The Untold Truth Of Pirate's Booty

When browsing the aisles of a local convenience mart or grocery store, you're sure to stumble upon all sorts of assorted bags of chips, popcorn, and cookies. If you've spent any time at all searching for munchies, you've likely seen the dark blue and cream colored packaging of Pirate's Booty. Inside each bag, you'll find small, but delicious cheesy puffs made of rice and corn of a color that lightly resembles the treasure one would imagine pirates buried beneath sandy beaches and waves. Understandably, it's a go-to snack for adults and kids alike.

This tasty treasure has become a staple in many households, and not just those with children to provide snacks for. This product seems to have a permanent spot on store shelves (and our own shelves!), and it has become just as popular as some of the leading pretzel and chip products.

While you know you're a fan of the puffs and that they're delicious, there may be a handful of other things about Pirate's Booty that you do not know. Without further ado, let us dig into some interesting facts about the beloved snack that may have been hiding beneath the sand. Here is the untold truth of Pirate's Booty.

The many flavors of Pirate's Booty

While many may be more familiar with the classic aged white cheddar flavor of Pirate's Booty, the brand has experimented with other seasonings. There was the ranch flavor, which was sold in the same cream colored packaging, but a lighter blue-green replaced the darker navy blue trim. Then there was veggie, which included half a cup of baked vegetables in every bag of Pirate's Booty, such as spinach and carrots. Ranch and veggie do not appear to be offered anymore, and are listed as unavailable on Amazon.

The Pirate's Booty brand also launched a series of products called Wild Tings, which gave the Pirate's Booty more of a stick-like shape than your standard puff. While a Pirate's Booty-ified take on a classic Cheeto sounds like a recipe for success, evidently, it didn't take: The Wild Tings line, which included a nacho version as well as sour cream and onion, seems to be a thing of the past.

While some of the brand's concoctions did not stick around for good, Pirate's Booty does still offer two other flavors besides the classic white cheddar: Cheddar Blast, which is made with more cheddar than the original, and Smart Puffs, which are branded as extra crunchy, and slightly larger corn puffs.

Is Pirate's Booty healthy?

When lined up next to snacks such as buttered microwave popcorn or Cheetos, Pirate's Booty seems to be a lot more of a "healthy" and light food. This likely also helped the snack gain popularity. On Amazon, Pirate's Booty has a 4.6/5 star rating, and many of the reviews are nothing short of glowing. Consumers love the lightness and low fat content of the snack, adore the "soft but slight crunch," and enjoy the fact that this treat doesn't leave as much of a mess as something like Cheetos.

Despite this, Pirate's Booty is by far from the most nutritious thing you can snack on. The first two listed ingredients are cornmeal and rice flour, closely followed by sunflower/canola oil and cheddar cheese. Canola oil is heavily processed, and while cheese is healthy, and even beneficial in moderation, it is high in fat, and too much of it isn't good for anyone. The company did attempt to offer healthier mixed berry and vegetable sticks, but like the previously discussed flavors, those no longer appear to be offered, leaving consumers with the more cheesy flavors. So while Pirate's Booty is certainly healthier than some items you might find in your pantry, don't assume that means it's the healthiest snack you can have during the day.

Pirate's Booty was accused of false advertising

One of the most appealing factors of snacks such as popcorn and rice cakes are that they aren't too high in fat. With this in mind, Pirate's Booty labels itself as containing only 3 grams of fat, putting it on par with light snacks such as crackers and snack bags of pretzels. However, in 2002, Good Housekeeping dug into the content of the rice and corn puffs and found that the snack contained more than what was on the nutrition label. The product was recalled, and the company landed in some hot legal water: Per the Los Angeles Times, an individual sued Pirate's Booty Company for $50 million due to the snack being labeled as a low fat food, when in reality, a bag could contain up to 8.5 grams of fat.

Per The Washington Post, manager of operations Andy Gertler said a factory error caused the Pirate's Booty to come out more puffy than before, resulting in a greater fat and calorie content in the snack. "We had a manufacturing problem," he explained. "We had to change the recipe a little bit."

Are there seeds in Pirate's Booty?

While Pirate's Booty is able to say it is totally free of gluten and nuts, the seed situation is an entirely different story. Some people are allergic to seeds like sunflower, pumpkin, poppy, and sesame, and it can be a problem when a food either has seeds in it or is produced in a factory that happens to deal with seed-related foods. Sometimes, it's quite easy to figure out if seeds are involved — especially when you're talking about a hamburger bun, a bagel, salad dressings, or even just a bag of seeds. In some cases though, it's difficult to know if a food contains or is made around sesame seeds.

