Several weeks ago, we tackled the topic of nu-wave beer bites head-on, asking the utterly vital question, Wanky Bar Snacks – Delicious or Deplorable?
For clarification, we were talking the omnipresent trend of overpriced starters and fad food – scotch eggs, cheese twists, vegetable crisps etc. – nudging your timeless classics – pork scratchings, normal crisps, big pickled onions etc. – out from behind the bar.
I was stung into action on the matter by not one but two different barmen who have uttered the disdainful words “We don’t do crisps…” to me of late. But the act of considering all that I find troublesome about the current movement only served to highlight the joys of traditional, ostensibly shite snacks in a clearer, more glorious light.
In view of this epiphany and their increasing scarcity in the nation’s boozers, here’s a brief love letter to all things old school, encased in foil and largely ruinous for your long-term health.
As noted previously, one of my many gripes with some of the nu-wave nonsense is the overwhelming piles of miniature crockery, and thus members of staff to come and clear it, they allegedly necessitate.
Your standard trad-snack packaging not only ensures your tucker stays fresher than Paul Pogba’s latest Dad baiting barnet, but it’s single-handedly keeping the ancient Japanese art of origami alive amongst British men. Probably.
In seconds, even the most feckless pint-swiller can be taught how to turn a greasy packet into a tiny engineering masterpiece – a pleasingly compact triangle.
Failing that, foil packets stuff into an empty pint glass pretty easily. Having recently lost 2.5 litres of blood, severing a tendon and required 14 stitches in my left-hand, I can confirm that side plates do not cram quite so well.
The Perfect Platter
The true beauty of the foiled snack lies in their ease of sharing. One small tear down the spine of any nuts, crisps or popcorn packet is all it takes to open up a silver serving platter, a briny socialist utopia the size of a book where one and all can dip in to enjoy a handful of the delicious bounty within.
Pubs are all about involvement. Nothing personifies this more perfectly than the humble tear and share. Welcome to my treats, comrade.
No one has ever Instagrammed their Twiglets. This is a fact.
Countless thundering dullards, however, have spent 10 minutes framing a perfect snap of their artisanal morsel, moodily shadowed by a pint and a roaring fire, that precisely no one will ever care about.
Alice from the design team isn’t going to see your pathetic attempt at projecting a faux sense of urbanity, your 6 likes (3 from bot accounts), your choice of #hyggehunter, #99problemsbutapintaintone, #livestrong and suddenly reverse her decision to never ever even consider shagging you.
Grow up, order a packet of Discos and talk to the mate who’s sat patiently whilst you’ve conducted this pathetic and contrived PR exercise.
They’re Literally Cheaper Than Chips
Trad-snacks, with their larger than life flavours and austerity friendly prices, offer near unbeatable taste/cost ratios – right up there with a heavily discounted packet of Tangfastics.
“Pickled egg? 90p sir.”
“Wotsits? That’ll be thruppence.”
“Packet of dry roasted? Yours in return for a little more than a winning smile and a wink.”
As previously mentioned, the pricing structures on the nu-wave is careening wildly out of hand. And whilst I’m no economist, I’m willing to bark speculatively from the rooftops that this modern pub development is indicative of the kind of reckless spending compulsions that got the world into our current global financial hole in the first place.
THERE I SAID IT, IF YOU LIKE THOSE BIG PORK PIES IN PUBS, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE LEHMAN BROTHERS.
Heed Nanna’s Warning
In a bid to justify these scandalous prices, the portions of next-gen bites can, at times, be hefty. The key is in the name though, wise guy. I’m after a snack, something to gently bridge the gap, not some kind of disgustingly opulent Roman banquet.
Succumbing to a trendy bar snack with a post-work jar leaves you in weird dinner limbo. Do I proceed at the normal time with a meal I don’t really want, have half a dinner like some kind of lunatic or eat nothing at all and risk waking up at 3 am, stomach screaming?
The answer? Stop dicking about, go threes on a couple of packets of swine rinds at the boozer and glide into the evening’s meal at optimum levels of appetite.
A Portal To Simpler Times
Whilst salted nuts of all creeds are sensational, scratchings a genuine delight and Scampi Fries a feat of culinary engineering that will one day be recognised by NASA, ultimately, the crisp is king. And when it comes to pub crisps, the rule is the cheaper the better.
As far as I'm concerned, they’re tiered like this:
Disagree? Look at this absolute crock of muck. Think the honest lads at Smiths or KP would get involved in something so obviously deviant? Come on, wise up.
Hello whoever is in charge of “crisps” in this country has fucking lost it pic.twitter.com/sq2hAK0haZ— Chris Mandle (@chris_mandle) November 19, 2017
Whether you realise it or not, your salted friends are more than just a frugal belly filler, but a portal to a simpler, happy time – a childhood where you could happily inhale three packets of Scampi ‘n Lemon Nik Naks, judgment-free from your peers.
In a world where it’s increasingly gauche to indulge in the humble culinary pleasures of one’s youth†, they’re a tiny window of nostalgic indulgence that is now only socially acceptable at the pub. Incidentally, if a bar started selling Baby Bells for 50p a pop, I would travel to the end of the earth to drink there.
You can keep your £15 charcuterie boards and ramekins of olives. Sure, they have their place. But for me, licking the last crumbs of weird pink ‘bacon’ ash off your fingers after a swift packet of Frazzles and a pint is one of life’s purest pleasures. Leaning back to pour the salty meth that collects at the bottom of your KP packet into your gob is better than actual drugs. And I will never be so happy about a trip to the dentists than the one caused by a rogue pork scratching, blessed with the structural integrity of a diamond plated diamond. Why? Because the rest of the packet was so damn exquisite it made the subsequent extensive dental surgery seem both extremely reasonably priced and a joy to sit through.
*Raises grease stained glass*
†I once got a formal warning at a previous job for what essentially amounted to occasionally eating ketchup butties in and around clients.