We're a nation of hot chip lovers - but punters at some of our most popular eateries are fast learning the saying "cheap as chips" doesn't quite ring true.
Kiwis eat around 7 million servings of hot chips a week. But an unscientific survey of some of Auckland's top eateries found prices ranged from $4.50 for an eat-in portion of chips at Mission Bay's Fish Pot Cafe, up to $12 at The Grill by Sean Connelly at SkyCity (cooked, admittedly in duck fat) and Molten in Mt Eden.
Sven Nielsen, owner of Molten, said punters were happy to shell out $12 because of the effort that goes into cooking them. The chips are thick-cut, triple-cooked and served with black truffle aioli and malt vinegar.
"I would be hung, drawn and quartered if we ever stopped serving them."
Eric Sivado, acting manager at Odettes Eatery, said his $11 price tag reflected the chips' quality.
"Our chips are hand-cut and come with a home-made aioli sauce with berbere spice and curry leaves," he said.
The Grill by Sean Connelly had no comment.
One of the best-value chips in Auckland can be found at popular seafood restaurant Swashbucklers, near Westhaven Marina. A huge bowl of fries will set diners back just $6.
Manager Mark Avery said the good-old fashioned hot chip was part of Kiwi culture and prices shouldn't be over the top for something that costs very little to make.
"The old saying cheap as chips means they should be cheap," he said. "We want to give our customers exactly what they want."
The Chip Group - an organisation made up of growers, chip manufacturers and oil suppliers - said prices for a serving of chips were on the rise.
For several years operators of restaurants and takeaway bars had soaked up rising production costs. But those costs were now being handed on to punters.
Other price rises were down to kitchens using better quality, but more expensive, cooking oils.
• Lumsden, Newmarket: $8
• Molten, Mt Eden: $12
• Matterhorn, Freemans Bay: $10
• Odettes Eatery, CBD: $11
• The Grill by Sean Connolly SkyCity: $12
• Fish Pot Cafe, Mission Bay: $4.50 (takeaway: $2.60)
• Swashbucklers, Westhaven: $6
• Eden Park: $4.50