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FritoLay Blue, or May The Odds Be Ever In Your Flavor
August 20, 2014 2:22 AM   Subscribe

One of the craziest "crowdsourcing" exercises in Marketing today is Lay's "Do Us A Flavor" Contest for new potato chip flavors. The first year in the U.S., 'Cheesy Garlic Bread' defeated 'Chicken & Waffles' and 'Sriracha' in a popular vote to earn its creator a million dollar prize. Exporting the competition to Canada (where it was named "Do Us A Flavour"), had a more dubious result when 'Maple Moose' outpolled 'Creamy Garlic Caesar', 'Perogy Platter' and 'Grilled Cheese & Ketchup' then bombed in the stores. But both contests are back for 2014, with American contenders 'Bacon Mac & Cheese', 'Cappuccino', 'Mango Salsa' and 'Wasabi Ginger' and the Canadian competitors 'Bacon Poutine', 'Cinnamon Bun', 'Jalapeño Mac & Cheese' and 'Tzatziki'. No wild animals there, but in the U.K., their British brand Walkers is doing it's own "Flavour" with six choices: 'Cheesy Beans on Toast', 'Hot Dog with Ketchup', 'Pulled Pork in BBQ Sauce', 'Steak Fajita', 'Chicken Curry' and 'Ranch Raccoon' (no Rocket Raccoon endorsement implied).

If you thought it couldn't possibly be worse, here's how it could be. (based on past experience, 'Rancid Owl' and 'Marsupial Medley' COULD be future contenders)
posted by oneswellfoop (138 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
I remember way back when, my mother used to take part in market research and we'd get boxes of weird crisp/potato chip flavours... hedgehog, early prawn cocktail, garlic mayo... I loved them all.
posted by itsjustanalias at 2:31 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


I saw Ranch Raccoon and Hot Dog with Ketchup in an airport a couple of weeks ago, it was too early in the morning and it only registered as "you must try this" hours later, but I'm passing through again in another few days so all is not lost. I am very excited about this; I love hot dogs and being disappointed.
posted by troika at 2:37 AM on August 20 [26 favorites]


I tried one of those bags of Doritos labeled only with a number only to remember that I fucking hate Doritos.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:40 AM on August 20 [2 favorites]


I considered including something about the Doritos Mystery Flavors but felt that neither I nor you had the endurance to get through it. The thing about the bags with the 'code numbers' that tickled me was that one of the options this time around is "404"... Flavor not found?
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:49 AM on August 20 [5 favorites]


I don't even like Lay's potato chips (too thin, too crumbly) but something about those cheesy garlic chips hits the, "these are horrible yet magically delicious" receptor in my brainball.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 3:01 AM on August 20 [4 favorites]


What's wrong with Haggis Fiesta?

That sounds AMAZING!
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:01 AM on August 20 [7 favorites]


Why don't they just introduce the popular French flavors that aren't seen in the US: roast chicken and bolognaise?
posted by snofoam at 3:02 AM on August 20 [6 favorites]


I'm pissed and kind of conflicted over being pissed that the US didn't get the cinnamon flavor. I want snickerdoodle chips next year.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 3:03 AM on August 20


Not to be outdone, Australia has also had one of these competitions, and the finalists were buttered popcorn, Caesar salad, late night kebab and BBQ coat of arms. That was a nice reminder that we eat the animals on our coat of arms (kangaroo and emu).

The meat based ones just tasted way too meaty. The Caesar salad ones were an amazing feat of food alchemy - getting potatoes to taste like lettuce! Buttered popcorn was nice but the texture didn't really match the flavour. I believe Caesar salad won. I confess to buying a few bags.
posted by pianissimo at 3:04 AM on August 20 [5 favorites]


Walkers in the UK introduced this idea in 2008 I believe; 'Builder's Breakfast' was the first winner. The campaign has run annually since then and won various awards, eg being nominated for a Marketing Society award back in 2011.
posted by Segundus at 3:04 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


To make this post even more Canadian, here's a link to the final four in Tim Hortons' Duelling Donuts contest.
posted by painquale at 3:08 AM on August 20


The meat based ones just tasted way too meaty.

