As consumers, we make choices every day. At the grocery store, food decisions can evolve around dietary restrictions, packaging, convenience, preferences and the environment. One snack brand tries to bring that all together with the newly-released 12 Tides puffed kelp chips.

Available in three flavors, the chips are USDA-certified organic and non-GMO. Kelp is put through a testing process to ensure all growing and processing meet organic standards. The chips are gluten-free, baked instead of fried and contain no added sugar. They are also vegan in the sense they contain no animal products. However, they are produced in a facility shared by brands that use eggs, dairy, meat and other products, so measure your own needs here.

Related: Surprising ways seaweed benefits the environment

Flavors include sea salt, everything and chili pepper, each of which are packaged in bags that are compostable through industrial facilities where the service is offered. The company is currently looking to further reduce packaging waste with the development of a zero-waste option.

Three chip bags on the beach with ocean in view

The mission to kelp

The company launched after founder Pat was tired of feeling helpless as he witnessed the effects of overfishing, coastal destruction and pollution. Working in the industry, he knew what to look for in regenerative farming practices he could feel good about, and 12 Tides was born. 12 Tides is on a mission to provide nutrient-rich snacking with attention to the full product cycle. Inasmuch, it’s earned certification as a B-corp, which means it’s shown its commitment to upholding environmental and social standards.

The kelp is sourced from small, independent aquaculture farms in Maine and the company is based out of San Francisco. 12 Tides emphasizes the benefits of kelp saying, “Kelp is the superhero of the ocean. It removes carbon from the atmosphere 20 times more efficiently than land crops, and it’s low maintenance — what we call “zero input” — requiring no fertilizers, no pesticides, no arable land, and no freshwater to grow. All that, and it’s delicious.”

In order to be responsible stewards of the land and ocean, 12 Tides gives back 1% of profits to benefit programs restoring kelp forests in California. These programs aim to reverse the imbalance in the ocean as the purple sea urchin population explodes, consuming helpful kelp in the process. Restoring the balance in the ecosystem means encouraging kelp to thrive, where it supports marine animals, improves the water quality, and repairs nutrient instability. The restoration efforts are done through a partnership with non-profit SeaTrees and the Bay Foundation.

“The truth is our snacks are nothing without the ocean. We’re ocean activists at heart. With 12 Tides, we’re turning the tides on climate change, one kelp chip at a time.” 

12 Tides Kelp chips can be found on Amazon, the 12 Tides website, and a variety of local sellers in the Bay Area.  

Kelp chip bag with a 12 Tides tote bag

Review of 12 Tides Kelp Chips

The company offered to send samples to try. A few days later I received six full-size bags — two of each available flavor. My family of five each sampled the flavors and provided feedback.

I’d like to start by saying the shipping package was very environmentally friendly. The bags were all intact with no crushed chips even though they were simply packaged in recyclable materials–a cardboard box and protected inside with crumpled brown paper. 

Sea Salt

The first bag we opened was sea salt. I expected it to be my favorite, but I found it had a bit of an oily taste for my preferences. This was my husband’s favorite, however. The saltiness was very discrete and, of the three flavors, this had the most predominant kelp flavor. 


Surprisingly to me, this was my favorite. The combination of flavors is balanced and not as overbearing as other “everything” products (such as bagels) often are. I also felt the texture absorbed the oily aspect I didn’t care for in the sea salt variety. I found myself happily munching on this bag. These were my husband’s least favorite, to both of our surprises, since it’s a flavor profile he typically loves. Two (young adult) kids rated these in the middle of the pack, above the sea salt but below the chili pepper.

Ocean in the background of a helf chip bag

Chili Pepper

The chili pepper flavor reminded me of pork skins. The flavors were also balanced. I liked the spiciness as a stark contrast to the relatively unflavored sea salt. Reactions to this flavor were varied. To say my young adults preferred these over the other two flavors is not an exaggeration. However, they weren’t huge fans of any of the options. In other words, while they found these to be flavorful, spicy and crunchy, I don’t think I’ve sold either of them on kelp chips as a preferred snack. My adult son couldn’t get on board with any of the three flavors. It’s just not his bag.

Let’s be real here, though. These are not the potato chips many people are used to, so it may take more than one exposure to appreciate the unique flavor. If you’re used to eating ocean products, though, the puffed texture and flavor profiles are much better than other products we’ve tried. My husband and I really enjoyed them for the most part and feel good about consuming the product from the perspective of a relatively healthy snack as well as a conscientious brand we’d like to support.

+ 12 Tides

Images via 12 Tides and Dawn Hammon