Old Batman Tortilla Chips!

Back in 1992, the weirdly named “Street Kids” company sought to capitalize on Batman’s box office successes with TORTILLA CHIPS SHAPED LIKE HIS LOGO.

Street Kids already had major product tie-in successes with the first Batman flick, but the chips coincided with Batman Returns – easily my favorite Batman movie, and actually one of my favorite movies, period. I know there was (and continues to be) a mixed reaction to that film, but I gush about it with no asterisks. I loved everything about it in 1992, and I appreciate it even more in 2013. From an opening credits sequence that still gives me goosebumps, to a distracted Penguin fantasizing about his “French flipper trick,” Batman Returns succeeded on every front.

I would’ve been more than happy to eat tortilla chips in its honor. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to recall Batman Tortilla Chips being locally available at the time.

…which is odd, because from everything I’ve read, the chips were IMMENSELY popular. I’ve even found an old newspaper article that heralded them as a great game-changer for the junk food industry — a veritable evolutionary jump that would surely pave way for other chip brands to come up with cooler shapes.

Chances are, more than a few of you ate these chips. You lucky bastards.

Before we continue, one note! Due to the packaging’s “first movie” color scheme, many fans remember it as something that came out in 1989. But from everything I’ve found, the chips definitely debuted in ’92. If you’re ready to swear that you ate these in 1989, prove it.

I should’ve Photoshopped seven halos onto that photo. Batman Tortilla Chips were beautiful, and though the ratio of intact-to-broken chips was likely around 10:1, the ones that did keep their shape were almost too cool to eat. That’s fine with me, because they’re now twenty-years-old and stink like milky paint.

You have to understand, Batman was a huuuge deal back then. He didn’t have much competition in the way of other “comic book movies,” and even so, his popularity transcended that anyway. I think part of the palpable resistance to Batman Returns was that it was simply too weird a movie to be the “everything for everyone” that the first film was. In the years between the two, Batman was THE man.

So no, these chips weren’t about “sparking interest” or selling tickets. The interest was already there. People ate these because it was a cardinal sin to choose the chips that weren’t shaped like bat logos. If you had the option, there was only one option.

Tortilla chips have a nasty habit of breaking, but there’s always a way to spin a negative. The broken chips were secretly even more fun than the whole ones, since you got to fabricate your own meanings for their shapes.

Plus, the broken ones helped to absolve you of guilt. Look, I didn’t eat these in 1992, but if I did, I know I would’ve been apprehensive about chomping intact Batman logos to death. I was born with the grating instinct to treat ephemera like it has a different definition, and ruining picture perfect corn bat logos would’ve seemed unbelievably wasteful. In that sense, the broken chips were a necessary evil. I could eat them without crying.

The back of each bag had a special offer for a Batman Nite Lite. Even within Street Kids’ own item description, “nite lite” and “night light” are used interchangeably.

The nite lites were not new. Street Kids sold a bazillion of the things back in ’89, and it was perhaps those successes that inspired them to make Batman Tortilla Chips in the first place.

The nite lites were three bucks each, shipping included. As you can see, I have one. Incredibly, it still works!

It’s tremendously difficult to photograph an illuminated nite lite, but I did my best. The order form on the bags championed it as being “too low to be distracting, but bright enough to prevent accidents.”

I must take issue with that first part. How could a glowing Batman logo be anything but distracting? How could I walk into a room and IGNORE the glowing Batman logo? I’d need to be blind or at least hardened by military training to pull that off.

Final note: The last ingredient listed on the chip bag is “trace of lime.” I didn’t think I could like these any more than I did, and then I go and read that. “Trace of lime.” Not lime, or lime juice. “Trace of lime.” It sounds like some ancient artifact we should all be competitively hunting for.

44 Responses to Old Batman Tortilla Chips!

  1. Catwoman choose to eat a mouse. The Penguin ate raw fish. But Matt won’t eat 20 year old tortilla chips? For shame!

  2. Back then? Bat Man has ALWAYS been a huge deal. That said, I have no recollection of ever having seen these Bat Man chips.

  3. For the first time in my life, I want to learn how to make homemade tortilla chips, just to have some (edible) Batman chips. You’ve shared a lot of licensed food products, so you know what I mean when I say that the accuracy of the shape on these is really impressive.