Yeah, it's tough to do a meat-flavored non-meat thing, it seems to always end up being overly smoky. Like, Rogue's Voodoo Donut Bacon Maple beer just tasted like a bottle of liquid smoke, it obliterated any maple or donut flavor. It's a difficult balance to master (apparently, maybe I just have a low tolerance for fake smoke).
posted by troika at 3:14 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


Soylent Green
Full English Breakfast
Bongwater
posted by thelonius at 3:22 AM on August 20 [12 favorites]


What's wrong with Haggis Fiesta?

I'd buy Beets Beets Beets!
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:24 AM on August 20 [2 favorites]


We tried the cappuccino flavor. It's actually... not bad.

The problem is that after a couple chips our interest in it was sated, and the bag hasn't been opened since. Probably not a good business proposition for the manufacturer.
posted by ardgedee at 3:24 AM on August 20


I saw a huge phalanx of the "cappuccino" chips at my local supermarket and was so angry I tore them off the shelf and stomped all over the bags, satisfyingly popping them open and crushing the contents. Then I realized it smelled kind of good and felt confused and almost remorseful
posted by Red Loop at 3:35 AM on August 20 [8 favorites]


I have a bag of the Walkers Fajita, the Pulled Pork, and the Chicken Curry.

Actually, I have two each of the Fajita and Curry and one of the Pulled Pork, because it was in one of those six-bags-in-one-bag deals. And it was £1. Because Poundland.

The Pulled Pork wasn't bad, a trifle boring (especially compared to the Barbeque ones that we can get) but I'm just about to try the Fajita.

A lovely lime and coriander smell when I open the bag.

Cumin, beef, hint of chili and tomato.

I think we have a winner. Oh damn, these are tasty. I wonder if I can get the Steak Fajita seasoning in a giant container to liberally powder on everything I eat. Steak Fajita vegetables. Steak Fajita chips. Steak Fajita toast. Steak Fajita fajitas in a burrito-ception of delight.

It was nice knowing you all. I plan to run away with these crisps and live in sin with my new Sizzling Steak Fajita lover.
posted by Katemonkey at 3:35 AM on August 20 [19 favorites]


Salt, salt, salt.

Triple salt?
posted by flippant at 4:00 AM on August 20


The thing about the bags with the 'code numbers' that tickled me was that one of the options this time around is "404"... Flavor not found?

Would that just be, like, a straight cornchip, with that trademark Doritos slightly-stale noncrunch?
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:03 AM on August 20


Cappuccino flavor is great! Like peanuts and m&ms -- a little salty and a little sweet. Actually it's more like French fries dipped in chocolate milkshake, for those who know how amazing that is.
posted by jfwlucy at 4:13 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


The cheesy garlic bread ones are awesome for my wife. She has Celiac and most breadish flavored chips have some form of gluten in them. However these do not and they taste pretty darn close to actual cheesy garlic bread. So she loves them. I'll be very sad when they go awawy.
posted by Twain Device at 4:15 AM on August 20


I think we've reached Peak Flavour.
posted by blue_beetle at 4:16 AM on August 20 [6 favorites]


Peak Flavor, however, still is decades away.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 4:19 AM on August 20 [8 favorites]


I'm waiting for Healing Himalayan Salt Chips.
posted by oceanjesse at 4:24 AM on August 20


In a strange act of serendipity, three of the US flavors ended up showing up at a gathering of friends recently, as attendees had all seen them and bought a flavor as a joke.

Bacon Mac & Cheese was by far the most palatable, which was not surprising. Cappucino was ... not good. It tasted like eating raw coffee grinds. Weirdly, though, the most reviled was Mango Salsa. It sounds OK in theory, but all in attendance refused to eat a second chip, declaring it various levels of disgusting.

