Tag Archives: contest

Do Us A Flavor 2015: The Unretching

ThumbnailLast year, I decided to write a review covering the Lays “Do Us a Flavor” contest, mostly out of boredom and because I hadn’t written anything for a while. I thought it would be something fun to do, although it turned out to involve a great deal of suffering through some truly awful and misguided attempts at new potato chip flavorings (I’m looking at you, Mango Salsa; I still can’t forget the taste of it).

I have decided to do this once more. Lays has released a slew of new potato chip flavors again and asked us to pick one. I have tried them all. Here is my take on the 2015 entries:

DoUsAFlavor2015

The first one I tried was the “Southern Biscuits & Gravy.” On opening the bag, the first thing one always gets is the smell. With these, the bouquet is very subtle and almost unnoticeable. As for it’s taste, the first impression I got was that it reminded me of the classic “Sour Cream & Onion.” But it doesn’t finish that way. The finishing taste is a hint of gravy. This one isn’t bad, but it’s not great either. The flavor is very subtle and not in-your-face like some of the other flavors. I could ultimately take or leave this one.

Second came the “New York Reuben” chips. Opening the bag reveals the distinct scent of pickles and is quite strong. As for the flavor, it is equally as strong but somewhat confused. It has that briny pickle taste but with a smokiness added to simulate savoriness. It actually does a decent job of trying mimic the taste of corned beef, although not perfectly. And that’s the problem. The taste of the potato chip itself seems to throw things off just enough that it come off more like someone tried to smoke a pickle. It’s as if the chip can’t decide whether to be pickle-flavored (and some of those are actually good) or barbeque-flavored. Still, I have to admit that it’s a decent attempt.

Third on the list were the “West Coast Truffle Fries,” which come in the wavy variety. The scent is very subtle, and isn’t much beyond a regular potato chip, and the taste is likewise very difficult to discern. It starts with a subtle herbiness, but finishes much heavier than it starts with. It’s as though the wavy chip flattened out and tried to coat my tongue. The taste is lasting, and doesn’t leave very quickly, even after I rinsed my mouth out. Ultimately, this one tastes the most like a regular potato chip, but it has a weird texture and aftertaste.

Finally, I came to the “Greektown Gyro,” which is of the kettle-cooked variety. The first impression is, as usual, the scent of the bag, and it does not leave a good impression, smelling like an old gym bag that hasn’t been cleaned out in years. As for the taste, the first thing that pops up is the gyro dressing, which isn’t a bad approximation. Next comes a slight taste of flour (for the pita bread) and a smokiness which is clearly supposed to simulate the lamb, although doesn’t manage to pull it off. Where the biggest problem comes in is with the kettle-cooking. It throws everything off and not only doesn’t make for an appropriate texture but also overpowers a lot of the other flavors in the chip. The flavor also doesn’t last, and after about three chips, I stopped tasting the flavoring at all.

Ultimately, while each one has its good and bad parts, the selections this year are far better than the chips last year, or at the very least none of them made me want to retch (seriously, who let that Mango Salsa chip pass testing and get out onto the street?). If I have to pick a particular favorite, it would be the “New York Reuben.” While not perfect, I can definitely tell what they’re going for. Plus, I have a soft spot for New York deli food and pickled foods in general, so I’m not exactly unbiased. With much better selections this year, maybe next year Lays will have flavors that are actually good.

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Bet You Can’t Eat More than One

WritingI had originally planned on making a vlog about this, but I need to figure out a better way to do that because my camera software was giving me really cruddy quality, so much so that it would have been embarrassing to post something that bad. So instead I’m writing up my opinions. It’s not as fun, especially since you don’t get to hear me loudly swear after having one of those chips (guess which one), but we do what we must. Hopefully, I can later get the webcam working properly and do some more vlogging. Not abandon this blog at all, but rather supplement it.

