Lay’s recently introduced two new flavors to their Kettle Cooked line of potato chips. What a boring introductory sentence. They say the first sentence can make or break a novel. If you don’t hook your reader fast, you may have already lost them. So let’s try again.
In a move that rocked the world of snack food, Lay’s dropped a major bombshell in introducing two extraordinary new flavors to their already mind-shattering line of Kettle Cooked potato chips.
There, that’s better. The two (amazing!) flavors are Spicy Cayenne & Cheese and Creamy Mediterranean Herb. Spicy Cayenne & Cheese sounds kind of boring. Spicy and cheese, in chip form?! Alert the presses!
Creamy Mediterranean Herb, however…now that’s something unique. I was intrigued by these chips mostly for the addition of the word “creamy” in the product name. Creamy herbs? Creamy Mediterranean herbs? What the fuck is that? What does that even mean? I was already down with Mediterranean herbs; I love me some hummus, feta, olives, gyros, you name it. Mediterranean almost always gets a thumbs up in my book. Throw “creamy” out in front and you’ve definitely got my attention. I must know what creamy herbs taste like.
This would be the part where I actually tell you what the chips taste like, but that would make for a dangerously short review, and we can’t have that. Luckily, Snack Chat comes through once again with this little throwaway tidbit of information I spotted between a pair of parentheses: “(Fun fact: “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi and Frito-Lay executive chef Stephen Kalil cooked at the live billboard in Times Square today with Lay’s Kettle Cooked Creamy Mediterranean Herb.”
Oh really, Snack Chat. Sexyhot Padma McChefJudge cooking with the chips? What kind of craziness could this produce? No link was provided, but it didn’t take much Google-Fu to find a video of this event. The video is 15 minutes long and disappointingly boring, so I’ll just break it down for you.
As stated, Padma and Kalil are cooking two stories above the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square. Unfortunately, they are not cooking with chips. Basically, Padma panders to Frito-Lay, gushing about how amazing it is that they’re aiming to have half their products all-natural by the end of the year. Kalil then takes two “sweet and spicy” recipes out of Padma’s cookbook and combines them, an amazing culinary feat that causes Padma to make a foodgasm face upon tasting. The only interesting thing that happens in this video is when a giant fire truck goes by with sirens and horns blaring, forcing them to stop complimenting each other and stand around awkwardly for 30 seconds until the noise subsides.
Well, perhaps not the only interesting thing. Amongst all the fawning over Padma’s recipes and unexpected fire truck interruptions, they did manage to talk about the chips a bit. Kalil revealed a bit about the process of creating all-natural flavors, stating that they started creating the flavor of Creamy Mediterranean Herb with some goat cheese and “citrus herb”, which consisted of lemon zest, orange zest, and ground cardamom. They played around with different cheeses, finally settling on a mixture of marscapone, Boursin, and something else I couldn’t make out because the video skipped.
Padma, however, kept insisting they tasted like a “couture version of sour cream and onion”, which probably made Kalil fume and made her look like a dumbass after proclaiming earlier that she became a cook because she had such a sensitive palate. She also claimed that an associate and she “blew through a whole bag” one night, which I refuse to believe unless she also “blew chunks” afterwards. Bitch don’t stay skinny scarfing down half a bag of potato chips. I don’t care how all-natural they are.
In the end, the video wasn’t a complete waste of 15 minutes of my life. At the very least, I got a tiny glimpse into Frito-Lay’s test kitchen ways, and I learned that Boursin is a cheese, which I had never heard of before. It’s interesting that Kalil focused mainly on the cheese, since the name of the chips focuses on the herbs and doesn’t mention cheese at all. I guess that he can’t reveal all of their trade secrets. I respect his cheesy deflection.
I try to go into each of my reviews blind, having no knowledge of ingredients or other people’s opinions on the taste of a product, but after watching the video, I’ve obviously been tainted. At the very least, I can go into it seeing if I can detect the flavors described by Kalil. Or I can see if they taste like “couture sour cream and onion”. You’re lucky you’re so hot, Padma, because I kind of want to throw a hot bowl of some Top Chef contestant’s failed consummé with celery foam in your face right now. I could make your face match your arm. OHHH LOW BLOW
Before I wind up getting sued by Bravo for making assault threats, I should probably move on to the chips themselves. Here they are!
I’ve never had Lay’s Kettle chips before, but I have had Kettle brand kettle chips, and I was surprised at how small Lay’s version are by comparison. After some thought, I decided that’s actually a good thing – with smaller chips, the likelihood of having a piece of potato shrapnel lodge into your gums is reduced, which is always a good thing. And Lay’s Kettle Cooked had just the right amount of crunch, without being so thick you’re afraid you’re going to chip a tooth.
There were a lot of layers of flavor in Creamy Mediterranean Herb, but none of them managed to be overwhelming. The onion and garlic hit my taste buds first, and then the cheese kicks in. I was surprised by the flavor of the cheese – mainly, that it actually tasted like cheese, instead of neon-orange artificial cheese-flavored powder. It didn’t hit you over the head, but it made its presence known in a good way.
Strangely, I found myself thinking that these chips actually did taste creamy. Creamy chips sound gross, but it was the authenticity of the cheese flavor that made the impression. Well, you got me, Lay’s – you managed to make your chips taste creamy. Your product name actually makes sense.
But what about the Mediterranean herbs? The final layer took a little time to show itself, but I was grateful it did, because the lingering mixture of cheese, basil and oregano made my mouth happy well after I’d finished eating the chips. Basil and oregano definitely qualify as Mediterranean herbs, so our product name has come full circle. The back of the bag confirms this, saying, “Real basil and oregano come together with rich white cheddar to bring the savory taste of Mediterranean cuisine to these flavorful chips.”
Wait a second, here. White cheddar? What happened to the marscapone? The Boursin? The other cheese that I’ll never know because of a video glitch? Well, I guess that doesn’t matter now, because the ingredient list confirms that cheddar cheese is, indeed, the only cheese used to flavor these chips. What the fuck, Stephen Kalil? You filthy liar. Both marscapone and Boursin are creamy cheeses, which would make perfect sense in the context of these chips, but instead, I get white cheddar. I feel betrayed.
Despite my disappointment in finding out I’m eating white cheddar chips and not fancy Boursin chips, I really enjoyed Lay’s Kettle Cooked Creamy Mediterranean Herb Flavored Potato Chips. I liked the smaller size of the chip, thought the crunch was just right, and appreciated the layers of flavor that slowly unfolded over my palate instead of hitting me on the head. My one complaint (besides that liar Stephen Kalil) is that the onion and the garlic may have come on too strong in the beginning; I enjoyed their participation, but would have liked the basil and oregano to be stronger players up front. I have a feeling this bag of chips won’t last long; this isn’t one of those snacks that languish in my cupboard after a review until they’re stale and have to be thrown out. Fortunately, I don’t host a chef reality show on tv, so if I blow through the bag in one night, I won’t have to taste them a second time afterwards. (Sorry for being so hard on you Padma; you’re still sexyhot. Call me!)
- Score: 4 out of 5 awkwardly-timed fire engines
- Price: $2.49 (on sale; regular price $3.49)
- Size: 8 1/2 oz. bag
- Purchased at: Safeway #1717
- Nutritional Quirks: No marscapone. No Boursin. Just white cheddar. 🙁