I joked with my wife about picking up the Wasabi Ginger flavor afterwards, and she did not think it was funny...
posted by tocts at 4:24 AM on August 20


I'm also waiting for Bottled Water Chips.
posted by oceanjesse at 4:24 AM on August 20 [7 favorites]


The real test should be done at dispensaries in Colorado. It is a null test in that you can only rule out flavors that people won't have a second helping of, but just because people have a second helping does not make them good.
posted by 724A at 4:31 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


Albatross!
posted by Decani at 4:33 AM on August 20 [7 favorites]


My ideas: chocolate mole (the peppery kind, not the mammal-y kind), lemon curd or lemon cream, mango lassi, watermelon and feta.
posted by taz at 4:35 AM on August 20 [2 favorites]


My favorite short-run flavor is Cedar Wood Chip Lays
posted by cellphone at 4:37 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


oooh watermelon and feta would be a good chip, especially if they add a little mint.

I feel like a strawberry shortcake chip could work. Or grilled peaches. On the savory side, roast beef & horseradish.
posted by troika at 4:40 AM on August 20


So far I've only seen Cappuccino flavored chips at the local CVS, I didn't know there was a contest going on so I was mildly confused. Good to hear that they've added a few other flavors, I'm a big fan of Asian-variety potato chips which seem to be sadly not available in NY or USA.
posted by chrono_rabbit at 4:42 AM on August 20


I was profoundly surprised when the sriracha did not win last year.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:44 AM on August 20 [5 favorites]


Interesting that the Walker's brand is highlighting the geographic area that inspired the magic flavor crystals on the chips.

It figures that the bacon mac-and-cheese Lay's flavor would be popular here, but the wasabi/ginger flavor gets my vote.
posted by emelenjr at 4:53 AM on August 20


Charlie Brooker reviews the last round of Walkers flavours.

Highlights:
Builders Breakfast - taste of stale fried egg
Fish & Chips - like kissing someone who's just eaten a plateful of scampi.
Cajun Squirrel - taste precisely like a tiny cat piping hot farts through a pot-pourri pouch into your mouth.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:05 AM on August 20 [11 favorites]


Kettle Brand chips offer a Sriracha flavor. They're ok but a little too ketchupy for my taste, with not enough vinegar/spice.
posted by staccato signals of constant information at 5:09 AM on August 20


Growing up in Canada, we were always exposed to a weird galaxy of chip flavors at our local stores. Roast turkey with stuffing? Maple wasabi? Sure, whatever. If anything, the flavors that Lay's picked out for Canada are kind of pedestrian? Old Dutch has been rolling out a calamari & tzatiki flavor for a while. Come on, guys, chana masala dosa and Korean fried chicken with kimchi or gtfo.

Also, friends would bring back smoked haggis flavored crisps from Scotland, and it always tasted disappointingly like a mashup of barbecue and bacon flavors when my mouth was really hoping for a little more liver, kidney or bone marrow in there.
posted by bl1nk at 5:10 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


I'd be more interesting in learning about the companies - whose names I can't remember right now (and are fairly secretive) that make the flavourings for these. Why can't we deal with them directly to source our own flavour compounds? Now that would be a new spin on the little blue bags...
posted by treblekicker at 5:12 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


Walkers did Comic Relief one year, including Stephen Fry flavour
posted by Segundus at 5:15 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


Cajun Squirrel - taste precisely like a tiny cat piping hot farts through a pot-pourri pouch into your mouth.

The terrible thing about this word-picture is that I can imagine it clearly in every detail. For this I am not thankful.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:16 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


Cappucino was ... not good. It tasted like eating raw coffee grinds.

Yeah. My experience with them was mostly about the overwhelming smell of coffee grounds that filled my nose and mouth as I was eating them. It was fairly revolting. I actually threw them away which is rare; I compulsively eat almost everything.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:16 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


Oh crap, I just tried the Chip Shop Chicken Curry ones.

Back when this was all starting out, my husband insisted that a chicken katsu curry flavour would be the most amazing flavour ever.

These definitely could use more flavouring, but they're awfully close to that dream.

If they had more curry flavouring, and added just a hint of fried chicken, these might usurp my current romance with Sizzling Steak Fajita.
posted by Katemonkey at 5:16 AM on August 20 [4 favorites]


I tried cinnamon bun yesterday.

