Welcome to Chip Chat, a column where I eat as many novelty chip* flavors as humanly possible, then justify it by reviewing the chips and pairing them with a game I think they’re particularly suited for, like a garbage sommelier who specializes in junk food instead of wine. This is, I insist, not a thinly veiled excuse to buy novelty chip flavors—but if it was, that sure would be convenient, now wouldn’t it.
*That’s crisps, for the British readers among us.
The Game and the Context
I usually do this the other way around: I come across a chip so interesting or sublime that I am moved to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and match it with a game. In February, though, candy company Trolli celebrated the release of the long-awaited Elden Ring by releasing Sweet Peachie Elden Rings, a limited-edition version of their Sweet Peachie Os. As a sucker for gimmicks who once bought Cup Noodle solely because Nissin slapped Cloud Strife’s face on the packaging, I was disappointed to learn the Elden Rings were not available for public sale. Rather, Trolli seems to have sent them to a select few industry figures, fans, and influencers.
We have searched The Lands Between with our delicious sour gummi bodies and have found these Sweet Peachie Elden Rings.
For the sake of all the Tarnished, we will devour them with great speed! #ELDENRING @ELDENRING pic.twitter.com/Caz3nVNO8P
— Trolli Candy (@Trolli_USA) March 1, 2022
I am the most casual type of FromSoftware fan in that I derive most of my enjoyment of these games from the character creator and watching my husband play until I fall asleep on the couch, so I do understand why Trolli did not think to send me some of their Peachie Elden Rings. However, I also care deeply enough about snacks and video games to make it an entire bit, and from the moment I read the phrase “Sweet Peachie Elden Rings,” I had to know: are peach rings and Elden Ring the perfect pairing? And if they aren’t, what snack would I pair with the game instead?
But first, I had to overcome Trolli’s oversight and acquire some candy. Given the fact that the Sweet Peachie Elden Rings were a temporary rebrand of Trolli’s Sweet Peachie Os, I assumed this would be simple enough. Unfortunately, the CVS, the Target, a 7-Eleven, and three Duane Reades in my area had Trolli Peach Ring-shaped vacancies in their usually vast candy supplies. I am not yet at the point of scouring every drug store, grocery store, and shopping mall for name brand peach rings, nor will I purchase 51 ounces of them from the internet. Still, I would not be deterred. Target, at least, offered alternatives in the form of Smart Sweets Peach Rings and Target’s Favorite Day brand. In the absence of Trolli brand rings, I decided I can work from a vibe alone.
(Perhaps this is where I should insert a disclaimer that while my childhood self loved to wild out on various gummies, I have never particularly enjoyed peaches or peach-flavored things and prefer the mouth-destroying acidity of any and all things sour. This to say, I was heading into this exercise with light skepticism that sugary gummies could match Elden Ring’s gorgeous-but-sorrowful high-fantasy tone, but let us return to the candy.)
I first tried the Smart Sweets Peach Rings, which are flavored with alternative sweeteners instead of cane sugar. The rings themselves are mottled yellow and orange with a muted palette thanks to natural colorings, and I would describe the external texture as vaguely dusty from the alternative sweetener coating. Unlike most gummy candy, I would describe the flavor as extremely natural and so subtle that I felt I only got the full effect when I shoved two or three of them into my mouth. Unfortunately, doing so made me fear for my teeth in a way that I have only ever experienced with the exceptionally sticky caramel of a Milk Dud. While I respect FromSoftware’s “less is more” approach to narrative design, I discovered I do not enjoy it as much when the philosophy is applied to candy.
The Favorite Day Peach Rings were much closer to what I expect when I think of peach rings: a striking sunrise of red, orange, and yellow with a crystalline sugar coating. The whole experience is permeated by wafts of fake peach scent, which first hit you when you tear open the bag. The flavor is just as outrageously artificial, a summery, syrupy peach that had me longing for warmer days and a beach. It’s a Bath & Body Works candle of a candy (respectfully).
But is it Elden Ring? By all accounts, you are not in The Lands Between to relax or have a good time. The beaches are swarming with land octopuses: beaked, spherical, writhing masses of tentacles that are just as gross and scary as they sound. Sunbathe at your own risk.
A Flamin’ Hot Take
With the exception of Bloodborne‘s blood vials, it’s difficult to even imagine what any of FromSoftware’s HP-restoring consumables might taste like, which makes it slightly more challenging to pair with an appropriate snack. For example, is Estus Soup kind of a savory bone broth type of situation? Is Sekiro swigging gallons of magic blue Gatorade from that Healing Gourd? Is Elden Ring‘s Flask of Crimson Tears filled with a fantasy-cold medicine cocktail of painkillers and cough suppressants?
The other consumables in Elden Ring are things like three varieties of raisin, various cured meats, status-clearing boluses, boiled seafood, and pickled fowl feet. I have never eaten pickled chicken feet, even in potato chip form, and feel unlikely to encounter medicinal potato chips. (Though if they did exist, I would be relatively unsurprised to find medicinal potato chips in an American grocery store. It feels very… us.)
My initial thought was to pair Elden Ring with a snack with a little more grit and crunch, something that filled the ring theme. (Funyuns. My first thought was Funyuns.) I did not have any strong opinions on Funyuns (yet), but the concept felt like a good place to start. I could not confidently say any FromSoftware character has ever even tasted the luxury of a fresh peach, but onions seem like less of a stretch. (Plus, the Catalina Knights and their onion-shaped armor are beloved characters in earlier FromSoftware games.)
