Crunch Tators

Crunch Tators (History, FAQ & Marketing)

There are many oddball Frito Lay products that have been sold over the years alongside their classic chip varieties that everyone probably knows and loves. This is a company that has enjoyed making really unique snacks, and Crunch Tators fit right into this history of creating strange treats that are still really enjoyable. Crunchy items are also a big part of the Frito-Lay lineup as well, so you can trust that these chips will be crunchy, just as the name states.

Crunch Tators are one of the spiciest treats of the 80s and 90s, making them one of the original spicy treats that were sold in the snack food chip space. For those who love this kind of snack, the crunch and spice of Crunch Tators were probably a big hit. Crunchy snacks like Bugles existed alongside this treat during the same period, indicating a real preference for this kind of snack style during this time.

Please leave a review or any memories of this snack in the comments at the bottom of this page. Thank you!

If you never got to try Crunch Tators, you are probably wondering what they were like. You will need to keep reading to find out more about this snack and what you might have missed out on in the past. 

Crunch Tators


Frito Lay made the Crunch Tator. These were spicy jalapeno potato chips that were crunchy and hard. They were made between the late 80s and the early 90s. The bag showed an alligator on the front of the bag, and there were two flavors. The two flavors were “Hoppin’ Jalapeno” and “Mighty mesquite BBQ”.

These chips even made an appearance in Home Alone, sitting next to a can of Pepsi that was sitting next to Kevin when he was watching TV. This is where most kids realized that this product existed, and there was a real bond in kids’ minds with being cool and independent and these snacks. After all, Kevin was the coolest, and if you wanted to feel like you could run your life on your own without adults, you probably wanted to drink Pepsi and enjoy Crunch Tators like he was shown to do in the movie.

Frito-Lay has always been known for crunchy snacks, mostly chips. The company sells more snack foods than just these kinds of treats, but this was one of their more memorable chip varieties. From the branding of the product to the spicy and BBQ-inspired flavors, this was a very unique and niche product. Frito-Lay is better known for Doritos, Fritos, Ruffles, and many other classic chip varieties. They are not as well-known for less successful products like the Crunch Tator chip. 

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The livery of this product changed some over the years. The backgrounds were originally green and yellow for the jalapeno variety, and the red and the yellow bag was for the Mighty Mesquite. Over the years, the bags changed background colors subtly, but the overall design was similar. The design will remind you of a lot of Fritos bags during the same era, and the retro design will bring back a lot of memories for people who love chips of various kinds.

The gator on the bag was very cartoon-like, and he wore a cowboy hat on the BBQ chip bag and a sombrero on the Jalapeno bag. The name of the product was front and center in the middle of the bag in large block letters, and the flavor was written in cursive under this, also color-coded to the flavor of the chips. Since this chip brand did not last for very long, there never were any efforts to make the mascot more appropriate. There is a certain feel to this mascot that would likely not have survived into a modern market, but for their time, it was totally appropriate.

This bag of chips sold for the very reasonable price of $.69. This was affordable even then, and it made the snack popular with school-age kids. Many people remember getting this snack on their way home from school or out of the school vending machine to snack on. This was why so many people were so excited about this snack and so sad when it was removed from shelves. Most chips have always been spendy for kids to purchase, even out of vending machines. This last little treat could be easily purchased by a young kid, and this was a key part of its attraction.

Frito-Lay has been around since the early 1930s when Charles Elmer Doolin bought a chip recipe and started making chips. This was the first of the products that people now know Frito-Lay for. The original chips were eventually made into many more spin-off chip products, and the confectionaries that the company was making in the 30s went by the wayside. By the time Frito-Lay was renamed, no one even remembered that this company had ever made sweets instead of salty snacks. It’s hard to imagine the Frito-Lay company without thinking about chips, and this indicates how complete the conversion was to snack foods after the 30s.

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There were many really unique products that were made by the company over the years besides Crunch Tators. Even the Fritos that the brand is named for are less unique than some of the products like Crunch Tators. Frito-Lay and Pepsi-Cola merged in the 60s, and this made the chips and soda products be sold in pairs through mutual advertising for years. Many people remember Crunch Tators as being linked with Pepsi, as in the famous cameo in the Home Alone scene.

