I love Lay's Flaming Hot Potato Chips. They are delicious. They are so hot the bag glows when you open it. It's like a nuclear furnace of spicy hot, goodness. These chips came out in the mid nineties and the Tuttle clan devoured them. No one else we knew would touch them. They were too hot for the average palate. So like most things I love, they went away. That was not too surprising chip flavors come and go, but there was a little added mystery with Flaming Hots, some times we would find a bag. They would end up at some random gas station on a road trip a My sister and I would look at each other in wonder and have this following conversation.
First Question: "Didn't they stop making these?"
Analysis: Gazing at the chips in shear wonder, finding a lost tresure. I imagine this is what Indian Jones felt like after every great find . It makes me a quickie-mart-archaeologist.
Second Question: "How old do you think these are?"
Analysis: Will these chips kill me, personal safety must be considered. There is only one of me after all, the world needs me.
Final Question: "I don't care they are flaming hot Chips! Lets get 'em"
Final Analysis: My well being is less important to me than my favorite chip.
This whole scenario played out once a year or so, it was a little like seeing a ghost, or actually touching a friend you though was dead, making eye contact and then watching them walking away, smiling. Sure you are glad they are alive, but where did they come from, what happened to them, when will you see them again?. It leaves more questions than answers. But at least I go to eat Flaming Hot Potato chips.
I moved then moved to Texas. I walked into a Quickie-Mart and there they were. I looked around suspiciously and bought 4 bags since you never know when you will see them again. A few days later I went to a grocery store where they were sitting on a shelf, as common as a bag of Sour Cream and Onions. I had not seen Flaming Hotsin a grocery store in 6 years. I looked around and grabbed 5 bags like they were filled with money, walked to register, handed the cashier my card, and skipped to my car, forgetting my cart and the rest of my food. I had found my one true love again. She had come back to me.
I lived for six years in chip bliss, sure I tried an other chips hear and there but it was never serious and Flaming Hots understood, she went home with other guys, and girls. Dirty , dirty little chip. It was an open relationship. My sister became very, very jealous of what I had found. I had Flaming Hots again and she was still alone, in a world without them. She wouldn't talk to me for a while out of jealousy. She said I talked about them constantly and rubbed in what I had, but how can you not talk about the one you love? She said the cosmos will not stand for my arrogance and pride.
She was right.
I moved back to the southeast, a land with the wisdom to fry cornbread in bacon fat, but without the wisdom to love nuclear hot chips, or people of color. I knew these facts and moved to Savannah knowing I was going to be leaving Flaming Hots behind. There was little I could do about systemic racism, but with the chips, I had a plan.
I would ignore them.
I didn't even look at Flaming Hots once I found out I was leaving. I wanted to remember the good times. I didn't want to binge, eating bag after bag, thinking "I only have a few more weeks until you are gone again." No Flaming Hots would hate me for that. We had a good time relationship. I would sometimes go a month or two without her, so she wouldn't miss me for a while. Once I was in the South I knew I would be to distracted by sweet tea and Krystals too much to miss Flaming Hots, besides there are always Spicy Thai Kettle Chips. I was doing well in Georgia, I hadn't even thought of Flaming Hots.
Then, she called.
She was out on the town, at an old hangout, wondering where I was. (Actually that is not true, a drinking buddy of mine called last night, and that call really fits into the slightly insane narrative about chips, so I used it.) She didn't know I had moved. Chips don't have Facebook. It made me miss my old friend. In a way I feel like a soap star or maybe Peter Parker, I have this one true love that keeps floating into and out of my life, I have little control of circumstances of our next meeting. Fortunately I do know how the next meeting will end, with my mouth on fire and my belly full.