Video: Snack man finds success is in the bag

David L. Harris

If it’s a snack, Jeremy Selwyn has probably munched on it.

The 37-year-old Linnaean Street resident, a self-described snack expert, is the guy behind, a Consumer Reports-like Internet guide to every snack known to man.

Selwyn, a low-key software engineer by day, is not shy about his affinity for everything from chips to popcorn to cheese puffs. Selwyn and a group of former co-workers started the site eight years ago as a fun side project. But it soon turned into competition.

“We were trying to outdo each other with crazier and crazier chips that we could find,” he said. And then it became a race of sorts. “I had no idea that I would find 4,000 different ones.”

Since then, Selwyn has been quoted in everything from BusinessWeek and the New York Times to the Food Network and NPR.

The site, sporting the slogan “the crunchiest site on the Interweb,” now receives hundreds of thousands of hits a month from curious snackers. Selwyn, the Web site’s “chief snacks officer” and his friend, Keith Shaw (the “secretary of snacks”) have also started their own cable show called “The Snacking Hour,” which airs on CCTV.

On a recent trip to Shaw’s supermarket in Porter Square, Selwyn proved he could talk about snacks. A lot. There are very few chips or pretzels that Selwyn hasn’t tried. He generally prefers more gourmet products, such as the Cape Cod brand, made in Hyannis, or crispy Kettle potato chips. He also knows where to go: Porter Exchange’s Japanese markets for more exotic fare; Whole Foods for a full selection of his favorite Kettle chips; and Shaw’s in Porter for basics.

One important point: Selwyn encourages snackers to stay away from plain chips. Be adventurous, he said.

“But definitely if you’re gonna get chips, salt and vinegar’s good rather than plain chips. If you’re gonna get Lay’s — don’t get Lay’s — get one of the more interesting flavors. I found a bag of Lay’s once: crab spice flavor. It’s actually similar to one that Utz makes called the crab chip. For people looking for interesting snacks, don’t be afraid to try the crazy stuff.”

By far, the most popular snack featured on his Web site is Pirate’s Booty, the cheese puff-like snack that’s sold in local markets.

“Partly because it’s popular, but also probably because a lot of people are searching the Web for ‘booty,’ and they’re not looking for chips and that’s what comes up,” he said.

The weirdest snack he’s devoured? It’s a tie between squid-flavored chips and roast beef and mustard-flavored chips from the U.K.

“Around here, people wouldn’t stand for it,” said Selwyn. “They’re just too afraid to try new things.”

So what’s next for Selwyn? He’s started reviewing other items on his site, such as chocolate milk. More is inevitably to come. But for right now, he’s concentrating on his TV show. “We’ve done five episodes over a year and a half for the TV show. We’re going to try to make it more of a regular schedule. I occasionally get e-mails that say we’ve done something terrible or they don’t agree with something, but so far on the TV show, it’s been all positive.”