There was a time when the people of Great Britain were willing to consume a £3.95 wrap with a humble packet of Quavers. Those days are over.
Now only posh crisps will suffice, made from farm-reared potatoes fed on fresh grass and hugs and wrapped in matte-finish packets covered in whimsical pictures of people in bathing suits doing handstands in Victorian times and dogs in flying goggles.
They line the shelves of pretty much every mid to high-end café now and present a baffling array of flavours - how to navigate this crispy maelstrom?
Here I attempt to rank them by taste in reverse order (parsnip, apple etc crisps were not considered, I'm not a monster).
Pioneers of the posh crisp game, these US-originating chips caused a sensation on their arrival in the UK, leading citizens to hold ritual burnings of Walkers's Salt & Lineker and question how they even survived in the PKCE (pre-Kettle Chips era).
Sadly they've been swamped by competition in recent years, while their overpowering flavour (Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar I'm looking at you) propelled them into the realm of 'drunk crisps'.
Probably the most ubiquitous, but also the most overrated.
Tyrells opts to leave the skin on, which does add a richness, but they're just too damn thin.
Look how happy Burts' master fryers are! They just bloody love to make crisps!
This passion is clear in their similarly exuberant flavours like Firecracker Lobster and Guinness Rich Beef Chilli. This is a solid crisp.
With violently metallic packaging, Salt Dog positions itself as the rough n' ready crisp.
The Sea Salt & Malt Vinegar are outragesously morish, while the Jalapeno & Coriander will make sure absolutely everyone in the train carriage hates you.
Could these crisps look any more rustic? It's like Mackies sourced the packets from recycled ration books, threw a handful of soil in the bag and then gave it a few kicks for good measure.
Hailing from Scotland, this is a very distinctive, thick crisp that has an almost baked flavour. The Haggis & Cracked Black Pepper crisps are the finest. I'm conscious I've said 'crisps' a lot.
If Zeus held a charades night in his modestly-sized apartment, a bowl of these would be on the coffee table.
Pipers have everything – the crunch, the subtle flavour and the pleasing aftertaste.
If I end up on death row and have to choose a last meal, simply slide a single Pipers Karnataka Black Pepper & Sea Salt through the bars and into my whimpering mouth.
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