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 Cheese & Onion Crisps
A Nose Plunge Test revealed a sweet garlicky cheese. The combination of flavours is so familiar that it is sometimes hard to taste through the completely unnatural flavouring to judge it as two separate ingredients that are supposed to combine to make the overall flavour, as it were. There was an unmistakable cheesy taste that had a warm potatoey onion flavouring laced through it. It was very mild and will appeal to most.
Walkers Beef & Onion Crisps
A Nose Plunge Test revealed a pungent beef stock smell. The flavour was also a blast from the past. A traditional British pie flavour that was always captured faithfully by Walkers. It was not a strong taste and it disappointed on strength values, but there was a backdrop of mild onion to the beefy, meaty flavour.
Walkers Max Strong Wasabi Crisps
There was a light green coating to these ridged crisps, which was welcome, if expected. The flavour was unfortunately, similarly light. They definitely tasted of wasabi, but a mouthful of that stuff more than makes your eyes water. It’s an awkward one for manufacturers – Do they create a thoroughly representative crisp or do they want people to buy them?
Walkers Salt & Vinegar Crisps
A Nose Plunge Test revealed a gentle vinegar aroma. The taste relied heavily on potato and malt vinegar. There was no identifiable salt to speak of, and the vinegar was particularly mild. A few munches in and all the flavour quickly disappeared. Given that Walkers Salt & Vinegar is one of the oldest flavoured varieties in the world, I can’t tell you how disappointing I found this. I know the recipe will have changed over the years if based just on oil alterations, but this should be a stand-out world flavour of the ages.
Walkers Roast Chicken Crisps
If, like me, you have grown up with chicken crisps, it is unlikely that you question the flavour. Chicken doesn't have much flavour. This is part of the reason why it is such a versatile meat. In the US, they have a variety called ‘Old Bay’ which is a seasoning that you put on crabs. They do not call the flavour ‘Crab.’ This is where this notion falls apart. I am a huge fan of this variety of crisp, but to suggest it tastes like roast chicken takes a particularly vivid imagination. If there was a legendary chicken seasoning that could be assigned to the flavour name, great, but as it is, I was left to muse over a very nice option that did not taste like roast chicken.
Walkers Worcester Sauce Crisps
There was a vinegar aroma apparent in my Nose Plunge Test. The taste was more intriguing. Lea & Perrin’s famous Worcester Sauce (there are other brands) was replicated as well as you could hope to find on a crisp. It is an individual flavour that can only be described in and unto itself. So, yes, it tasted like Worcester sauce. The only surprise to me is that it is not a more mainstream flavour. A crunched up bag's worth works brilliantly on cheese on toast.
Walkers Smoky Bacon Crisps
If you are familiar with smoky bacon flavoured crisps, you could be forgiven for thinking these smelled exactly as described. However, while there was a sort of smoky aroma, the backdrop was a kind of sweet tomato spice. It says on the bag that it is smoky bacon with pork from Norfolk. The ingredients list concurs - It has Norfolk Dried Pork Shoulder. If that sounds like a James Bond baddie's experiment, what about the taste? It didn't taste much like a smoked bacon sandwich, but there was a meaty and spicy flavour to the smoky backdrop. As far as this variety of flavour goes, it is comparable to all and better than a fair few.
Walkers Marmite Crisps
A Nose Plunge Test revealed a beefy, meaty aroma. The flavour itself is a tie-in with another company, which is often the preserve of more artisan crisps manufacturers. These tasted of beef stock. They could easily have been Oxo or Knorr. They were a better beef stock flavour than Walkers other beef flavours.
Walkers Ready Salted Crisps
A Nose Plunge Test gave nothing away. Hardly surprising really. The taste was a warm fluffy, jacket potato on a cold Autumn evening, with a tiny blob of butter and a sprinkling of salt. The aftertaste was of some sort of oily plasticky foodstuff.
Walkers Prawn Cocktail Crisps
The ingredients list is an interesting one. It features just potatoes and oil, plus prawn cocktail seasoning, which includes: Flavouring, sugar, glucose, salt, citric acid, potassium chloride, dried yeast, dried onion, Vale of Evesham tomato extract, colour, paprika extract, sucralose sweetener. I wouldn't ordinarily include the ingredients list, but that all sounds rather extensive. A witch's concoction of hubble bubble produces something that tastes fishy, does it? A Nose Plunge Test revealed a slightly vinegary tomato aroma. The taste was of sweet tomato mixed in with a sugary seasoning that included a slight spicy extract. It was pleasant but bore absolutely no relationship with prawns, shrimps, cocktails, 1970s menu starters, or anything remotely seafood like.