavour’ Campaign prompted a marketing campaign in 2010 called the 'Walkers Flavour Cup' to find the world's favourite flavour. English Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding won. In 2011, Walkers got involved with Comic Relief and used four celebrities to market their Crisps, in the aid of charity.
Walkers rebooted their packaging and branding in 2013.
Walkers Max Strong Chilli & Lime Crisps
Walkers marked these out with just one ‘flame’ in their hotness scale which immediately created a problem. Chilli should never be mild in any crisp variety. There is no need. People know what they are buying, you do not need to worry about their ability to handle hot food. Having said all that there was still a nice balance between the chilli and the lime, which was equally evident. Maybe I am doing the flavour a disservice. Indeed, as the weakest [heat wise] of the Max Strong range, this arguably matches up to Walkers other claim, that they are “Perfect with Beer.” I won’t argue with that here, except to say beer doesn’t need its taste altering with strong flavours.
Walkers Max Strong Hot Chicken Wings
Before I start, I should say Walkers claim on their pack that their Max Strong range is, “Perfect with Beer.” It’s a good marketing approach, but it doesn’t work. The flavours are strong and invariably good, but the best crisps with beer are heavily salty plain crisps. You should never overwhelm the flavour of beer. Hot chicken wings is a little vague because the chicken flavour should be overtaken by the joys of the myriad of sauce, rub or marinade options available. This is very much why chicken is used. However, there was a certain chicken flavour present, mixed in with a reasonably nice and inoffensive sauce.
Walkers Max Strong Jalapeno & Cheese
A Nose Plunge Test immediately promoted a mild and welcoming cheese variety. That was also the case with the Taste Test. The jalapeno promised on the bag immediately slapped the back of my throat, and then as the flavour dispersed its magic there was a mild and fruity cheese mixed up with the heat.
Walkers Max Paprika Crisps
Paprika is a very popular European flavour, and as Frito-Lay are so dominant in worldwide markets, it is not a flavour they can afford to get wrong. A mass-production company rarely makes a crisp worthy of the competition, but this was very much the case here. The thickness of the potato slices aided by a heavy coat of seasoning provided a perfectly balanced crisp. More than one at a time and the flavour was rich, sweet, and rewarding.
Walkers Max Flame Grilled Steak Crisps
The first thing I should mention is that unlike many Walkers flavours, these were a little heavy on negative nutrition values, including virtually a quarter of the recommended daily fat guide. The bag presented a masculine approach, but the crisps were simply mild beef tasting.
Walkers Max Double Crunch Loaded
Cheddar & Onion Crisps
The massive ridges harboured a healthy amount of seasoning, but it was hard to identify. There was very little onion and a mild to medium strength cheese. They were far from loaded.
Walkers Max Double Crunch Chicken & Chorizo Potato Crisps
Sarcasm admittedly, but I couldn't help but wonder if double crunch meant there would be two crunches as opposed to Walkers regular crisps which often need one firm munch to turn them to mush. I couldn't find the chicken, but I could find the chorizo. It was mild and had a creamy potato backdrop with very little meaty pepper.
Walkers Max Double Crunch Bold BBQ Ribs
There was a solid meaty flavouring to the barbecue taste. There was nothing sweet and sticky, the aftertaste was a bit wooden, there was no identifiable pork (which should have been the ribs aspect), and although pleasant enough, this would probably relate more to the thick potato than a sauce that you might buy separately to pour on your ribs.
Walkers Crinkles Cheddar & Onion Crisps
Everything seemed a bit on the light side with these crisps. When the bag was opened there was a sort of cheese smell, but only in a crisps sense. I went to the fridge to smell some Cheddar cheese straight after and it was nothing like this. The taste was also of very mild cheese, and it was also a rather generic cheese, nothing mature Cheddar about it. The onion must have escaped the bag when it was opened because I looked around but couldn't find it anywhere. As a mass-market crisp company, Walkers will not take risks or create unnecessary controversy with a flavour, so on the whole, these were enjoyable but bland.
Walkers Crinkles Simply Sea Salted Crisps
A Nose Plunge Test revealed a slightly salty potato aroma, which is rare for plain crisps - They usually don't smell of anything. The taste was of a warm fluffy potato on a cold winter's evening, mixed up with a sprinkling of salt and a dash of butter. Or, something like that. They certainly did what they claimed on the packet.