The Frito-Lay company stated at one point that they made two items that went together naturally. They made salty foods that made you thirsty, and they also made delicious drinks that made your thirst easy to attend to. Frito-Lay also started making more and more spicy snacks like Crunch Tators after their merger with Pepsi. Spicy Nacho Cheese products and other jalapeno chips were added to the lineup during this period, and many of these products have continued to be successful in the years since.

Many chip products are no longer made to be very crunchy in the way that Crunch Tators were. This is one of the things that many chip makers have gone away from, and it is rare to find any products like this that are in the chip section these days. Many people will remember items like Bugles, which were also offered with a strong crunch. Lots of people remember the sharp crunch of the Crunch Tator with great fondness, and they state that they miss this feature of this chip above many other things.

Some people state that kettle chips that are made by many other brands these days are the closest option for the crunchy nature of the Crunch Tator. These are usually the kind of chips that are considered to be “healthier” than other chips on the market, so many people who love strongly-flavored chips have not tried kettle chips. If you are missing the crunchy nature of the Crunch Tator chip, you should give any of the various kettle chip styles a try.

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There are many forums online where people compare notes about which chip products are the most like the Crunch Tator chip, and make suggestions about which products are the closest to this beloved snack. Many people argue the most over which product is like the BBQ version of this chip brand, which is likely not that unexpected since BBQ flavors can vary quite a lot. There is no shortage of suggestions about both of the two Crunch Tator flavors, and you might be able to find lots of other great products to try if you love this kind of chip.

For people who have never had Crunch Tators, you will have to speculate which of these chips is the closest to the original product. You will still get to try lots of great chip products, and even if you do not find the exact replica of Crunch Tators, you might learn about some new products that you will love just as much.


Crunch Tators Logo


  • Potatoes
  • Vegetable Oil
  • (Contains one or more of the following: Peanut, Cottonseed, Partially Hydrogenated (Cottonseed or Soybean) Oil)
  • Sugar
  • Dextrose
  • Salt
  • Natural Flavors
  • Onion
  • Tomato
  • Tortilla Yeast
  • Paprika
  • Monosodium Glutamate
  • Spices
  • Garlic
  • Citric Acid and Paprika Extractives

Crunch Tators was truly unique for many reasons, and this is why the people who loved them the most miss them until this day. Crunch Tators were so unique that they have not even been copied by other brands in any way, either. Many of the other products that are spicy that are in the chip market today are thinner and not as crunchy.


Serving Size1 3/4 Ounce% Daily Value
Amount Per Serving
Potassium 680mg
Vitamin A0%
Vitamin C15%



Crunch Tators ad from the 80s:

A video about forgotten snacks that people wish would be brought back to the market:


What happened to Crunch Tators?

Despite the big promotion push, Frito Lays discontinued Crunch Tators in the mid-’90s.

Please leave a review or any memories of this snack in the comments below. Thank you!

Click here for a full A-Z list of Snacks and Candy


  1. I really wish you would bring them back why not try the new generation to get to try them and please the old gen who loved them.i would love to be able to try them again before I pass. I’m 52 now and I would purchase them. Make a promotion see how they do on the market wouldn’t hurt to try I’m sure you’ve made a lot on the other product not to try again.

    1. They are coming back for a very limited time to Dollar General stores. I work for Frito. In my area we’re told to expect a couple cases for each store this week or next week. That’s probably all we’ll get.

      1. I can’t find them now…can they bring them back thats the only chips I like an love plzzz talk to them about bringing them back.

  2. Idk what made me think of these chips but I’m earing bbq lays right now and remember as a kid loving t hff e bbq, I used to have a 711 down t bgg e street from me in ft. Lauderdale and would get them all the time. Its Jan 9 2023 and I see some plp have spotted them at dollar general I’ll make sure I swing by tomorrow to see if they still have them,I’m so excited.

  3. Im eating a bag right now!!!
    I missed them from when I was a kid I just about smashed a whole bag on one night I got to buy another bag this evening.
    On sale for $4.00 a bag.

  4. Oh man, I miss these chips! I remember stopping at 7-11 after school and getting the Crunch Tators BBQ chips with a bottle of Lipton Iced Tea, a glass bottle! Before Lipton ruined it by making it “brisk”. I hate it now. Bring back the Crunch Tators!! 😀

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