Tag Archives: Lay’s

Lay’s Passport to Flavor Kettle Cooked Indian Tikka Masala and Brazilian Picanha Potato Chips

lays-passport-to-flavor-kettle-cooked-indian-tikka-masala-and-brazilian-picanha-bagsHere we have the last half of the Passport to Flavor varieties. I’m pretty excited about these last two flavors, as they represent some of my favorite flavors. Without further ado, let’s dive in!

Kettle Cooked Indian Tikka Masala

Previously we traveled from Greece to China; now we’re heading off to India. The flight from China to India is only four and a half hours – that’s less than it takes to cross the United States!

Lay’s calls it Indian Tikka Masala, but this dish purportedly originated in Glasgow and is actually a British national dish. In case you weren’t aware, Indian food is insanely popular in the UK.

The pictures Lay’s uses to symbolize India are a lotus flower, an elephant with a fancy…riding thing on its back, something that I’m pretty sure is supposed to be a mandala, and the Taj Mahal. If they were being fair, it would have British things on it, like…rain, and, I don’t know, a TARDIS? Just a big picture of Morrisey on the bag.

Our back-bag blurb for this one says, “Packed with flavorful spices like turmeric and cumin, the tomato-based dish Tikka Masala is a fixture in global cuisine. Open this flavor and bring some khushee to your day!”

I love that Lay’s is trying to teach us foreign languages, one potato chip bag at a time. Here we have the Hindi word khushee, which I learned means joy or happiness! Or picnic. Picnic was also listed as a defintion.

I barely got the bag open before my nose was assaulted with the smell of curry spices. Oh, what a delightful odor!

lays-passport-to-flavor-kettle-cooked-indian-tikka-masala

The chips are an appropriately bright shade of orange, considering that real Tikka Masala is often so violently colored that it looks like it’s going to commit federal crimes on your digestive system.

Unlike the Chinese Szechuan Chicken flavor of Lay’s, the chicken flavor wasn’t super prominent in Indian Tikka Masala. Instead, you’re punched in the mouth with the flavors of tomato, turmeric and cumin, along with a level of heat that is not shabby.

Lay’s definitely captured the essential flavors of Tikka Masala, but managed to do it in a way that isn’t so heavy that you can only eat a few at a time. These are totally munchable, especially if you like your chips with a little bit of a kick. Warning: you’ll definitely crave some solid curry after eating some of these.

Brazilian Picanha

From India we go to Brazil, our final destination. The flight was 19 hours; at this point, you want to kill yourself, but the flight is mostly empty so you get an entire row to yourself so you can lay down. Score! But the only in-flight movie available is Gigli. You win some, you lose some.

Brazil is represented by a sun, a parrot, a soccer- sorry, football, and a palm tree. Damn, I feel like Lay’s really phoned it in for Brazil. Which is especially insulting since these chips came out around the same time as the Olympics.

I’ve never had picanha, but it sounds amazing. There’s a Brazilian steakhouse near me called Fogo de Chão, where people just walk around with giant slabs of meat and cut it off for you right at your table. This sounds like the most amazing thing in the world to me.

Lay’s has a trick up its sleeve with this flavor: in teeny-tiny print under the chip name, it says “Steak & Chimichurri Sauce”.

So maybe I’ve never had proper picanha. But I’ve had the shit out of some chimichurri sauce. It’s like pesto’s Argentinian cousin, except made with parsley and oregano. It’s so, so good. I just got at least 80% more excited about these chips.

Now let’s learn something from Lay’s: “Picanha, the finest cut of Brazilian steak, is skewer-grilled with coarse salt to lock in flavor. Mix in the bright flavors of chimichurri sauce & you’ll be saying ‘mais, por favor!’”

I didn’t have to look this one up, because I have a rudimentary knowledge of Spanish and there’s some overlap into Portuguese, so this obviously means “more, please!” Much easier to understand than the picnic word.

lays-passport-to-flavor-brazilian-picanha

Might as well lay it out there: Brazilian Picanha potato chips taste like actual grilled steak and what dark goddamn magic is Lay’s hiding in their flavor laboratory?

These chips are goddamn delicious. My problem lies with the chimichurri flavor, though. Maybe it’s just my experience, but I was hoping for a stronger presence with more kick. Instead, it was more laid back, throwing some garlic and a little herbiness in with the predominant steak flavoring.