But what’s better than a Funyun, I reasoned, if not a Flamin’ Hot Funyun? Elden Ring enemies certainly bring the heat, so maybe my pairing should, too? Tracking down these spicy snacks was an odyssey worthy of, if not a main questline, then at least a sidequest, involving no fewer than six stores and a lot of patience from my husband. I eventually purchased them online. When they finally arrived, I sliced open the not one, but two boxes that contained my treasure with trembling hands and bated breath, ready to crown the Elden Lord (of Snacks) once and for all.
But it was not to be.
The Flamin’ Hot Funyuns arrived in cheerful yellow bags that contrasted with the bright, angry red of the snacks depicted on the front. The bag did not lie; the Funyuns were shockingly red. Many of them had also broken inside the bag and were no longer complete rings, which I found amusing and thematically appropriate given how players collect fragments of the shattered Elden Ring from various bosses.
I was surprised by how little I cared for the Flamin’ Hot Funyuns, but the heat overpowered everything else and didn’t offer much in the way of flavor. I’ve only eaten Funyuns a few other times in my life, but I remember them having a pungent onion flavor that was almost as off-putting as it was delicious. However, it couldn’t compete with the sheer spice of the Flamin’ Hot seasoning. Thinking this was specific to the Funyuns, I assembled a capsaicin charcuterie of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and Flamin’ Hot Nacho Cheese Doritos. (The only way I could reasonably buy Flamin’ Hot Funyuns was in a box that contained five other varieties of Flamin’ Hot snacks, which arrived in about a million tiny little snack-sized bags.) (No, I did not realize this before purchasing. Yes, I regret it.) These provoked more of a reaction from my nose than my taste buds. I do not begrudge anyone their enjoyment of the Flamin’ Hot brand, but ultimately I came to the conclusion that I prefer snacks with a bit more balance between flavor and heat. In retrospect, it may have been a fool’s errand to search for nuance in my junk food, but live laugh learn or whatever.
Still, Elden Ring is a vast game with a lot of depth to discover, and I believed I could do better than a one-note snack. My search continued.
One Ring to Rule Them All
I wanted to stick with my original train of thought, so my next candidate was another onion ring-themed snack. I acquired some aptly-named Onion Rings from a local grocery store. This snack is made by Nongshim, the Korean company that also manufactures Shin Ramyun and Chapagetti. The metallic green bag shows a cool onion mascot named DJ Yang spinning some sick beats. I know they are sick beats because DJ Yang sparkles and wears cool sunglasses. Instead of music notes or other similar signifiers, DJ Yang’s turntable sends up smooth, pale gold onion rings.
I was impressed by how many of the Onion Rings were intact (almost all of them) when I opened the bag, and even more impressed by the flavor. The rings are smooth and pale like the bag art suggests, though a bit smaller and more tubular than actual fried onion rings. To be clear, the Onion Rings aren’t potato chips; per the ingredients, they contain flour, onion, and a few other ingredients, which gives them an unambiguous onion flavor. The pure onion is offset slightly by a sort of batter-like taste from the flour, which overall creates a mild, lightly sweet snack that tastes so much like an onion ring it’s almost uncanny. The texture of the Onion Rings is light and airy, with a spectacular crunch reminiscent of fresh-from-the-fryer tempura batter.
I enjoyed them far more than the Funyuns, particularly the crisp but not oily texture. I’m no scientist, so I can’t prove that the ring shape made the Onion Rings taste better, but I am certain it made them significantly more fun to eat. I think they are a fine match for Elden Ring. So is this it? Are Nongshim’s Onion Rings deserving of the title of Elden Lord (of Snacks)?
I believe so, yes. But there is a caveat.
This journey began when Sidequest’s Editor-in-Chief Melissa jokingly asked our chat if creating peach rings no one could have was the true Elden Ring experience. Instinctively, I disagreed with the notion.
“I feel like this is out of line with the Elden Ring experience, as community sharing is one of the major reasons the games are so beloved. Players leave notes to guide each other along the way, and a special edition peach ring that is not available to the community at large is antithetical to the experience. In this essay I will…” I replied, also joking.
But the more I thought about it, the truer it felt. I’ve spent very little time playing FromSoftware games myself, but I enjoy watching them, and I enjoy watching the community band together around shared experiences like the pain of being maidenless, meme-worthy messages (“try finger but whole,” “behold, dog!”) or summons like the “Let Me Solo Her” guy.
And so… who am I to impose one true snack pairing on such a diverse fanbase? I stand by my recommendation, especially if you enjoy allium-heavy savory snacks. However, if Elden Ring‘s popularity has proven anything, it’s that each experience is unique. There are ten different starting classes and very few instructions in Elden Ring, which means there are as many ways to play the game as there are players, and every single one will get something different out of the game. I can accept that perhaps Sweet Peachie O’s or even Flamin’ Hot Funyuns are someone else’s Elden Lord (of Snacks). Savory or sweet, Elden Ring is big enough for both.
Read the rest of the Chip Chat series.
Madison Butler is Sidequest’s self-proclaimed jock editor. She co-founded the blog Critsumption and once got really into powerlifting via Fitness Boxing for the Nintendo Switch. She tweets at @_maddilo.