A popular guilty pleasure in the UK and Ireland, the crisp sandwich is uncompromising and simple, consisting of a sandwich that includes crisps (or potato chips) as the filling.
To celebrate its partnership with crisp maker Walkers, sandwich chain Subway asked a leading food scientist to reveal the tastiest crisp sandwich combinations - based on their flavour, aroma and texture.
The study, led by Dr Stuart Farrimond at the University of Chester, used flavour science and consumer testing by the British public to declare chicken tikka and ready salted crisps the tastiest crisp sandwich pairing. The research included a review of the scientific tasting notes for each combination, for crisp sandwich connoisseurs to use to enhance their overall eating experience.
The top 10 tastiest crisp sandwich pairings:
Chicken Tikka and Ready Salted Crisps
Tasting notes: Chicken tikka has a wide range of flavours that stimulate sweet, sour and umami tastes (a ‘savoury’ flavour sensation that also gives foods a more-ish quality) as well as spicy heat. The salty seasoning in the crisps enhances an already diverse bouquet of flavours in the chicken.
Tuna Mayonnaise and Prawn Cocktail Crisps
Tasting notes: The prawn cocktail flavoured crisps carry the piquant taste of Marie Rose sauce, which complements and accentuates the fish flavours of the tuna mayo.
Meatball and Ready Salted Crisps
Tasting notes: Both the meatballs and crisps are highly flavoured, with the crisps also elevating each bite by offering a textural contrast through additional ‘crunch’.
Chicken Salad and Cheese & Onion Crisps
Tasting notes: Chicken, cheese and onion are a strong three-way pairing thanks to a plethora of shared flavour compounds. They taste very different, but because they share some flavour compounds, they harmonise well together and also stimulate umami taste receptors.
Cheese and Salt & Vinegar Crisps
Tasting notes: Cheese is one of the most popular sandwich fillings for its unparalleled diversity of flavours. The vinegar brings added acidity, accentuating the subtle sourness of cheese and many of the ‘tangy’ tasting notes.
Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato and Salt & Vinegar Crisps
Tasting notes: The acidity of the vinegar in the crisps brings an additional sour dimension to a flavourful and texturally varied sandwich.
Ham and Cheese & Onion Crisps
Tasting notes: The flavours of the cheese and onion crisps and the ham both stimulate umami taste receptors, complementing each other perfectly on the savoury side of the palate.
Turkey and Cheese & Onion Crisps
Tasting notes: As a low-fat meat, turkey works well when paired with stronger flavours, so the intensity of the cheese and onion crisps brings a more complex flavour sensation to the sandwich.
Salami and Ready Salted Crisps
Tasting notes: The crisps add an additional crunch to what is a softer textured sandwich, with the simple, salted flavour of the crisps perfectly complementing the complex flavours of the salami.
Steak and Prawn Cocktail Crisps
Tasting notes: The flavours in this pairing are the same as the classic ‘surf n’ turf’, with the prawn cocktail flavours bringing even more depth to the rich notes of the steak.
‘Crisps add really great texture’
The study included a review of the scientific tasting notes for each combination, for crisp sandwich connoisseurs to use to enhance their overall eating experience.
When analysing the results of the study, Dr Farrimond concluded that most sandwich fillings can be improved with crisps. Comments from testers in the study included “The crisps added depth to the flavour” and “The crisps add really great texture”.
“Sandwiches are a much-loved lunchtime staple, but flavour-pairing theory and consumer testing has allowed us to explore news ways that we can elevate this familiar meal and boost both texture and flavour,” added Farrimond. “Subway and Walkers briefed me to analyse the flavour compounds in iconic sandwiches and crisp flavours in this study, allowing us to reveal the definitive list of the tastiest crisp sandwich flavour pairings and hopefully give Brits some more lunchtime inspiration.”
Calling all crisp sandwich sommeliers
Subway has also appointed a Crisp Sandwich Sommelier to its ranks. Poppy O’Toole, a Michelin-trained chef and the ‘Potato Queen’ of TikTok, landed the top role as a result of her deep love of crisp sandwiches, her passion for finding the perfect flavour pairings and knowledge of techniques to achieve the most pleasing texture combinations.
She will now advise the British public on how to get their sandwich and crisp pairings just right.
“I grew up eating crisp sandwiches and, back in the day, these consisted of crisps pressed between two boring pieces of white bread,” she said. “But the crisp sandwich has evolved and is now a delicacy in its own right, so I’m both honoured and excited to be accepting the job of Subway’s first Crisp Sandwich Sommelier in partnership with Walkers - imparting some of the flavour expertise and techniques from my Michelin training to elevate this humble dish and take it to a new level.”
Crisp sandwich NPD
UK grocer Asda introduced a limited-edition crisp sandwich into stores back in 2010. Called the Crispwich, the bread and crisps came separately for self-assembly. The supermarket refused to tell FoodNavigator whether it had plans to re-introduce the SKU. Irish airline Aer Lingus also launched a make your-own crisp sandwich on its in-flight menu, which was discontinued after six months.
Angie Gosal, Senior Marketing Director UK&I at Subway, said: “At Subway, we are serious about crisp sandwiches - and to bring this delicacy to a wider audience, we have appointed the world’s first Crisp Sandwich Sommelier in partnership with Walkers. Poppy O’Toole is the first person appointed to this new role and the goal is for her to share her knowledge for making perfect crisp sandwiches, so our guests can experience the joy of adding more crunch to their lunch.”