Product Type: KP Snacks
Newest Review: ... and BBQ Beef. My personal favourite is definitely the cheese and onion! Hula Hoops are essentially, crunchy potato rings which are... more
Member Name: davidbuttery
Date: 21/08/10, updated on 21/08/10 (89 review reads)
Advantages: Excellent crunch, reasonable taste, easy to find, not too expensive
Disadvantages: Chicken flavour isn't quite there, quite a lot of potential allergens
Hula Hoops are one of those snacks that seem to have been around since the potato was introduced to these shores. In fact, they were introduced in 1973, which makes them about the same age as Skips (1974), which as it happens also come from KP. It was in fact from the back of one of these packets of crisps that I first noticed the town of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, the location of KP headquarters. I've never actually been there, and its only other significance to me is as the end of the M42, but given the choice between Hula Hoops and a rather congested and uninteresting motorway I know which I would choose!
For many years Hula Hoops had only the one flavour, which is basically ready salted although KP call them "Original". The lure of extra profits from more varieties could not be resisted indefinitely, however, and after a while new flavours started to appear. One or two of them have not stood the test of time (most regrettably in my opinion the delicious cheddar cheese variety) but about half a dozen, not counting occasional special editions, are now available. These are often sold in multipacks of six (or seven), with two packets of each flavour: one with original, salt & vinegar and cheese & onion; the other with two each of smoky bacon, roast chicken and BBQ beef. In the seven packs, one of the three flavours has three bags instead of two, chosen at random. Exciting, huh?
Much as the idea appealed to me, I decided in the end that eating one of *every* flavour really was rather excessively gluttonous, so I chose one at random, which happened to be roast chicken. Well okay, not *quite* random: I picked this one partly to take myself out of my usual salt & vinegar comfort zone! This comes in packets in a rather odd shade of orange-brown that reminds me of the paintwork on a 1970s British Leyland car. I'm not entirely sure that that's the brand image that KP's consultants will have had in mind, but at least it's obvious on the shelves! The "Hula Hoops" logo is quite simple: a slightly stylised giant "potato ring" (as they're officially defined; "crisp" is actually pretty tightly defined in the food regulations, and these don't count) with the "Hula Hoops" name plastered all over it in bright red.
There's a prominent label at the top of the bag advertising that the snacks contain no artificial flavourings or colourings and no MSG (monosodium glutamate) and that they're made with 100% sunflower oil. Not that I have anything against this, but just occasionally I think it would be nice for crisps, which are after all an unnecessary snack, to sell themselves on their flavour first. They're not, and never will be, a health food and I really don't see the need to pretend that they are. Anyway, more important nutritional information is that a 25g multipack bag contains 129 kcal and 7.2g of salt, and that they're suitable for vegetarians. (What? You expected meat in meat flavour crisps? Allow me to emit hollow laughter for a while...) Plenty of potential allergens, I'm afraid: milk, barley, wheat and gluten, with the usual backside-covering "may contain" for egg, soya and mustard.
Can there be anyone in the country these days who doesn't know what Hula Hoops look like? It would seem unlikely, especially given that enormous one on the front of the pack! But just in case: they're the usual dark yellow crisp colour, and are shaped as (often rather wobbly) hollow cylinders. They don't look like hula hoops (the toy) very much at all, but are you honestly surprised about that? Their best feature in my view is their crunch, which is superb: satisfying and loud without being so hard as to break your teeth. The flavour was adequate, I suppose; I've rarely found chicken crisps to be very good, but these are no worse than most and at least have a slight spiciness to them that prevents the underlying blandness of the potato starch from becoming too dominant.
As of the time of writing, you could pick up a seven-pack at Tesco for £1.38, but it's always worth checking for special offers as Hula Hoops seem to be discounted quite regularly. If you're willing to use the discount shops, you can often find a multipack for a pound, though you might have to put up with the crisps (sorry, "potato rings") inside being all of the same flavour. I think they're reasonably good value as these things go, and I'm not surprised that they've stayed popular for nearly four decades now. Recommended, especially if you like a bit of crunch with your snack.
Summary: Some crunch for your lunch