Tag Archives: South Dakota

Roadside: BBQ Chip Road Trip

Michigan has game when it comes to 20th century snack foods.

Michigan has game when it comes to 20th century snack foods aka the beginnings of helping Americans make themselves fat.

In 2013 I went on a road trip through 11 states in 8 days. Along the road there were plenty of stops at gas stations, and at each one I tried to find something different that I hadn’t seen before. A couple states in I started to realize that there was something regional in the potato chip aisle. Though now-national brands like Lays are well represented across the U.S., little odd ball and generic-y brands would pop up. I decided to make it my road trip quest to find the best of the BBQ chips.

I don’t eat a lot of chips these days, but as a kid BBQ Ruffles were one of my favorites. As an adult I’m a big fan of the spicy heat of Grippo’s BBQ chips, my Dad’s hometown crispy potato. During the road trip from Colorado to Ohio, and then up through Michigan to Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wyoming, a few chips came close along the way, but I still didn’t find a chip to surpass the Grippo’s spice.

I resurrected the BBQ chip hunt on my latest road trip jaunt through Arkansas and East Texas and figure it’s time to start recording all those BBQ feelings before I complete forget. Still no new champions, but the quest continues. The contenders so far, along with my completely subjective and non-scientific opinions:

Regional BBQ Chip Rankings as of 2015 June:

  1. Grippo’s Bar-B-Q
  2. Better Made Special Barbecue
  3. Golden Flake Sweet Heat Barbecue
  4. Old Dutch Bar-B-Q
  5. Urge Barbeque
  6. Guy’s Barbeque

The Rust Belt region understands the fine art of properly spiced BBQ chips. This is only a scratch on the BBQ dust coated surface, so the rankings will grow as I get the chance to snack in new places. BBQ chip recommendations welcome.

Roadside: Wall Drug, Wall, South Dakota

High kitsch. There is something about a tacky roadside attraction in the middle of nowhere that is part of what makes America great. You drive out on a road trip to see what beautiful natural formations Earth cooked up and then you take in the constructed dives and palaces of humanity.

I enjoy visiting iconic locations like Mount Rushmore or the Eiffel Tower, but there is nothing quite like a dusty or colorfully gaudy roadside attraction held together by remanents of memory and local gumption.

I’m gonna do a week of roadside attractions and history exploitation, starting with:

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Wall Drug is probably the king of campy tacky tourist delights. Not my favorite, but fun to visit for a “ride” on a jackalope. When you drive west through South Dakota on I-90 you can’t miss the dozens and dozens of billboards that count down your arrival to this giant strip of tourist-oriented stores. I think the exciting anticipation the billboards ramp up is more exciting than the place itself, which is a statement that can probably be applied to most general things in life.

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