Screengrab courtesy the author. Collage by Jack Cummings.
I love crisps. Scratch that. I’m obsessed with crisps. So much so, that whenever I arrive in a new country, I go straight to the nearest supermarket and scope out their crisp selection, stuffing my suitcase with bags of perfectly salted Italian patatine or bright yellow Fonzies. I write joke (they’re not a joke, I take them very seriously) crisp reviews on Instagram Stories and for some reason, my followers seem to like them, so I’ll keep doing them until my arteries clog up or I’m simply bored of crisps (never). Basically, what I’m saying is, think of me as the Jay Rayner of the crisp world.
Welcome to 'The DM That Changed My Life', a column where we reflect on the WhatsApps, Insta DMs, work emails and Facebook messages that shook us to our core.
My love for the crunchy potato snack stems from not being allowed to have them in my childhood. Crisps were banned in my household and generally, all fried foods were deemed 'yeet hay', a Cantonese phrase that means ‘unhealthy’ and literally translates as ‘hot air.’ In Chinese culture, certain foods are believed to cause an imbalance in the body’s energy levels and too much hot stuff – crisps included – results in breakouts, sore throats and lethargy. Of course, none of that meant anything to me when I was a kid and if someone tells you not to have something, you automatically want it even more. Now that I’m an adult, I make up for those lost years by eating every type of crisp out there.When I was 18, I tried cracked black pepper Kettle Chips for the very first time and thought, Where have you been all my life? The potato was thicker and saltier than the measly, wafer-thin Walkers I’d snagged at friends’ houses, and the flavour. Oh, the depth! of! flavour! Let me tell you, it was like fresh peppercorns had been cracked straight over my tongue. Divine! As I got older, I realised that eating Kettle Chips also makes you feel posh – like you’re better than everyone else. In other words, they are 100-percent a Tory crisp, and an extremely tasty one at that.Fast forward to ten years and I’m still very much in love with Kettle Chips. And here begins my tangled tale of romance, betrayal and salted snacks – played out via Instagram DM. In June, a friend posted an Instagram Story wishing me a happy birthday. It featured a photo of us together at a house party with me holding (what else?) a large bag of Kettle Chips.
Like the beginning of any relationship, things started out sweet. The Kettle Chips Instagram account slid into my DMs with a simple heart emoji – that classic symbol of affection and recognition of a budding romance. Normally, when the social media managers behind big food brands try to act ‘cool’ and ‘human’, it comes across as incredibly try-hard. But with Kettle Chips, something about the message felt different. And seeing as birthdays are the one day of the year when you get a free pass, I thought I’d try my luck. I typed back: “Please send me nice birthday things!!! [four heart eye emojis]”To which Kettle Chips responded: “[crying laughing smiley face] Unfortunately not but we hope you have the best day! – Tory.”Tory! A Tory crisp that hired an actual man or woman named Tory. You couldn’t make it up. I decided I was willing to overlook our political and class differences. Why? Because you do crazy things in the name of love. “I’m heartbroken! [crying emoji] you’ve ruined my birthday,” I wrote back.“Don’t say that – it was such a beautiful relationship! – Tory”“This relationship is over x.”“Don’t do this to us! – Ellie.”Tory didn’t even have the decency to talk to me one-on-one and fight for what we had. Instead, he or she sent in this Ellie to pick up the remains. The hurt was so deep that I deleted the chat and Kettle Chips and I didn’t speak for weeks.Of course, it was me who came crawling back. It was a sunny Bank Holiday weekend and my friends and I were sharing tinnies in the park, along with the obligatory Kettle Chips and a pot of hummus. Tipsy and carefree, I decided to share a Story and tag Kettle Chips.
“Travelling in style! – Jim.”I’d never dealt with this Jim character before. For a moment, I wondered if he might be different and not like the others. I drunkenly tried my luck again, “Please send me more crisps to keep me going this bank holiday weekend.”“Unfortunately, we’re not able to sort that out for you but we hope you manage to get through the Bank Holiday regardless! – Jim.”Men, they’re all the fucking same.“Why not? :(" I pleaded for Jim to look deep down, to have a bit of compassion and see things from my side.“We can’t just give away our chips for free otherwise we think we would run out pretty quickly. – Tory.” Out of the blue, Tory swept back into the conversation, like a virtual slap across the face.“Can’t you make an exception for me your biggest fan???” Desperate and emotional, I began to beg.“Unfortunately not, sorry Angela. – Tory.”Fucking hell, Tory. Don’t mince your words, mate. Kick me while I’m down, why don’t you? I was fuming. Absolutely raging, I came up with the nastiest thing that I could think of in my inebriated state. “I always preferred Tyrell’s anyways x.”As soon as I’d typed the words, I regretted them.It took two whole days for Kettle Chips to reply. Finally, Jim stepped in, but he was so shocked at the low blow I’d delivered that even he was lost for words. “Oh. Wow. – Jim.”It’s been just over a month since my last correspondence with Kettle Chips. I’m not sure if we’ll ever get back together. It still hurts like hell but that doesn’t mean I don’t think about Kettle Chips every day. Things got heated pretty quickly, and I said some things that I didn’t mean. After all we’ve been through Kettle Chips, I still love you. Will you take me back?@Angela_Hui