  4. @Commissioner Gordon: I don’t disagree but it was at a crazy high back then. Remember, for the bulk of kids who didn’t read comics, our idea of “Batman” was Adam West, or the pretty saccharine cartoon adaptations that came before BM: TAS. For people like me, Batman went from 0 to 100, just like that.

    (Of course, I was always more into the villains. Totally obsessed with all of them from the first two movies, and for a time, I even dug Carrey’s Riddler. But I think time has been kind to Keaton, too.)

  5. If only they had altered the night lite to PROJECT the Bat Signal, that thing would’ve been so much cooler. No doubt more people would’ve heard about these chips and they’d still be making them to this day. The Bat Signal makes all the difference over an ordinary night lite.

  6. I remember begging my parents for months for a batman t-shirt. Everybody at school already had one and I was already an outcast so not having one just made it worse.

    I also remember the sodas at McDonalds had batman lids that could be used as Frisbees when Batman Returns came out.

  7. You know, on second thought, after looking at the bag more closely and seeing that it’s only one ounce, I want to say I used to see these alot at Toys ‘R Us back in the day when they had so much random Bat Man shit all over the place.

  8. I am interested in who said that it would change the face of snack food as we know it. I don’t know if Matt quoting himself in a school paper counts for citation on that front either.

  9. Wow, I press F5 and I get five new articles to read. I guess that’s what I get for not clearing my cache.

  10. For me, the Tim Burton Batman flicks were what triggered my love for the character, for sure. I was never averse to reading comic books but I didn’t have one anywhere remotely near me nor did any of my friends get into it so I was pretty insulated from the culture. When the movie hit, like with much of the rest of the nation, it was instant Batman fever. I’m quoting someone here, but I sadly cannot remember who, by saying that Batman: The Animated Series was the best version of the franchise. It’s the one I measure all other aspects to and it’s a direct result of Burton’s movies.

  11. As per usual I’m so jealous of you Matt, you allways have the coolest stuff! :p

  12. When I was a kid, we had this plastic Batman cup from Taco Bell or someplace like that. It had the Batmobile on it and a list of its specs. I didn’t give a shit about Batman back then but I never forgot that stupid cup.

    These chips have an AMAZING shape. I can’t even recall the last time I saw unusually-shaped tortilla chips.

  13. This reminds me of Batman cereal, which also coincided with the release of Batman Return. As it was the first cereal I’d ever had that combined a chocolaty goodness akin to Cocoa Puffs with marshmallows like that of Lucky Charms, my taste buds had gone to heaven on that boring evening at my Grandma’s in Missouri. Said taste buds would never go back again until around Halloween (wink wink).

  14. Any follow up would have to be the Batman cereal that came out about 1989/90 and the Batman Returns cereal. I have to agree that Batman Returns is weird and all over the place, and that’s because Tim Burton was unleashed for that one. With that being said I like Batman Returns ’cause I had a HUGE crush on Catwoman at the time it came out.

  15. Where do you find this stuff and unopened too. Is there just a steady stream of boxes of coolness that get delivered to your house?

    The Keaton/Burton Batman movies were too cool for Hollywood. Batman Returns is one of my favorites too. Christopher Walken as a villain, need I say more?

  16. Hmmmmmm, Kor-Zergo bears a striking resemblance to Mac Tonight…..

  17. For several summers of my youth, I worked the games of an amusement park. You could tell what was hot that year by the T-shirts. One summer, it was Bart Simpson “Don’t have a cow, man” shirts. Another, it was the Batman logo T-shirt. It was kind of off-putting to look out from my game and see hordes of bat signals strolling my way. Like the Joker was playing some cruel trick, the outcome of which was yet to be revealed……

  18. Praise the Lord, I thought I was the only person who had “Batman Returns” as his favourite B film,(Nolan’s oeuvre included). Trans-Atlantic hug to a gentleman and a scholar.

  19. I really seem to remember eating these as early as 1990, but time kind of blends together. I actually redeemed the night light offer even though I was too old to sleep with one at that age. I had totally forgotten about this until now. Thanks!

  20. It could be just my imagination, but I seem to remember some Batman tortilla chips being just regular sized bat symbol shaped. Or it could be mythical like the famous “reverse TMNT pies” alot of people remember but there seems to be no evidence of them. I just don’t remember these.