That said, the ingredients list does include everything in chimichurri, even extra virgin olive oil. Once I adjusted my expectations, I found out I liked Brazilian Picanha even more. The steak is the real flavor here, and it shines in all of its unnaturally realistic glory.

These were two solid flavors from Lay’s and a great way to end our Passport to Flavor trip. I hope you had a great trip!

Lay’s Passport to Flavor Kettle Cooked Indian Tikka Masala and Brazilian Picanha Potato Chips

  • Score (Kettle Cooked Indian Tikka Masala): 4 out of 5 digestive federal crimes
  • Score (Brazilian Picanha): 4.5 out of 5 men walking around with meat slabs
  • Price: $5.98 (for an embarrassingly large multipack of 20 bags of Lay’s)
  • Size: 1 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Walmart
  • Nutritional Quirk: Along with beef fat, Brazilian Picanha also contains “beef extract”. Perhaps we’re better off not knowing what that is.

 

Lay’s Passport to Flavor Wavy Greek Tzatziki and Chinese Szechuan Chicken

lays-passport-to-flavor-wavy-greek-tzatziki-and-chinese-szechuan-chicken-bagsLay’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

lays-passport-to-flavor-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

lays-passport-to-flavor-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)

 

 

 

Lay’s Flavor Swap: Honey Barbecue vs. Korean Barbecue and Flamin’ Hot vs. Fiery Roasted Habanero

Lay's Flavor Swap Honey Barbecue vs. Korean Barbecue BagsLay's Flavor Swap Flamin' Hot vs. Fiery Roasted Habanero PackagesWelcome to part two of Lay’s Flavor Swap! Otherwise known as “I didn’t want to photograph and review eight bags of chips all at once”. You can read part one here.

Buying the chips gradually succeeded in not making me look like a crazy person, but failed in that my Safeway inexplicably stopped stocking some of the flavors. What the hell, Safeway?

This forced me to go to Walmart, which resulted in me buying this:

Lay's Flavor Swap Mix Bag

Which was nice, because I now have 20 small bags and not 4 more big bags, but also infuriating because I already bought 4 big bags. My kitchen cabinet looks like an actual grocery store chip aisle. Junk food review problems.

Brief rundown of the Flavor Swap concept: one flavor stays, the other disappears off shelves, based on Internet votes. One is an existing flavor and one is a new flavor. It’s a duel to the potato chip death. The streets will run red with flavor dust.

Honey Barbecue vs. Korean Barbecue

This one is particularly interesting to me, because I’ve never had Honey Barbecue Lay’s before. In fact, I’ve never even seen them on shelves. When I first heard of the Flavor Swap, I tried to use Frito-Lay’s “flavor locator” to find them, and there were none in a 50 mile radius, confirming that I wasn’t just blind.

So, before now, Honey Barbecue hasn’t existed in my area, which makes this more of a Flavor Addition than a Flavor Swap.

Lay's Flavor Swap Honey Barbecue

I gotta say, I wasn’t exactly wowed by my first Honey Barbecue experience. They basically taste exactly like regular Lay’s Barbecue, with just a touch of sweetness at the end.

I prefer my barbecue with more vinegar than sweetness, but that’s a personal preference. I’m sure for some people this is their go-to Lay’s flavor. At least I know I wasn’t really missing anything before this.

But how about its contender, Korean Barbecue?

Lay's Flavor Swap Korean Barbecue

As opposed to the ho-hum taste of Honey Barbecue, Lay’s Korean Barbecue punches you right in the face upon first bite. There are strong tastes of both ginger and soy sauce. It’s definitely a more savory flavor than the honey variety.

While there’s no taste of actual meat (thank you, Lay’s), there’s a definite sense of umami here. I’ll admit – I’ve never had Korean barbecue – but if the flavor of these chips were applied to some ribs, I would definitely enjoy them. Swap or not, this is a solid, unique and interesting potato chip flavor.

Verdict: Korean Barbecue, no question. Honey Barbecue tastes almost exactly like regular Lay’s Barbecue, and the Korean kind is vastly different not only as a Lay’s flavor but even up against other brands.

Flamin’ Hot vs. Fiery Hot Habanero

At this point, Flamin’ Hot is more of a…genre than a flavor. A category? Anyways, what I’m trying to say is that Frito-Lay has pretty much Flaminized every product they have. Off the top I can think of Lay’s (of course), Cheetos, Doritos, Funyuns, Takis, and I think even sunflower seeds.