It may be a finalist, but I can't see it actually being popular.
posted by jb at 5:17 AM on August 20


For giggles, I bought the Mango Salsa and Wasabi Ginger flavors last week. The Mango Salsa chips are a little too sweet, but tasty. The Wasabi Ginger chips are wonderful!
posted by MissySedai at 5:17 AM on August 20


Next up: 4chan notices, winning flavor is 'Hitler did nothing wrong'.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 5:17 AM on August 20 [2 favorites]


A small shipment of the apparently-not-popular-in-New-England Limon flavored Lays ended up at the local 7-11. After I polished them off (over the course of a week), the staff suggested I move on to the Cappuccino flavor. I refused.
posted by davros42 at 5:25 AM on August 20


katemonkey: what about eating a Chicken Curry and Steak Fajita at the same time?
posted by troika at 5:26 AM on August 20


Why does Canada get better flavors? Except for that maple crap. I'm not drinking tree blood.
posted by Foosnark at 5:29 AM on August 20 [2 favorites]


So someone should go over all these competitions, so we can confirm all our culinary stereotypes. Here a few European entries from a quick Googling:

Sweden 2011: amateur competition, winner chosen by sales numbers and votes. Not very surprisingly, "Kebab Dream" (döner kebab-style) just barely won over "Sourcream & Italian Cheese", far ahead of "Salt & Vinegar" (sorry, brits). Cash prices iiuc, none of the flavours are still around.

Switzerland 2012 (where chips generally come in exactly two flavours, "natural" and "paprika"): competitors could mix 100 ingredients in a web app (how about Strawberries with Veal, Salmon, and Banana?), and vote for their favourite combinations, the top 50 (out of 12,000 suggestions) were produced in small batches, and a panel then picked "Sunny Forest" (onion, mushroom, bacon) and "Malaknesa" (pickled cucumber, dill). Winners received a percentage of sales.

Sweden 2014: three flavours designed by professional chefs: Roast Chicken, Jalapeño Yoghurt, and Triple Onion. The results aren't in yet, what I can tell.

Haven't tried any of these.
posted by effbot at 5:30 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


It's amusing to me that Sweden has twice picked flavors that are already produced elsewhere (Salt & Vinegar and Roast Chicken, which I've seen in Canada).

I also really really want to try Sunny Forest. That sounds delicious.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:33 AM on August 20


Foosnark - part of me suspects that the Canadian market basically gets to be the test bed/dumping ground for a wide variety of marginal food ideas streaming out of American flavor factories.. 'Tzatziki' flavored chips are likely a rebranded version of a tweaked or broken 'sour cream and onion' formula. 'Cheeseburger slider' is probably a tweak on a barbecue chip molecule gone wonky with cheese flavoring added on top. Cf. above example of haggis chips just basically being a rebranding on bacon flavor. Part of marketing is to present you with a credible concept for what the chemical flavor is and then letting your imagination take you the rest of the way.
posted by bl1nk at 5:43 AM on August 20 [6 favorites]


I just want all of the flavors that are available, from the same megaconglomerates, in other parts of the world.

Magic Curry! Chicken Namtog!

For the love of god, you filthy pigs, NAMTOG!
posted by aramaic at 5:51 AM on August 20


Oh god I want tzatziki chips.
posted by elsietheeel at 5:54 AM on August 20


Bacon Poutine tasted precisely like neither. Jalapeno Mac was... ok I guess. Nothing much novel about spicy cheese chips. I'm on the lookout for the Cinnamon and Tzatziki flavours now.

It's funny, but I found the Maple Bacon ones last year were the worst flavour (but I'm anti-artificial sweetener anyway). The Caesar Salad ones were surprisingly good.

President's Choice has done a World of Flavours line with choices like Moroccan Spice, General Tao, Tandoori BBQ, Piri Piri, Greek, Jerk Chicken, Ballpark Hot Dog, and a ton of others. But they tend to blend together in taste to me.