  21. I hate to break it to you, but the lime is not a green lime, but the chemical lime, which is used to process the corn and would be in trace amounts in the end product.

    Sorry. Have some hint o lime tostitos instead!

  22. Matt, Batman might be one hundred on your scale, but for us, he’s a million. I can’t think of anyone more important to our city after myself than Batman. What with rampant police incompetency and all these masked lunatics running around causing mayhem everywhere you look. Batman is like a gift from Heaven to us.

    But, I’ll tell you something. The worst of the bunch is that Bat-Girl. She’s always sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong and thinks she’s providing some kind of service to the good citizens of this city with her wrecklessness. And she has the nerve to tell me what we really need is stricter laws, harsher punishments to fit the crime, and more readily available psychological counseling and help for these people. Where does that bitch get off? You’d think her parents would have taught her better. I’m the one who runs Gotham City, not some cheap bimbo in a bat suit!

    Sorry to go off on a tangent there. But, my point is is that Batman has always been a big deal to us. But, don’t let the things you read about in the paper and see on the news bother you. Feel free to visit Gotham City anytime! It’s a great place to site see and you might even run into Batman himself!

    Your friend,
    Commissioner Gordon

  23. Are they suggesting you run your night lite 24/7 all year round? Even in the daytime?

  24. Add my name to the list of those of us who loved Batman Returns. Keaton was fantastic, but I was madly in love with Michelle Pfeiffer at age 14 or 15 when I saw it in theaters. Anyone else remember the McDonald’s large plastic cup tie ins for that movie? With the different scenes on the cups and different Bat Disc lids that doubled as mini Frisbees? After seeing the movie the first day, I had my father and brother drive me all over the place to different McDonald’s so that I could find every single cup, and I had to have them that day, there was no continuing of the quest on the next day, oh no, it was now, or listen to me whine forever. Thankfully for them, after a couple hours of driving, I had something like 16 cups, all the lids, and a severe need to pee.

  25. Oh my god, before I read anything but the post title, I thought, “Ha, and were the chips shaped like the bat logo?”, but dismissed the idea because what sorcery in 1992 would have allowed one to do that right?

    My mind has been blown. Even by 2013 standards, such elaborately shaped tortilla chips amaze me. I want to hang these on stuff. They’re that rad.

  26. I’m not a “Batman” fan. Never have been, never was. The Burton films didn’t change my mind. They were too violent for me as a kid, and are a tad too strange for me now.

    That said, even I think these are pretty darn cool tortilla chips. I think I have vague memories of seeing them back in 1992, but I don’t believe my family ever had them. I just love how they managed to get the Bat-shape so perfect.

  27. I don’t remember these, but I’d attribute that to the absolute market saturation of Batman product, or Baturation, if you will, during that time era. Batman was everywhere, on every kind of product. I do think that eating batsignal shaped tortilla chips is something that one would remember all their life, though.

  28. Hey, Matt!
    Just getting into your new site, and so far I dig it! The same old X-E content in a newer, sleeker, better-organized package.

    Nice to hear of someone else who likes Batman Returns. It’s my favourite live-action Batman movie. I recently had the pleasure of seeing some of the costumes and props from the movie on display at Hollywood Casino.

    Never knew about these chips though.

  29. Hey Tetsu! Thanks for dropping in, and thanks! :)

  30. Wow, I have absolutely no recollection of these and I’m guessing they weren’t around in my little area of Southwest Missouri or I’d have been all over them.

    BatConfession time: Who else remembers the craze (mostly around the time of the first movie as I recall it) where kids would get the Bat-logo shaved into the back of their heads? And am I the only idiot here who did it?

  31. Wow, I don’t remember these at all, but I wish I had!

    And the shapes! No reservations here, I’d definitely chomp down on the full symbols foremost. I’d feel like it was my duty to eat these, for justice! Because if we don’t support the Dark Knight by eating his own personal brand of Batsnacks, then evil wins!

  32. I would have been all over these, but oddly enough I don’t remember them at all. They must have gotten lost in the shuffle of the marketing blitz of Batmania. Batman is my biggest obsession in life. Anyone who knows me at all knows that what Trekkies are to Star Trek, I am to Batman.