Of them all, I have to say Flamin’ Hot Cheetos are my favorite, especially the con Limon variety. I’d never had Flamin’ Hot Lay’s before, simply because I never felt I needed to. There are much more enticing flavors out there.

Lay's Flavor Swap Flamin Hot

And I was right, because Flamin’ Hot Lay’s taste just like every other Flamin’ Hot snack, except less intense than Cheetos because the flavor dust isn’t as thick. It’s a one-trick pony – heat, but no distinct flavor to speak of, minus some hints of onion and tomato. Which is fine, if that’s what you’re looking for.

I was curious to see how Fiery Hot Habanero would stack up against Flamin’ Hot, since that flavor is so recognizable and yet so generic at the same time.

Lay's Flavor Swap Fiery Roasted Habanero

Right off the bat, I could see physical differences. Flamin’ Hot Lay’s sported the iconic Crayon-red flavor dust, whereas Habanero is a more organic orange hue with dark flecks, which somehow made it look more dangerous.

Fiery Roasted Habanero has a heat that’s slow on the taste buds but will hit you right in the back of the throat before it takes over your entire mouth. Most notably, there’s an actual fire-roasted flavor to these chips, as opposed to Flamin’ Hots’ generic heat.

The bag lists actual habanero peppers as an ingredient, and I’m inclined to believe them. Not only do these have a more authentic roasted pepper taste, but the spicy heat builds and stays far longer than Flamin’ Hot. The heat isn’t intolerable, but it might be too intense for some people, who probably shouldn’t be trying chips called “Fiery Roasted Habanero” in the first place.

Verdict: Fiery Roasted Habanero, hands down. Not only does it have that roasted pepper taste, but there’s also like, ten other Frito-Lay products to choose from that are Flamin’ Hot-flavored.

Lay’s Flavor Swap: Honey Barbecue vs. Korean Barbecue and Flamin’ Hot vs. Fiery Roasted Habanero

  • Score (Korean Barbecue): 4 out of 5 uses of “umami” to describe chips
  • Score (Fiery Roasted Habanero): 3.5 out of 5 not another Flamin’ Hots
  • Price: $6.98 (for bag of 20 1 oz. bags)
  • Size: 1 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Walmart
  • Nutritional Quirk: I wonder how many calories worth of Lay’s I have in my cupboard right now.

Lay’s Flavor Swap: Smoked Gouda & Chive vs. Cheddar & Sour Cream and Kettle Cooked Olive Oil & Herbs vs. Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper

Lay's Flavor Swap Smoked Gouda & Chive and Cheddar & Sour Cream PackagesLay's Flavor Swap Kettle Cooked Olive Oil & Herbs and Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper PackagesI feel like Lay’s Flavor Swap campaign was designed to make reviewers like myself buy a bunch of different Lay’s potato chips whether we want to or not. In fact, that would be true of the general populace – if you want to vote on which Lay’s flavor you’d like to keep, you basically have to buy all eight bags, or at least four if you’ve got the original flavors already memorized.

In between Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Contests and now Lay’s Flavor Swaps, 25% of my income and 75% of my cupboard space is going to Frito-Lay.

As I mentioned, there are four swaps comprising eight different flavors, four already-existing and four new. I’m covering two swaps in this post and the last two in an upcoming post.

Smoked Gouda & Chive vs. Cheddar & Sour Cream

Right off the bat, Lays’ is going and breaking my heart. I consider Cheddar & Sour Cream to be one of the most perfect potato chip flavor combos. I prefer the Ruffles version, but I’ll definitely reach for some Lay’s in a pinch.

Lay's Flavor Swap Cheddar & Sour Cream

It’s the perfect combination of sharp cheddar and tangy sour cream. Sure, it sounds simple, but that’s why it works. It hits your tongue with enthusiasm. To see such a classic go-to removed from store shelves would be a real blow.

Lay's Flavor Swap Smoked Gouda & Chive

Now, on to the newbie contender: Smoked Gouda & Chive. (I’m keeping the “pre-existing” flavors relatively brief because those are flavors that have been around for quite a few years now.)

In an interesting move, with this flavor they’ve swapped the sour cream with chive, when traditionally sour cream goes with chive in potato chips.

The traditional green flecks meant to represented chive on potato chips are obviously here from the start. Gouda isn’t bright orange like cheddar, so its flavor dust is pretty much invisible.

