This year, Do Us a Flavor is branching out to include some of their different varieties of chips. For Wasabi Ginger, we get Kettle Cooked. This seems like a random combination, but I’m okay with it.
Wasabi Ginger is the brainchild of Meneko Spigner McBeth, who may not win the contest but definitely wins “Best Finalist Name”. She’s a registered nurse in Philadelphia, so she can help you out if you choke on her Wasabi Ginger potato chips. Just a little Heimlich and you’re right as rain.
Meneko’s grandmother apparently used to make her sushi by hand when she was growing up, which both melts my heart a little and makes me extremely jealous. So now we know why she came up with this flavor.
Meneko’s fun fact is that her friends have dubbed her “The Clearance Queen” because she always finds the best bargains. This is what your fun fact is when you have three kids. This is what your life becomes. Also, I hope she doesn’t buy clearance sushi because that’s gross.
I’m not sure what the methodology was in deciding what flavor got what kind of chip, but kettle seems to suit Wasabi Ginger just fine. Lay’s kettle chips aren’t the best on the market, but they’re passable. Also, this doesn’t seem like a flavor made for dipping, so the sometimes-crumpled-up nature of the kettle chip won’t be a hindrance.
Wasabi Ginger was off to a good start when it hit my taste buds. The distinctive taste of wasabi was strong and spot-on. I’m using the term “wasabi” liberally, because when you eat sushi, the majority of the time you’re getting horseradish-wasabi, not actual wasabi.
Let’s just say that the wasabi you know was the wasabi that was represented in this chip. Strong enough to be delicious, but not so strong that my sinuses exploded.
I also detected a hint of soy sauce, which was a great compliment to the flavoring.
This all sounds like it’s going great, which it was, but then the ginger hit. Once again, we go back to Lay’s totally nailing the flavor, but it being a double-edged sword. After the lovely soft-burn of the wasabi, I was suddenly bestowed the flavor of those thin-sliced pieces of ginger that are served with sushi.
I did a quick Google search to verify that ginger is served as a palate-cleanser (answer: yes) and Wikipedia taught me that the actual term for it is gari, and this also reminded me of an important disclaimer:
Dear readers, I know that the definition of sushi, sushi-eating, and pretty much everything related to sushi are hotly debated. Please do not bring this debate here. We are talking about Lay’s potato chips. Give me some leeway.
Okay, got off on a tangent there. The point here is that I was perfectly happy enjoying my wasabi chips, and then the pickled ginger came along and made everything wonky. Ginger is refreshing, but “refreshing” is not really a quality I’m looking for in a potato chip.
While I was initially put off by this, I found myself continuing to eat Lay’s Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger Potato Chips. The wasabi and soy sauce combo was fantastic, and these would easily be a winner in my book if the ginger hadn’t come along. That said, it didn’t deter me enough to not finish the bag.
These chips really do a great job of emulating the whole sushi package. Chalk it up to umami, I guess? Honestly, this is one of the most unique Frito-Lay flavors I’ve tasted that doesn’t seem to be designed to be purposefully disgusting. If I had my druthers, these wouldn’t win the Do Us a Flavor contest, and then Lay’s would immediately turn around and come out with Kettle Cooked Wasabi Soy Sauce Potato Chips. Now that is something I would buy again.
Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Finalist: Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger Potato Chips
- Score: 3.5 out of 5 unwanted sushi debates
- Price: $1.49
- Size: 2 7/8 oz. bag
- Purchased at: 7-Eleven #21821
- Nutritional Quirk: The label claims it contains actual wasabi. Hm!