There are two types of Canadians: those who “get” Swiss Chalet, and those who are deeply, incredibly wrong.
Gather a group of your friends, colleagues, countrymen, and ask them what they think of the chicken dinner chain. Some will have fond memories, having grown up dunking quarter birds in that iconic sauce, getting lost in its rich texture and crowding every possible side in the cup to create a godless savoury parfait. The other camp will shake their heads and swear allegiance to supposedly classier family restaurant experiences. Don’t listen to them. You know your history and your tastes, and that should be enough.
Mysteriously enough, finding a history of the chain is difficult. Search engine queries only recall a barren Wikipedia entry and the chain’s own communications materials. Someone should get an academic grant to study the spread of the brand interwoven with Canadian social and geographical history (just one woman’s opinion).
A quick rundown: the first Swiss Chalet opened its doors in Toronto in 1954. There isn’t even a historical plaque to commemorate the immeasurable impact that stemmed from the inaugural kitchen because the store was demolished in 2006 to make room for a condominium. But that’s all gravy under the bridge, and you’re reading this for one reason and one reason only: To find out about those chips.
Lay’s announced their newest potato chip flavour with the same type of reverence reserved for new tech launches. Millions of Canadians asked: “What took so long?” Think about the plain and humble potato chip. Sliced from a hefty root, dunked in a fryer, salted, packaged, and transported all the way to flavour town in the back of your mouth. It’s really the perfect vehicle for a flavour that’s been driving people wild for decades. (Rumour has it that a mid-level executive in Swiss Chalet’s parent company Cara Operations used to request huge vats of the stuff to fill his swimming pool.)
Two family-sized bags of the chips arrived on my porch earlier this week, and I had to pause and calm myself before the urge to rip them clean down the middle took over. I saved one bag for my book club, and broke the fast with the other because there’s nothing like abandoning basic nutrition for the sake of content.
And? They’re like if All Dressed chips went to Europe for a semester and started every story upon coming back home with “When I lived in Europe…” They’re the definition of zesty. They will cut your mouth up if you eat half a family-sized bag trying to determine what they taste like exactly – not that that’s been tried by anyone in the name of research, just a hypothetical, ya know?
Verdict: If you like the sauce, you’ll probably like these too.