I gotta say, Smoked Gouda & Chive is pretty fantastic. The chive hit me first, and tasted exactly like the green stuff from Sour Cream & Chive Lay’s. For a split second, that was all I could taste, and I was about to raise my arms in victory for Cheddar & Sour Cream.

But then the Smoked Gouda hit my buds, and damn, it was a fine flavor. They really nailed that smoked cheese taste. I couldn’t have identified it as gouda specifically, but you could really taste that it was a smoked cheese, and as I started to eat more of the chips, the chives and smoked cheese struck a really nice balance.

Verdict: Damn you, Lay’s. Why you gotta make this so hard right off the bat? Okay, okay. I’m going with Smoked Gouda & Chive, but only if you promise me my Cheddar & Sour Cream Ruffles are safe.

Kettle Cooked Olive Oil & Herbs vs. Kettle Cooked Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper

Our original flavor here, Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper, is another favorite of mine. I can see how it would turn some people off, though. The pepper is not only pronounced on the chips but also as a flavor, which some people (pussies) might consider so strong as to be offputting.

Lay's Flavor Swap Kettle Cooked Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper

If you don’t have fresh peppercorns at home that you put in a mill and then crank over pretty much everything you eat, these chips probably come on too strong.

Plus, the sea salt makes them salty even for a potato chip, and it along with the pepper can abrade your mouth after too many chips. Again, stop being a pussy. These taste great.

As per tradition, you can see the little green flecks of herbs on the Olive Oil & Herbs chips. Those herbs are listed specifically as basil, oregano and thyme in the ingredients.

Lay's Flavor Swap Kettle Cooked Olive Oil & Herbs

The herbs really pop, specifically the basil and thyme. I feel like the olive oil added a depth of flavor, but that’s one of those bullshit sentences that really means “I think it was there but I can’t really tell you how it tasted.” INSIDER SECRETS!

There were also hints of onion and garlic powder, which don’t count as herbs, but rounded out the flavor profile nicely.

I liked the in-your-face herby flavor, but it felt like familiar territory. I reached into the depths of my swiss cheese brain and shook out the memory of reviewing Lay’s Kettle Cooked Creamy Mediterranean Herb Flavored Potato Chips.

Impressive job, memory! Olive Oil & Herbs taste remarkably similar to these chips that were introduced five years ago and have since gone to that farm upstate where all failed Frito-Lay flavors retire to. I assume they failed because they used the word “Creamy” in the name.

Even beyond these old chips, I still feel like the “herbs and powders” formula has been done before. Olive Oil & Herbs taste just fine, but they’re nothing new and exciting.

Verdict: I’m sticking with Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper. Those herbs just didn’t leave me with enough mouth abrasions.

I was gonna skip the usual round-up, but considering we have some new flavors here, I decided to throw it in. Also, look for the other two Flavor Swaps being reviewed soon on a Junk Food Betty near you!

Lay’s Flavor Swap: Smoked Gouda & Chive and Kettle Cooked Olive Oil & Herbs

  • Score (Smoked Gouda & Chive): 4.5 out of 5 “take my Cheddar & Sour Cream Ruffles out of my cold, dead hands”
  • Score (Kettle Cooked Olive Oil & Herbs): 3.5 out of 5 “been there, creamed that”s
  • Price: $2.50 each
  • Size: 8 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Safeway
  • Nutritional Quirk: Not really quirky. Feeling slightly off after eating so many chips.

Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Finalists 2015: New York Reuben, Southern Biscuits and Gravy, Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries, Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 BagsSo, apparently Lay’s is doing their Do Us a Flavor contest every year now, which is perfectly fine by me, minus the fact that I have to keep typing “Do Us a Flavor” which makes me want to murder the entire Frito-Lay marketing division. But as long as the weird flavors keep coming, I’ll keep buying them!

Are you curious about these four new 2015 finalists, but don’t want to spend $10+ and take up an entire shelf of your cupboard? Well, that’s why I’m here to break them down for you in one giant post. And poke a little fun at the people behind the flavors in the process, because that’s just how I roll.

New York Reuben

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 New York Reuben Picture

I gotta hand it to Lay’s, the photos of the actual food on the bags look goddamn delicious; so much so that I wanted to showcase each of them more closely. They almost look too delicious, in that, after staring at the bag, I wanted to eat the actual food and not just a chip pretending to be the food.