Still, nothing has outdone the late 70s Hostess brand fruit-flavoured potato chips - cherry, grape, and orange. I can't even find a picture of them online, but it's easy to find people with memories of them - tortured, unrepressable, and vivid. So bad, I couldn't just throw the bag away, I had to bury it three feet deep at the local beach.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 5:54 AM on August 20 [2 favorites]


Some co-workers bought all the flavours to try them out. All the bags were soon empty, but cinnamon bun stayed on the lunchroom table for a few days unfinished.

It did taste just like a tasty cinnamon bun. I think we're just not in a place where we can enjoy a sweet chip.
posted by beau jackson at 5:57 AM on August 20


I was at a party the other week and someone had brought the Cappucino and the Mango Salsa flavors. The Cappucino was merely bad, but the Mango Salsa was an abomination unto nature. Weirdly sweet, with that not-quite-fruit and not-quite-tomato aftertaste... Ugh.
posted by marginaliana at 6:08 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


There are mysteries in cinnamon. Time after time, the only bagels left at the supermarkets are Cinnamon and Raisin- the only bagel variant I can't stomach. Clearly, many others feel the same way. So why are they still made in such numbers? Why not just make more of the others?

Snack flavours I'd like to try:

Sputnik
Moog Soldersmoke
Schadenfreude
Saint's Bone
Dirty Snowball
1969 In The Sunshine
Orkney Vole
posted by Devonian at 6:10 AM on August 20 [12 favorites]


The computer has already established that the most popular flavours are bookends, pumice stone and West Germany.
posted by Segundus at 6:14 AM on August 20 [6 favorites]


What's kinda remarkable about the Bacon Mac and Cheese chips, is that they're not bacon cheddar with a twee name. There is something about them that's decidedly mac and cheesy. It's made me gustatorially contemplative more than once.
posted by gnomeloaf at 6:15 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


Anybody with an interest in flavor should read that chapter of Fast Food Nation where the author goes to a flavor lab and is exposed to test tubes that smell of buttered popcorn, fruit, and one of the major fast food hamburgers.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:16 AM on August 20


Ricky: Randy, come back here for a second.
Randy: What's up, Rick?
Ricky: Listen man, if you go down to the store and pick me up some "ja-lap-ano" chips and $2 worth of pepperoni, I'll hang out with you for a bit.
Bubbles: Yeah, and get me some fuckin' Gummiworms and stuff.
Randy: Gummiworms, OK. Jalapeño chips. Pepperoni. You want anything, Julian?
Julian: (shakes his head no)
Randy: Does anyone else want anything while I'm down there?
Julian: (changes his mind) Yeah, pick me up a bag of "hal-a-peeno" chips.
Randy: All right.
Ricky: "Hal-a-peeno?" What flavor is that?
Julian: Ricky, the J is silent. You're saying it wrong.
Bubbles: The J is like an H, Ricky. "Hal-a-peeno," not "ja-lap-ano."
Ricky: What in the fuck are you guys talking about?
Bubbles: "Hal-a-peeno! Hal-a-peeno!" That's how you pronounce it.
Ricky: I know how to pronounce it! I ordered fuckin' "ja-lap-ano!"
posted by valkane at 6:22 AM on August 20 [4 favorites]


Wasabi Ginger sounds like the best one to me. It is one of my life's great regrets that I was never able to lay my hands on a bag of Wasabi Funyuns.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 6:24 AM on August 20


> Limon flavored Lays

Those are pretty common in the South, where the Hispanic sections of convenience stores and groceries have whole product lines of Spanish-labeled snack products from Frito-Lay (Doritos Dinamata!) and Barcel (Takis Fuego!).
posted by ardgedee at 6:25 AM on August 20


Why don't they just introduce the popular French flavors that aren't seen in the US: roast chicken and bolognaise?

Roast chicken at least I see in Nova Scotia betimes. Good news for people in Maine, perhaps.

Chip flavours are so artificially created that I would like it if one week a year (starting April 1, perhaps) that potato chips and ice cream companies swapped flavours: barbecue ranch and sour cream & onion for ice cream, rocky road and pistachio for chips.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:28 AM on August 20


I was really hoping to love the lime-flavored hot Cheetos I got from a gas station in Texas a few years back, but they were weird and burned my mouth (too much pure citric acid maybe?).