    While I love Batman Returns, the first one has always been and always will be my favorite movie of all time and I can quote just about every line of dialogue in it. I even have it playing in the background at work sometimes as I’m working. Just my own little secret that no one in the office needs to know about. It’s not a movie. It’s a training video for when I get those billions and can finally afford to start my crusade against villainy.

    So of course, I remember the Batmania of the late 80′s and early 90′s. My family used to go to Myrtle Beach every summer and the summer the first movie hit, it was absolutely saturated with all things Batman. You couldn’t sling a dead cat without hitting a t-shirt or poster or mug or the back of someone’s head containing the bat-symbol. It was glorious. And I can say with complete truth that it cemented Michael Keaton’s place as my favorite actor of all time.

  33. Oh, Batmania 2.0, why did you ever have to end? (Batmania 1.0 happened during Adam West’s rule)

    Sure, there was a bit of a Batmania 3.0 in ’08 (Batman vs. Joker on the big screen is something people will always go crazy over), but nothing quite on this level. I don’t remember having these nachos, but I ate the Batman movie cereal religiously for as long as it was available, and I still have a cherished Batman piggy bank that came with the cereal for a limited time.

    I can’t really call Batman Returns my favorite Batman movie, but it’s definitely my favorite of the 90′s series. Everyone in that movie was on top of their game, plus, it’s a Batman movie with a Christmas theme! The first one wasn’t quite as special because they had Tim Burton on a leash. If he’d had his way with the first, he would have given us grunge Joker 20 years earlier! Seriously, he did sketches of his ideas for Mr. J and some of them look extremely similar to what we eventually got with Heath Ledger’s Joker. It’s a pity that they didn’t let him make a third one.

  34. I love the original Batman, and I was unnaturally obsessed with Jack’s Joker for a very long time. Still one of my favorite characters from any movie.

    But for me, the movie has definitely aged, where Batman Returns *still* seems ahead of the time. I consider it Burton’s biggest triumph in some ways, because he had no “right” or “reason” to make a film this dark and bizarre, but did it anyway, not to feed an image, but because that was who he was. (And yes I realize how incredibly alone I will be in calling it his biggest triumph.)

  35. Totally agree that Returns was the best movie. ’89 hasn’t dated too well but Returns is set in such an oddball universe it holds up a bit better. The Schumacher ones are just garbage, but that goes without saying.

  36. I stand proudly in my opinion that Batman is superior to Batman Returns, even if by a narrow margin. I respect and understand your opinions, but disagree whole heartedly.

    “Never rub another man’s rhubarb.”

  37. The only thing I didn’t understand about “Batman Returns” is how Batman gets back in everyone’s good graces at the end.

    Everyone sees him “throwing” that girl to her death, (even though he was obviously framed), and nowhere during the rest of the movie does he try to prove his innocence. The “harp from hell” sequence only discredits the Penguin as a mayoral candidate & not that he set up Batman. Yes Batman saves the city & all the first born but try telling that to that poor girl’s family to console them.

  38. I have to agree. Batman Returns is easily my favorite Batman movie and in the top 3 for favorite Super Hero movies.
    In addition, I definately like this older logo much more than the new triangles with a triangle on it logo and would be honored to eat a few of them made with a hint of lime under the comfortable glow of another.
    Also, the Batmobile. The new Batmobile looks stupid.

  39. Whoa man, that nightlight just struck some deep down nostalgia string. Something I completely forgot about until just now. I can’t place it, but I think one of my cousins or friends had one. That soft glow is mesmerizing. Thanks for sharing!

    Strangely, don’t remember the chips at all.

  40. I too remember the Batman craze but want to add in here that I don’t remember seeing those chips at all in the Washington, DC area either.

  41. I don’t remember these chips, either, but I would have been all over them back when the ’89 movie came out (and I agree with Deej that Batman is superior to Batman Returns). I remember a time in 1989/90 when my entire wardrobe seemed to consist of Batman shirts.

  42. I still have a box of these unopened. Not just a loose bag or 2. But a sealed box. I think it contains a dozen bags. Wonder what this would sell for on e-bay? Love the site Matt!

  43. these were featured on an episode of that toy hunter / toy collector (whatever it’s called) show that comes on the travel channel.

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