There was a method to the madness that was tasting all these flavors, but I can’t remember what it was. I ate so many potato chips. Regardless, I started with New York Reuben, an iconic sandwich served in delis. And if you live in New York, one particular deli. (Hint: it’s the one where Meg Ryan faked an orgasm.)

Let’s look at the man behind the flavor first:

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 New York Reuben Creator

Meet Jeff Solensky of DuBois, PA. Before you start ranting about how Jeff isn’t even from New York, please note that he grew up in Long Island. He buries this lead by starting off telling you he works in a restaurant. I feel like Jeff is being real defensive, here. “Hey, I work in a restaurant and I’m from New York, so I know what corned beef should taste like, motherfuckers.”

I shouldn’t put words in Jeff’s mouth, though. He looks like a very nice man.

A traditional reuben sandwich consists of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing on rye bread. Knowing this, I was expecting a tangy chip with cheese and maybe a faint, unsettling beef flavor.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 New York Reuben Chips

I got none of that. Well, that’s not entirely true. What I did get was an overabundance of rye. Rye! Out of all the core aspects of a reuben, it wasn’t the bread that I was expecting to dominate the flavor of the chip.

If I closed my eyes and imagined real hard, there was a teensy bit of twang that could resemble Russian dressing, or maybe an off-base version of kraut. But in the end, it’s all rye all the time. You know those addictive Gardetto’s Roasted Garlic Rye Chips? It was like eating a flimsy version of those, except with no garlic flavor at all. So I guess the best thing I can say about Lay’s New York Reuben is that they sure did nail rye bread, and that makes for just as boring of a chip as you’d imagine. You could say this flavor went a-rye.

Southern Biscuits and Gravy

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 Southern Biscuits and Gravy Picture

From the Northeast we now travel to the South! In case you didn’t quite catch on, this year’s DUaF has a regional flair to it. I had mixed feelings before opening this one – on the one hand, I sure do love a good plate of biscuits and gravy. On the other hand – sausage chips.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 Southern Biscuits and Gravy Creator

This flavor comes to us via Hailey Green of Noblesville, IN. Again, you might be wondering what the hell somebody from Indiana is doing talking about southern cooking, but, like Jeff, she has a good reason: her grandparents are from Tennessee, and her Nonnie makes some kickass biscuits and gravy. You know this shit is serious because she calls her grandma “Nonnie”.

Wait, I just looked it up and apparently “Nonnie” is Italian for “grandmother”. I thought it was some sort of Southern term of endearment. What the hell, Hailey?

After the disappointment of New York Reuben, I had cautious optimism about Southern Biscuits and Gravy. As I mentioned, I really like this food, so I hoped it would go well and not horribly wrong.

Upon opening the bag, my nostrils were filled with the smell of promise. These chips smelled exactly like country gravy. My mouth started watering.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 Southern Biscuits and Gravy Chips

And I gotta say, the taste did not disappoint. If it seems gross to describe the flavor of a potato chip as creamy, keep in mind that sour cream and onion is one of the most popular potato chip flavors out there.

Which is interesting, because while Southern Biscuits and Gravy totally tasted like country gravy while I was chewing, there was a little sour cream and onion taste afterward.

Admittedly, there wasn’t much of a biscuit flavor happening, but the creamy gravy flavor was definitely there, complete with a nice black pepper kick (you can see little black flecks on the chips). There’s even a hint of sausage, but not disturbingly so.

Lay’s often uses dark magic to make their chips taste like other foods, and this is one of those times. The little sour cream and onion at the end was not off-putting, nor was the hint of sausage. These chips nailed the Southern Biscuits and Gravy flavor without hitting that Uncanny Valley flavor that can sometimes happen with weird-flavored chips. I will definitely be finishing these.

Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries Picture

First off, I had no idea that truffle fries were a thing before I saw these Lay’s chips, and I grew up on the west coast. Not that that makes me an expert on all things culinary from that region, but I feel like I should at least know that these things exist. I guess I’m just not highfalutin enough.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries Creator

Luckily, Angie Fu of Irvine, CA knows all about them. Angie has a compulsion disorder to immediately order truffle fries any time she sees them on a menu, so it makes sense that she would submit this idea to Lay’s. “Please enable my crippling addiction to truffle fries by making them available in my pantry at all times,” she pleads, desperately wringing her hands.