On the other hand, lime shrimp Maruchan ramen is fucking divine.
posted by Night_owl at 6:30 AM on August 20


barbecue ranch and sour cream & onion for ice cream

I've made sriracha, mustard, beet, bleu cheese, and avocado ice cream* and they've all been pretty tasty. I could definitely see a bbq ice cream working, especially if there are figs involved (as depicted on the walkers pulled pork bag).

*not a single batch, that would be gross
posted by troika at 6:34 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


I am SO GRATEFUL not to be employed in snack food R&D.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:41 AM on August 20


I would like it if one week a year (starting April 1, perhaps) that potato chips and ice cream companies swapped flavours: barbecue ranch and sour cream & onion for ice cream, rocky road and pistachio for chips.

Savory and vegetable flavor ice creams were once a Thing. There's a food historian blogger I've run into who is all into ice cream, and sometimes gives ice cream making classes where she also gets into the history of ice cream a bit. And some of the flavors from the 17th and 18th centuries were things like fennel or asparagus. In fact, here's a blog post where she recreates a sort of fancy dessert thing with tomato, artichoke and pea ice cream in a jello mold; and she's following an actual 19th-century recipe.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:42 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


Ant Medley
posted by Itaxpica at 6:46 AM on August 20


Those are pretty common in the South, where the Hispanic sections of convenience stores and groceries have whole product lines of Spanish-labeled snack products from Frito-Lay (Doritos Dinamata!) and Barcel (Takis Fuego!).

Indiana has started to get chili lime flavored snacks (FUCK YEAH SABRITONES) and that's pretty great.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:48 AM on August 20


I feel for the one person out there who thought Maple Moose was the best thing ever, and now mourn its demise.
posted by Harald74 at 6:50 AM on August 20


Perogie Platter? "You know what would make a good flavor for potatoes? Potatoes!"
posted by Hoopo at 6:52 AM on August 20 [8 favorites]


Can someone explain the french translation of Tzatziki for me?

Curres a la Marmite? What?
posted by empath at 6:58 AM on August 20


Growing up in Canada, we were always exposed to a weird galaxy of chip flavors at our local stores.

As an American child in the '70's this, maybe more than milk in bags, certainly more so than the tiny vinegar packets at Canadian McDonalds, was my favorite thing about Canada. At home you had BBQ and maybe Salt & Vinegar and Sour Cream & Onion. In Canada it was like, Lobster! and Chocolate! and I dunno Whale! You really knew how to blow a ten year old's mind.

I expected to see Marmite or Chip Butty on the UK list. On the US list, I demand Fried Okra!
posted by octobersurprise at 6:58 AM on August 20 [9 favorites]


Also Maple Moose is a textbook example of people being willing to eat shit in the name of patriotism.
posted by empath at 6:59 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


Nori Lays are better than all that taste factory bullshit.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 7:00 AM on August 20


I don't even like Lay's potato chips (too thin, too crumbly) but something about those cheesy garlic chips hits the, "these are horrible yet magically delicious" receptor in my brainball.

I had four or five bags of the Chicken & Waffles flavor. I absolutely inhaled each one, just WHAM it was done. And I honestly have not the faintest idea whether I like them.
posted by Etrigan at 7:10 AM on August 20


Can someone explain the french translation of Tzatziki for me? Curres a la Marmite? What?

It's the translation of "kettle cooked" (marmite = pot). Tzatziki is Tzatziki in french.
posted by effbot at 7:13 AM on August 20


Why don't they just introduce the popular French flavors that aren't seen in the US: roast chicken and bolognaise

Hm, I might just be tempted by escargot or fois gras chips. Duck and fig terrine chips? Choritzo-cilantro? Berbere? Panang basil lime chips? Huitlachoche corn chips?

