Flavors include horse meat, fugu (poison blowfish) and casu marzu (maggot cheese). The project is called “illegal chips,” although consuming the chips is still 100% legal, the company promises.
“Chips can be flavored to taste like anything. So why do all these chip companies have no imagination and keep making flavors that we can easily eat in real life? We wanted to expand the palate and give people a taste that they will never experience anywhere else,” says Dan Greenberg, Chief Revenue Officer of MSCHF, the art collective behind the “illegal” chips.
The project was difficult to execute given recent supply chain challenges, especially when creating such unorthodox chip seasonings, according to Greenberg.
“Doing anything that involves food is slow; it’s a regulated space (something MSCHF does not traditionally play in),” Greenberg said. “In addition, creating a new potato chip flavor from scratch is quite hard, and then doing that three times is even harder. It took many rounds of iteration and sampling and tasting. I can attest the first round was quite interesting but now they are scrumptious.”
MSCHF is known for its provocative statements about societal norms and luxury goods.
“The distinction between food animals and non-food animals is a social construction. The same, of course, can be said of law in general,” MSCHF said in its manifesto on the illegal chips.
Despite the flavors, the chips don’t contain any meat products. The horse meat and fugu flavors are vegan, and casu marzu is vegetarian.
The project is also meant to highlight the damaging environmental effect of raising animals for meat consumption.
This comes on the tail of a global climate deal struck on Saturday from the United Nations climate negotiations in Glasgow, Scotland. While the deal is focused on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and averting catastrophic global warming, the pledges won’t be enough to limit a planetary temperature rise to a key 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold.
►COP26 climate conference outcomes: COP26 climate deal boosts global emissions pledges but falls short on 1.5 degrees Celsius target
A study published in September in peer-reviewed journal Nature found that global greenhouse gas emissions from animal-based foods are twice those of plant-based foods. MSCHF said in its manifesto that it hopes to demonstrate the possibility of a “fully-synthetic luxury omnivorism” with the illegal chips.
This year, MSCHF collaborated with rapper Lil Nas X on the incendiary Satan Shoes, a modified version of Nike Air Max 97s with satanic symbolism. Only 666 pairs went on sale for $1,018, a reference to Luke 10:18, a Bible verse about Satan’s fall from heaven. The shoes immediately sold out, according to MSCHF.
In another “drop,” as MSCHF calls them, the collective sold 1,000 Andy Warhol sketches for only $250 each. The catch was only one of them was real, and the other 999 were copies of the original. The original was mixed in with the fakes, with no differentiation or certificate of authenticity
►MSCHF’s Andy Warhol drop: 1,000 Andy Warhol sketches will be sold for $250 each. The catch? 999 are forgeries.
When asked about the inspiration for “Illegal Chips” by USA TODAY, Greenberg responded: “It was too hard to get a horse burger in the states. This seemed easier.”
You can follow the reporter Michelle Shen @michelle_shen10 on Twitter.