Pirate's Booty generally doesn't contain any seeds. The official Pirate's Booty website maintains that their products are seedless, but note that some of their food is made in facilities that produce other foods that do contain seeds, including sesame. The website also states that the packaging of the Pirate's Booty has codes near the best by date if they have been processed in a facility where seeds are present: KP if produced where sesame products are made, and KF if in a facility where other seeds are present. More information can be found on the company's site.

Even the Pirate's Booty packaging is fun

Although Pirate's Booty is enjoyed by food fans of all ages, the product's branding is geared toward young children, with a cartoon pirate and as the snack's mascot — and a parrot named Crunchy as his sidekick. Parents will add bags of the puffs to their kids' lunches or drop them in backpacks for a midday treat. Hey, who wouldn't be stoked to take an afternoon break and tuck into a puffy, cheesy delicacy such as Pirate's Booty?

The fun does not stop at the delicious flavor. On the back of the Pirate Booty bags, one will find a searching game for one to do while they enjoy the puffs. These "Find the item" puzzles can also be pulled up on the snack's website, with seven different variations to solve. Furthermore, the website also has a tab where it offers how-to videos showing DIY crafts one can do while snacking, such as making toilet roll parrot, pirate, and telescope. Hey, kids and grownups alike enjoy getting into a word search or puzzle game every once in a while.

Pirate's Booty is nut-free, gluten-free, and kosher

Being a simple, cheesy delicacy, there are many attributes of Pirate's Booty that make it a favorable snack for many. A lot of crackers, granola bars, and cookies contain gluten, but Pirate's Booty is a gluten-free product, certified by the Gluten Free Certification Organization. Not unlike potato chips, this cheesy treat naturally does not contain any gluten, meaning that anyone with gluten allergies or trying to avoid gluten can safely consume this product.

Furthermore, if you're worried about peanut or tree nut allergies, Pirate's Booty should not be an issue. According to the company's webpage, not only is the product totally free of nuts, but the factories where the puffs are made don't make anything that contains nuts. (That said, the site offers an important disclaimer: "However, ingredients may change from time to time, so always check the label on a specific product for the most current ingredient and allergen information.") The brand is also kosher, meaning that the food conforms to the Jewish diet restrictions. While this product does contain cheese, Pirate's Booty has been Kosher Certified by the Orthodox Union (OU), making it alright for consumption.

Who created Pirate's Booty?

Pirate's Booty did not appear out of thin air one day. Rather, the product was created by Robert Ehrlich. In 1987, the American entrepreneur founded Pirate Brands, and has pursued creating organic snacks since its creation. In 2013, he sold Robert's American Gourmet Food — which included the Pirate's Booty brand — to B&G Foods, a company with a long brand list that includes Green Giant and Crisco.

Though no longer the owner of Pirate's Booty, Ehlrich considers himself an entrepreneur in all things related to organic snacks. After owning Pirate Brands, Ehlrich moved on to found Vegan Rob's with a goal of offering people a vegan, nutrition-focused line of snacks, such as puffs, with flavors like beet, spinach, and cheddar, and Dragon Crisps, a potato and sorghum based spicy chip. He also created Veganpop, a brand of plant-based popcorn that is offered in two different flavors. Despite not being in charge of Pirate's Booty anymore, it doesn't seem like Ehlrich is slowing down anytime soon.

Hershey's currently owns Pirate's Booty

Pirate's Booty product has changed hands several times. A few years after B&G scooped up Robert's American Gourmet Food for $195 million, a new owner entered the fray. And that new owner spent quite a pretty penny to add Pirate's Booty to their brand. In 2015, Hershey's bought Pirate Brands for $420 million, more than double the amount B&G initially purchased Pirate Booty, per CNN. Pirate Brands falls under the Amplify Snack Brands branch of the Hershey Company. 

This begs the question: Will we be getting chocolate-coated Pirate's Booty any time soon? While the combination of chocolate and cheese might be surprising to some, others will jump on the idea of having a rich, chocolate-drenched, cheesy rice corn puff. However, as it has been several years since Hershey's purchased Pirate Brands, along with one of the appeals of Pirate's Booty being that it a "healthier" snack option, it is unlikely that we will get chocolate Pirate's Booty soon — though that's not to say that it'll never happen. Who knows? Maybe Hershey's will eventually add another irresistible snack to the Pirate Brand in the future.