Anyway, a little background: Last year, Lay’s potato chips ran a contest for new flavors with three choices. The winner was “Cheesy Garlic Bread,” which was okay but tasted too much like a lot of other chips on the market. Then again, that was probably why it won. It had the most universal appeal. The other choices were “Sriracha,” which was spicy but good (although I love Sriracha anyway) and…”Chicken & Waffles.” The Chicken & Waffles chips were vile on the first taste, but it was also probably because it was hard to anticipate what they would taste like. It was hard to tell. They were mostly sweet and salty, but in a weird way (definitely more sweet than salty, like they had been soaked in syrup). However, they quick fell prey to the Lay’s curse (“Bet you can’t eat just one”), and while they didn’t really get better, they became very addictive. One of the ingredients must have been crack.

This year, Lay’s is at it again, this time holding the contest with four contenders: “Bacon Mac & Cheese,” “Mango Salsa,” “Wasabi Ginger,” and “Cappuccino.” I got my hands on all of them, as seen below, and tried them in the above order, going from what seemed the most normal to the most bizarre.

Lays Chips

Now for a quick confession. I actually tried the Bacon Mac & Cheese chips a week ago at a friend’s house, so I already knew what they tasted like. And they taste fairly normal. They use the potato chip as the starch base (the Mac part of it) with the cheese flavor. What makes it different is that it has a bit of a smokey taste and just a hint of savory. Overall, it meets expectations and seems fairly normal. Basically this year’s Cheesy Garlic Bread.

Next came the Mango Salsa. Now, I’m not sure what I expected this to taste like. First, it only comes in the Wavy variety of Lay’s chips, so it’s a little thicker. After putting it in my mouth, I audibly cursed, to give this a G-rated phrasing. These chips are sweet. Way too sweet with a weird flavor that seems like they were trying to mimic the taste of mango salsa but failed miserably, overly sweet rotten tomatoes. It was like eating diabetic vomit. These chips need to be avoided at all costs.

Third on the list was Wasabi Ginger. This one only comes in the Kettle Cooked variety. I was confused about what to expect. This was basically a sushi restaurant chip, except that there’s one problem: To my understanding, you never eat the wasabi and the ginger together, or at least I never have. The wasabi flavors the food while the ginger cleanses your palate for the next bite. So seeing them together was odd. And it tastes just as weird. Not necessarily bad, but definitely weird. First, there is a definite wasabi taste, although it doesn’t have the spiciness that I would typcially associate with wasabi (which I should have been able to tell because, on opening the bag, I was not hit in the face by a pungent aroma as I expected; in fact, the bouquet was very subdued), although I should note that my wife disagrees with me about the spiciness. Where it getting very confusing is the ginger. Ginger tends to have a bit of a kick to it, but in this case it’s just sweet. So altogether, this chip is like a sweetened wasabi that’s been sitting out too long and has lost its potency. Ultimately, it did not meet my expectation, and I was rather disappointed. A weird and unique flavor, to be sure, but a bit of a letdown.

Finally came Cappuccino, one that I had no expectations for because, well, how does one get a potato chip to taste like cappuccino? To their credit, they actually did. It tastes like a sweet cappuccino with the taste very reminiscent of the foam on top. Unfortunately, it has two problems. The first is that it’s too sweet for my tastes. The second is that the cappuccino taste is immediately followed by the potato chip taste which doesn’t mix well. It’s a flavor that’s too confused about its own identity to be good. Admittedly, it’s not as bad as I was expecting, but it still has major problems.

So, to sum up, from best to worst I rank them as Bacon Mac & Cheese, Wasabi Ginger, Cappuccino, and Mango Salsa. And the Bacon Mac & Cheese still seems to hover around average as far as potato chip flavors are concerned. Excessive sweetness seems to be a common theme with the other flavors.

Kind of a disappointing year for chip flavors, come to think of it.

Update: My niece and nephew tried them and had similar reactions. In fact, my niece had to run to the trash can and spit out the Mango Salsa chip. Yeah, they’re pretty bad.