Red Sky was a short-lived brand of potato chips (crisps) in the UK, made using “100% natural ingredients” by Walkers (Frito-Lay/PepsiCo).
The launch in 2009 was seen as a response to competition from the likes of Kettle Chips, Tyrrells, and Burts. The Red Sky packets didn’t mention the Walkers name, but the expensive advertising campaign should have been a clue that this was not a plucky upstart but really Big Crisp in disguise.
The slogan was “nature’s promise of a good day”, alluding to the ancient rhyme:
Red sky at night, sailors’ delight.
Red sky in the morning, sailors’ warning.
There are various variations, e.g. with shepherds instead of sailors. I think the rhyme applies quite well to crisps too, on the basis that eating them in the morning is a bit slovenly, and posh crisps are a particularly evening thing.
What were the flavours?
According to Talking Retail, the original flavours:
• West Country Bacon and Cream Cheese – 150g and 40g
• Anglesey Sea Salt (seasoned with award winning, natural, Halen Mon sea salt) – 150g and 40g
• Sour Cream and Green Herbs – 150g
• Roasted Red Peppers and Lime – 150g
The 150g SKU’s have an RSP of £1.79, and are available in cases of 12. The 40g SKU’s have an RSP £0.59 and are available in cases of 24.
They were later joined by Sea Salt and Suffolk Cider Vinegar in 2010. Then came English Cheddar and Red Onion, and at some point the Roasted Red Peppers and Lime were discontinued.
Perhaps surprisingly, although some other meat flavoured crisps (e.g. Beef Hula Hoops) manage to taste meaty without using any animal products, the Red Sky West Country Bacon and Cream Cheese did not, so they weren’t suitable for vegetarians.
What were they like?
Foodstuff Finds reviewed the West Country Bacon and Cream Cheese and Roasted Red Peppers and Lime flavoured crisps. They liked both.
However, Cheeseburger Crisps & Other Stories was more critical of the West Country Bacon & Cream Cheese crisps:
The 100% Great Taste, with 100% Natural Seasonings really isn’t very nice at all. I do get the bacon taste on first bite but it’s a bacon that’s been sitting in the fridge for far too long and gone off. Yuk. The after-taste is better by far but after one crunch into that off-tasting crisp you don’t want to attempt another. I did try several more because I was searching for the cream cheese. Couldn’t find it.
Verdict: surprisingly nasty. I wanted to like them but I couldn’t.
It’s possible that the flavour changed some time between 2009 and 2013 when the different bloggers wrote their reviews.
Whatever happened to them?
In November 2013, The Grocer reported, “Walkers’ premium crisp brand Red Sky has lost nearly all its supermarket listings.”
Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda have all stopped selling Red Sky crisps over the past six months, while Waitrose has delisted four products, taking the number of Red Sky lines it sells to just three.
“It’s the only real cock-up that Walkers have made,” said one insider. “They thought they could take a normal crisp, put it in a nice bag, take out all reference to Walkers and sell it at a premium. But you can’t fool consumers that easily. If it wasn’t a Walkers brand, Red Sky would have been out much earlier.”
Another source said: “Walkers tried to create a niche-looking crisp brand, but consumers saw through the fact it didn’t have the heritage or quality of alternative products like Kettle Chips, Tyrrells and Burt’s Chips.”
Walkers plans premium crisp line Redsky
Gemma Charles, Campaign, 9 December 2008
LONDON - Walkers is planning a major assault on Kettle Chips with the launch of an upmarket crisp brand, called Redsky, next year.
Walkers launches upmarket crisp brand
Martin Hickman, The Independent, 16 March 2009
A Red Sky at night may make Tyrrells take fright
Jim Riley, tutor2u, 28 March 2009