Whew. This is probably a good moment to pause and reflect on "Sabor de Soledad."
posted by aught at 7:13 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


I'm holding out for Meow Mix Lays.
posted by item at 7:15 AM on August 20 [2 favorites]


I brought a bag each of Cinnamon Bun and Bacon Poutine to a gathering and reviews were mixed. There was some love for each and lots of verdicts of "nice...but I wouldn't eat a whole bag".
I was squarely in team Poutine...delicious gravy & cheese curd flavours but I could barely taste any bacon, which was fine with me. Why anyone would put bacon on already perfect poutine is beyond me.
posted by rocket88 at 7:15 AM on August 20


I just want all of the flavors that are available, from the same megaconglomerates, in other parts of the world.

This is kind of like my vain longing that the local McD would start offering the chicken masala burger or the paneer wrap.
posted by aught at 7:18 AM on August 20 [2 favorites]


I tried the cappuccino chips.

They are vile.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:21 AM on August 20 [2 favorites]


test tubes that smell of buttered popcorn, fruit, and one of the major fast food hamburgers.

I feel like there should be some way to buy little spritzers of these to encourage kids (and recalcitrant adults as well for that matter) to eat more/larger portions of healthier foods. I assume that the flavor manufacturers either don't see enough profit in this or that they are being crushed beneath the crisp potato fist of Big Snacks.
posted by elizardbits at 7:29 AM on August 20


I was profoundly surprised when the sriracha did not win last year.

Probably because the Sriracha tasted more like a slightly-modified BBQ than real sriracha sauce. They wimped out.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:35 AM on August 20


Frito-Lay should partner with Apple Cabin Foods for their next batch of flavors.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:41 AM on August 20 [7 favorites]


The fancier British crisps are amazing: minted lamb? Stilton with grape?! But I'm never doing anything more adventurous with a Walkers bag than Thai chile after the horrifically disgusting entry for America during the World Cup crisp competition: the Cheeseburger crisp. It tasted like a Whopper that had fallen on the floor, fermented a bit, been stepped on by Andre the Giant and then scrapped up and glued with additional special sauce to a potato. I did a taste test by putting some out on an unlabeled plate and I thought my Canadian flat mate was going to stop talking to me after he tried one. Never again, chip contests. Never again.

(The Brazilian one was delicious though, it had bits of rosemary in it)
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:56 AM on August 20


I am also a fruit-flavoured chips survivor. Imagine eating potato chips liberally dusted with grape jell-o powder and you come close to the horror.

We tried the Cinnamon Bun ones last night. It was a bit like eating mock apple pie made from crackers. The taste is there but everything else about it is wrong.
posted by atropos at 7:59 AM on August 20


What in the ever living hell is Raccoon Ranch?!

Is it flavored with ranch raised raccoon meat? Are there vast prairies filled with the sounds of cowboys whistling and the skitter of raccoon paws? Are the raccoons herded onto train cars before finding their way to an industrial slaughterhouse, each animal rubbing it's front paws together in terror?

Have your fun with these zany flavors, but know that the zaniness comes at a terrible ethical price.
posted by vorpal bunny at 8:07 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


Oh man, you guys are going to love this New Yorker article: The Taste Makers. Ever since I read it, I've quietly resented conspicuously flavored things.

....I saw a number of his colleagues working on a tasteless “slurry,” consisting largely of starch, oil, and salt, which a client was hoping to transform into a marketable product. The client had asked the flavor company’s in-house chef to develop various dips, such as guacamole, using fresh ingredients; after settling on the best recipes, the company’s flavorists mimicked them chemically, with an eye toward injecting the flavor compounds into the slurry in the most stable and cost-effective way.
posted by redsparkler at 8:10 AM on August 20


I've tried three of this year's American selection so far, though I haven't been able to get the courage to try the Cappucino ones.

First up was Mango Salsa. My husband loved these; I thought they tasted like vomit. This may have something to do with cilantro reportedly being involved in the flavoring.

