I may take some flack for this post, but I’ve recently reconnected with a childhood love. Something so delicious, so special, yet so misunderstood – like the “ugly” girl with glasses in a high school comedy (before she puts on a slutty dress, ditches the glasses and wears her hair down). I’m talking, of course, about the delicious snack food pictured above: Funyuns. Funyuns get little respect these days, despite a well-established history of satiating little kids and stoners through five different decades (introduced 1969). They’ve even been immortalized by the Onion (no relation). And yet, Funyuns are rarely mentioned in the same breath as Doritos, Cheetos or other flavored snack chips (Funyuns sit more on the Bugles tier of the chip hierarchy). Funyuns have sadly never worn the sluttly dress of public approval.
I however, have always recognized their greatness. When I was a kid, sometimes I’d be able to finagle a bag into the week’s groceries. Then I would set about mentally rationing them so they’d last seven days. They usually lasted 1.5 days – Funyuns just went too perfectly with huge glasses of Pepsi during Atari 2600 marathons. In my teens, Funyuns and Mountain Dew were two cornerstones of my food pyramid (the rest of the pyramid was comprised solely of the various permutations of the Taco Bell menu, leading to a pyramidal body shape).
There is some irony here because, as even slight acquaintances of mine know, I friggin hate onions. I would like to remove them from the universe. I cannot stand the sight, the texture. Blugh. I would like to see all the world’s onions smashed into a fine powder. Good riddance. That’s a lot of powder, though – why don’t we mix it up with some corn meal and fry it in ring shapes?
Ha-ha! See, the geniuses at Frito Lay have fooled the average consumer into believing these are actually fried onions. They are circular like onion rings (well, in theory – by the time you open the bag they are generally only 10 million c-shaped Funyun fragments in the bag. A still-intact Funyun is a rare snack food artifact), but they are actually just some onion powder-infused dough fried up like o-rings. Read the fine print: “Onion Flavored Rings.” That’s brilliant marketing.
I find Funyuns to be best paired with a turkey + American cheese wrap (you know, in a tortilla). Add a nice Merlot and you’re all set. Side benefit: Funyuns pack fewer calories than peer snack foods, so the deliciousness/calories ratio is off the charts. Also, the “Funyun powder” residue can be used to chalk youth soccer fields, crime scenes, etc.
Although Funyuns are rarely seen as anything but punch-lines in pot-related comedies, there have been a couple of spinoffs – the true mark of a great product. Like Twix, there’s a wasabi flavored variant (seems a better fit here):
And there’s a Flamin’ Hot offshoot:
Sadly, I haven’t been able to try either of the sequels yet. But I will purchase on sight. If the Flamin’ Hots are anywhere near as delish as the FH Cheetos then they are probably a perfect complement to a double bottle of Yellow Tail Shiraz.
The cons of Funyuns? I can really only think of one: damn they hurt the roof of your mouth! I thought Scoops were bad! But it’s the kind of pain that’s worth it, and I think in 2-3 weeks I will have a full upper palate again.
So get off your high horse and grab a bag of Funyuns….I guarantee enjoyment, with only a modicum of damage to the the roof of your mouth.
Well done, Frito Lay, well done….