In case you are in the dark as I was, truffle fries are french fries tossed with truffle oil and often topped with parmesan cheese, black pepper and parsley. Ingredients may vary, but this seems to be the most popular application.

And, in case you don’t know what truffle oil tastes like, which I also have never experienced, it apparently has a very earthy taste and aroma, akin to mushrooms. Which, believe it or not, I have tasted. So at least there’s that.

The first whiff was promising: cheesy, a little musky, and overall mouth-watering. Every year, Lay’s seems to follow the formula of two regular chips, one Wavy and one Kettle Cooked, and they chose Wavy for West Coast Truffle Fries, which I believe was a good choice, because truffle fries tend to be steak-cut and the thicker texture of Wavy Lay’s sort of emulates that.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries Chips

And that first smell was spot-on. The parmesan flavor was the most prominent, making for a great flavor that wasn’t just generically “cheesy” but actually tasted of parmesan.

As I chewed, the truffle came in. With a strong aromatic like that, it could easily overwhelm all the other flavors, but it came in subtle, adding that trademark earthiness of truffles. I could even taste (and see) the little flecks of parsley playing backup.

And the ingredients list reads just as exotic as the chips’ namesake: romano and parmesan cheeses, duck fat, and actual black truffle. If these chips taste authentic, that’s because they used authentic ingredients, which is probably why I enjoyed the hell out of this flavor.

I hope you’ve stocked your pantry, Angie.

Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro Picture

Next, we head to…Greektown, wherever that is.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro Creator

Oh, according to James Wagner of Wichita Falls, TX, it’s in Wichita Falls, TX. Or, more accurately, “there’s a great little Greek place in town”, which makes it qualify for Greektown.

You know, there’s more than one place near where I live that offer some pretty awesome gyros. Does that mean I also live in Greektown? Have you ever had a good gyro, and if so, does that mean you also live in Greektown? Perhaps with this flavor, Lay’s is sending us a message: “We’re all Greektown, America! We don’t need to fight over regional foods!”

Which kind of goes against the previous three flavors, but hey.

Just because We Are All Greektown doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve tried a gyro from your local Mediterranean joint, so I will help you out. A gyro is a magical thing, consisting of spiced lamb meat cooked on a giant vertical spit, onions, tzatziki sauce, onions and tomatoes. (And sometimes lettuce.) It’s all wrapped in a warm pita, and dammit just talking about it makes me want one right now.

Remember how I talked about the Uncanny Valley of junk food with Southern Biscuits and Gravy? Well, Lay’s used their dark magic again, and managed to make Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro taste exactly like everything I just described above. This time, however, they went too far, and they fell straight into the Valley.

When I first opened the bag, my nose was confused. Nothing really stood out, it was just a murky mess of odor that smelled like nothing I could accurately describe. This left me suspicious.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist 2015 Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro Chips

It also left me unprepared for what was to come when I put the first chip in my mouth. Kettle Cooked Lay’s seem to be the best at gripping flavor dust, and each Greektown Gyro chip was loaded with it. Unlike the murky smell, the flavor was very distinct.

First came the tzatziki sauce, that bright flavor of Greek yogurt, cucumber and dill. And then, tomatoes. As I delved further into the bag, onion joined the party, and last but certainly not least, the distinct flavor of gyro meat.

It was all there. A gyro in a chip. An amazing accomplishment, but unfortunately, also an unsettling one. I could only eat a few chips at a time before I had to put them away, my mouth confused, pleased, disturbed. Then I’d go back to them and get the same feeling.

So if you’ve been seriously hankering for all the wonderful elements of a gyro packed into one tiny chip, Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro is your thing. Just be ready for a serious flavor shock to your mouth.

Phew! Lotta words, right guys? But we got through all four of this year’s Do Us a Flavor finalists. What did we learn? First off, I will say that I’m thankful there were no fruit- or coffee-flavored entries this year. I also learned that New York Reuben skipped pretty much everything that makes a reuben a reuben and went straight to the rye bread, for some reason.

I learned that the junk food Uncanny Valley is a fine line, and Southern Biscuits and Gravy skirted that line to delicious success, while Kettle Cooked Greektown Gryo crossed that line, tasting too much like a gyro for my mouth to handle.

And finally, Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries taught me that I might actually want to try truffle fries in the future. This was easily the most snackable flavor out of the four, and used authentic ingredients to achieve that. I can see Truffle Fries winning this thing, and I’d gladly pick up another bag if it does (or before that, since I’m currently running on crumbs).

Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Finalists 2015

  • Score (New York Reuben): 1 out of 5 wry rye jokes
  • Score (Southern Biscuits and Gravy): 4 out of 5 Southern Nonnies
  • Score (Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries): 4.5 out of 5 truffle compulsion disorders
  • Score (Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro): 3 out of 5 Uncanny Valley chips
  • Price: $2.48 (each)
  • Size: 8 oz. bag (each)
  • Purchased at: walmart.com
  • Nutritional Quirk: While most of the ingredients lists said things like [name of flavor] seasoning, Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries included duck fat and black truffle. So fancy!

News: Lay’s Do Us a Flavor 2015 Finalists Are Here!

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalists 2015So I guess we’re doing this every year now, and that’s perfectly fine by me. Lay’s has announced 2015’s Do Us a Flavor finalists, and I am excited. Legit excited. This is my life, folks. Giddy about chips.

As before, we have four finalists to choose from. You can vote for your favorite flavor starting July 27th on their website.

Here are the four flavors. I currently don’t have any more information than their names, but as soon as I can get my hands on them, I will surely be sharing my opinions with you.

Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro

Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries

Southern Biscuits and Gravy

New York Reuben

Looks like we’re taking a little cross-country tour this year. But here’s what I’m most excited about – no fruits! No crazy coffee flavors! Just straight-up savory weirdness.

I am so ready.

Image courtesy Lay’s

Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Finalist: Wavy Mango Salsa Potato Chips

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Wavy Mango Salsa Potato Chips BagThis here is #3 of 4 in Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Finalists 2014. That’s not their numbering; it’s mine. As in, “this will probably be the third least delicious flavor”, or, alternatively, “this will be the third best contender for grossness”. I’m starting to confuse myself, so let’s just move on.

Wavy Mango Salsa comes to you courtesy of Julia Stanley-Metz, whose profile picture looks like she’d be perfectly at home shilling Flameless Candles on QVC. She’s an event planner and “avid yogi”, which always makes me think of Yogi Bear and not flexible people. Hey Boo-Boo! Let’s steal those Wavy Mango Chips from that pic-a-nic basket!

When not busy running from Ranger Smith, Julia enjoys cooking with her family, and credits many of her culinary creations to her husband, who “loves to experiment”. Oh, sorry, “loves to experiment with flavors”. Right.

The family partakes in Taco Tuesday, of which I approve, and her experiment-loving husband makes “the most amazing” mango salsa. So shouldn’t her husband be the one submitting this flavor? Perhaps he was too busy “experimenting”.

Julia’s fun fact is that she’s been to Madagascar while volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. This is by far the most interesting Flavor Finalist Fun Fact I’ve read so far, and it shows that Julia is a humanitarian. I see your ploy, Julia, trying to win the hearts and minds of America with your volunteer work. Well, it’s not going to work on me. I’m just here for the chips.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Wavy Mango Salsa Potato Chips

As mentioned, Mango Salsa got the Wavy treatment, which seems appropriate, since Wavy Lay’s are more dip-friendly than their regular, more fragile counterpart. Not that these were made specifically for dipping; it just seems to fit thematically.

When I first opened the bag, I smelled nothing but regular ol’ potato chips. I found this odd, seeing as how you’d think mango salsa chips would have an odor, like maybe mango, or salsa. Call me crazy.

But boy, how things changed with the first chip passed my lips. Here’s what my brain did upon first crunch: OH GOD MANGO SO MUCH MANGO JUST POTATOES AND MANGO

Seriously, there was a lot of mango.

In what is turning into a disturbing trend with Do Us a Flavors, Lay’s completely nailed the taste of mango, and I wish they wouldn’t have. The bright, tropical flavor of mango was right at the forefront, so much so that you could almost feel the flesh of the fruit itself.

After a few more chips, I started to taste hints of the salsa portion of mango salsa. They were very subtle, but I could detect some onion and garlic powder. These do not a salsa make, however. It felt like they were added as an afterthought.

Potatoes and mango, together at never should have been. I’ve had some real mango salsas that were pretty tasty, but Lay’s Wavy Mango Salsa Potato Chips did not accurately reflect the real thing. They nailed the mango, and then proceeded to hammer the shit out of it, but missed the mark on the salsa. If you think the idea of tropical fruit-flavored potato chips is appealing, then these may be right up your alley, but I’m putting these back in the pic-a-nic basket.

Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Finalist: Wavy Mango Salsa Potato Chips

  • Score: 1.5 out of 5 Boo-Boos
  • Price: $1.49
  • Size: 2 7/8 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: 7-Eleven #21821
  • Nutritional Quirk: 1 serving (1 ounce) of these chips contains 9 grams of fat, which is significantly less healthy than actual mango salsa.

Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Finalist: Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger Potato Chips

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger Potato Chips BagThis 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.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger Potato Chips

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!

Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Finalist: Cappuccino Potato Chips

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Cappuccino  Potato Chips BagLay’s is at it again with another “Do Us a Flavor” contest. The first one garnered a lot of attention, and the winner wound up being Cheesy Garlic Bread, which was surely better than Chicken & Waffles, but more boring than Sriracha, although those didn’t even taste like- you know what, not going to get into that again.

Here’s the thing, though – after the contest was over, they continued to sell all three of the flavors in stores. I feel like Lay’s betrayed us. How can I trust them again after that? What’s the point of a contest if all the flavors are just going to wind up on the shelves anyways?

Well, regardless, I feel it is my duty to cover this round of flavor finalists. This time there are four instead of three. I shall be covering all four, and I figured I shouldn’t bury the lead. So here we go, with cappuccino-flavored potato chips.

Cappuccino is, of course, is the crazywacky entry for Do Us a Flavor. There’s one in every batch. It’s the flavor that will never win, but that everyone will talk about for the weirdness factor.

I predict this will be the worst flavor, which is kind of like predicting the sky will be blue tomorrow morning. I bet it will also get a ton of votes, because people on the Internet are ridiculous, but I’m also sure this whole voting thing is rigged, so it doesn’t matter. Again: the Internet.

While we don’t get pictures or quotes on the bags this time, we get even more detail this year on the voting website.

Meet Chad Scott, a visiting lecturer at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Now you know exactly where to send your angry letters after eating his chips. What does he lecture on? I have no idea, but “creating awful chip flavors” seems the most obvious guess.

He apparently submitted this flavor because “cappuccino is his lifeblood”. I hope tasting his own chip creation does not turn him off of his lifeblood forever, because then he will die.

Each flavor finalist has a “fun fact”, and Chad’s is that he didn’t like his name as a youth so he introduced himself as Corey. This is more weird than fun, and raises many questions. Why Corey? Where did Corey come from? Was Corey more charismatic than Chad? Would Corey have taken a life path divergent from Chad, one that led him away from thinking cappuccino-flavored potato chips was a good idea? Maybe I should write a letter.

Okay, time to get to the chips. I guess. Do I have to, mom?

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Cappuccino  Potato Chips

Upon opening the bag, all I could smell was that familiar Lay’s potato chip odor. But I was not fooled. The flavor dust looked exactly as you’d expect – a brown, speckled dusting that spoke of things to come.

I’m a little confused as to whether or not I should praise Lay’s for this next statement. Cappuccino Potato Chips tasted exactly as they’re supposed to. It’s so ridiculously easy to describe: take a bag of regular Lay’s, sprinkle in one of those high-end instant coffees (something like Starbucks VIA comes to mind), and you’ve got these chips.

What makes this especially detrimental is that this isn’t straight coffee, so more than the flavor of that caffeinated beverage, you get prominent notes of milk and sickly sweet vanilla. These are not things that you want to taste on your salty potato chip.

So Lay’s nailed the flavor, but, as we’ve seen in the past, this is not always a good thing. Cappuccino is a great example of that. While they weren’t so bad that they made me gag, they were disgustingly sweet and I threw them away as soon as I’d nailed down the flavor profile, which was quickly.

Oh, by the way, Lay’s wants you to know very firmly that these potato chips do not contain caffeine. That’s a shame, because that would have been the only redeeming quality about these chips. Unless vanilla-milk-coffee-flavored chips are your thing. Which they shouldn’t be.

Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Finalist: Cappuccino Potato Chips

  • Score: 1 out of 5 mysterious visiting lectures
  • Price: $1.49
  • Size: 2 7/8 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: 7-Eleven #21821
  • Nutritional Quirk: No caffeine. Lame.

Lay’s Kettle Cooked Creamy Mediterranean Herb Flavored Potato Chips

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. 🙁