Lay’s has come out with four new flavors, and for once they’re not asking you to make agonizing decisions about what should stay and what should go. Instead, they’re running a contest called Passport to Flavor, where you can enter to win…I don’t know, trips to places and stuff. I’m just here for the chips.
Lay’s Wavy Greek Tzatziki
The first stamp on our flavor passports takes us to Greece. You can tell because there’s a pegasus on the bag! I feel like a pegasus belongs more on the bedroom wall of 11-year-old me than a bag of chips, but hey. There’s also a dove with an olive branch, in case you haven’t been hit over the head with mythology enough.
To finish up the theme, we also have the Parthenon, and a scroll, because…you know…scrolls. I like that Lay’s couldn’t think of anything from Greece that had come about in the last two millenia.
No matter when the Greeks invented it, tzatziki is a baller condiment. And I say that as a great lover of condiments. I never would have thought that I’d be a fan of putting yogurt on meat, but no gyro is complete without the stuff.
The back of the bag has a little blurb that says, “When the Greeks mixed dill, garlic, and other unique spices to yogurt, Tzatziki became a Mediterranean classic! There’s no doubt this creamy flavor will have you saying ‘OPA!’”
I’ve heard people say “OPA!” before, but I was never quite sure what it meant, so I decided to look it up. According to one website, “The actual meaning of “Opa!” is more like “Oops” or “Whoops!” Among Greeks, you might hear it after someone bumps into something or drops or breaks an object.”
The idea of Lay’s telling me that I’ll be saying “Whoops, stubbed my toe eating tzatziki-flavored potato chips!” just tickles me.
What also tickles me is the flavor of these chips. They’re like Sour Cream & Onion’s hairier cousin. It’s simple, but it works: the base flavor of creamy, tangy yogurt, with highlights of bright dill and even a bit of refreshing cucumber. It’s that simple, and it’s spot-on tzatziki. If you like the flavor of this Greek dressing, then you’ll like these Lay’s.
It’s also worth noting that one of the ingredients is “tzatziki seasoning”, which contains natural dill, cucumber, and yogurt flavor, although I’m not entirely sure what natural yogurt flavor means. Powdered yogurt?
Chinese Szechuan Chicken
Our next stop is China. Your flight was 12 hours long; it totally sucked, but at least you had the aisle seat.
Lay’s has represented China with bamboo, a pagoda, a traditional Chinese dragon and one of those paper lanterns that I associate more with a trip to Party City than China itself.
The poor Szechuan chicken on the bag doesn’t even get the dignity of being placed on a plate; it’s just represented in a take-out box, delivered to a young couple in love who just got their first studio apartment, eaten while they sit on the bare floor and make Goo Goo Gai Pan eyes at each other.
“The regional Sichuan pepper is where takeout favorite Szechuan Chicken gets its name. Why wait for delivery – we’ve got the tongue-tingling sensation of ‘málà’ right here!”
It seems like the theme for Lay’s Passport to Flavor is to use one foreign word per cringingly caps lock-filled blurb on the back of their bags. I’d never heard of málà before, so I looked it up, and apparently it’s a “popular oily, spicy, and numbing Chinese sauce which consists of Sichuanese peppercorn, chili pepper and various spices simmered with oil.”
“The term málà is a combination of two Chinese characters: “numbing” (麻) and “spicy (hot)” (辣), referring to the feeling in the mouth after eating the sauce. The numbness is caused by Sichuan pepper, which contains 3% hydroxy-alpha-sanshool,” Wikipedia goes on to educate me, combining etymology and science into one compressed lesson.
I’ve had Chinese food many times, but I’ve never had Szechuan chicken. I was worried that this would impact my ability, but luckily (maybe?) Lay’s seemed to have me covered, seizing my taste buds with chopstick-like precision. I don’t know what that means.
My first chip flooded my mouth with chicken bullion flavor, but was quickly followed up with strong notes of soy sauce, peppers (both with flavor and heat) and then a hint of something bizarrely nostril-clearing. Wasabi? Horseradish?
This seemed out of character with the flavors of Szechuan chicken, but maybe it was the málà at play? Very curious indeed.
Some of the ingredients listed include actual roasted Szechuan peppers and “natural Szechuan wok type flavor”, which is a mysterious phrase for an ingredient. Gotta love that natural wok (type) flavor.
All of these flavors complemented each other nicely and created a complex mélange that would be delicious as part of a Chinese meal, but doesn’t make for a very snackable potato chip. It’s just too rich and intense to eat more than a few chips at a time.
Lay’s Passport to Flavor Wavy Greek Tzatziki and Chinese Szechuan Chicken
- Score (Wavy Greek Tzatziki): 4 out of 5 awesome pegasi
- Score (Chinese Szechuan Chicken): 3 out of 5 wok type flavors
- Price: $5.98 (for an embarrassingly large multipack of 20 bags of Lay’s)
- Size: 1 oz. bag
- Purchased at: Walmart
- Nutritional Quirk: The Chinese Szechuan Chicken flavor contains THREE different chicken ingredients! (Broth, powder and fat)