The chef and the radio DJ were down in the basement of Adams Morgan’s Smoke & Barrel, drinking whiskey and beers past midnight. Wouldn’t it be hilarious, they joked, to make vegan pork rinds? Wait a minute—wouldn’t that actually be kind of cool?
Logan McGear, who oversees the kitchen of the barbecue joint, and Samy Kobrosly, a former cohost of Hot 99.5’s The Kane Show, were always up to shenanigans in this subterranean bar, and the dubious-sounding meatless chicharróns could have been just another stunt. But the duo spent several months honing a recipe that includes mushrooms, yuca, and onions. The magic is that the soy-ginger- and barbecue-flavored “veggie crisps” they call Snacklins really do taste like pork cracklins.
Could this be DC’s next breakout food? Bags now line the shelves of Mid-Atlantic Whole Foods stores, Yes! Organic Markets, and other grocers. This spring, they’ll expand from 100 stores to 1,000 nationwide. Kobrosly has quit his job to oversee the company. (McGear still runs things at Smoke & Barrel, plus Rosario, Meridian Pint, and Brookland Pint.)
With the national rollout, they’ll drop the price of a bag to $1.99 in order to better compete with Fritos and Doritos. They’re also rebranding the snacks to look less like a 60-calorie, gluten-free health food and more like a bag of chips you’d grab at a gas station.
“People always talk about how they want to eat healthy, but the fact is it’s really tough to throw that in people’s faces,” Kobrosly says. “We literally tried to make a healthy snack chip that looks like junk food.”
This article appeared in the April 2018 issue of Washingtonian.