Bacon Mac & Cheese was ok, but not spectacular. I mean, it tasted like cheese and bacon, so that was good, but there was nothing about the way they did that combination that made me feel like I needed to try more than one chip

Wasabi Ginger could have gone either very right or very wrong; I happen to think it went very right. Dear reader, I ate the whole bag, then decided I needed more of this in my life and went out and bought four more bags. Just in case, you understand, people are stupid stupidheads and don't make it a "real" flavor at the end of the contest and I need a hoard to fall back on. I'm still bitter about Doritos killing my beloved Caribbean Citrus Jerk flavor from their "experimental flavor" thing earlier this year and leaving me with none in reserve. Damn you, Doritos! Damn you, America!
posted by Hold your seahorses at 8:11 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


Up in Canada, when Hostess (later bought out by Frito-Lay and rebranded as Lay's) first started making flavoured chips, they started with flavours like orange, grape, and cherry. Those flavours didn't do too well, for obvious reasons.

The canonical Canadian flavours -- ketchup, all dressed, dill pickle, etc. -- were the creation of Humpty Dumpty.

Out west, I'm pretty sure Old Dutch (which is actually a Minnesotan company, but close enough; they've since bought out Humpty Dumpty) was the first with jalapeño around 1990, which like all their chips were sold in boxes with clear bags inside them that were impossible to open.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:12 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


Oh, and...

Y'all realize Frito-Lay don't give a fuck if these flavours taste any good, right? They're banking (successfully) on your curiosity getting the better of you. As long as they've convinced you to buy their chips, they make just as much money whether you finish the whole bag or fill that giant air void with your vomit just from the initial stink.

You will not enjoy their new Gilded Turtle Droppings flavoured chips. Don't bother buying them.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:18 AM on August 20


We had a game night a few weeks ago, and had all four Lays flavors for sampling.

The Bacon Mac and Cheese flavor was BY FAR my favorite, and I think since then I've eaten two bags. Most everyone else found it to be boring and too much like other cheese-flavored chips.

The Wasabi Ginger flavor was probably the winner of the night - everyone else seemed to enjoy them (I, unfortunately, can't stand the flavor of wasabi, so I didn't like them). They were also of the kettle variety, which I think encouraged people's love of this chip.

The Cappuccino flavor was pretty polarizing - some people enjoyed them, and some, like me, thought they were incredibly unappetizing. I think it could have worked had it been sweeter, but as it was, it was just like eating a plain chip with a vague hint of coffee grinds.

The Mango Salsa was the unanimous loser. We all agreed that the potential was there for a great flavor, but it just failed spectacularly. There was just nothing right about this flavor. We were torn on whether it tasted more like a candle or more like hand cream.
posted by MsVader at 8:22 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


Y'all realize Frito-Lay don't give a fuck if these flavours taste any good, right? They're banking (successfully) on your curiosity getting the better of you.

Well, duh. It's not that different from a restaurant having unusual items on the menu - same as I'll go to a place specifically because they have popcorn soup or strawberry pasta, I will try a hot dog flavored potato chip. There's nothing wrong with wanting to try something new.
posted by troika at 8:24 AM on August 20 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I think we're all pretty aware that we're consumers. It's not like I'm being duped to try stupid snack flavors. I would do that anyway.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:27 AM on August 20 [4 favorites]


Ant Medley

this was me. my greatest accomplishment is starting a surreal chip flavor meme using cory doctorow's name

since i deleted my blog heres an arbitrary reblog of that post that still works
posted by p3on at 8:34 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


Americans don't have vinegar packets at fast food places?? *Mind blown*

President's Choice has a weirdly good Poutine chip already. Guilty sin.
posted by kanata at 8:34 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


Y'all realize Frito-Lay don't give a fuck if these flavours taste any good, right? They're banking (successfully) on your curiosity getting the better of you.

Well, duh. It's not that different from a restaurant having unusual items on the menu - same as I'll go to a place specifically because they have popcorn soup or strawberry pasta, I will try a hot dog flavored potato chip.


The point of most of these new flavors isn't really even to sell these new flavors -- it's to get "Lay's potato chips" on people's minds. In the same vein, Domino's doesn't really care whether you buy its sandwiches or McDonald's whether you buy a McRib. They're just ads for the brand so you'll continue to remember Domino's when you want pizza or McDonald's when you want crap.
posted by Etrigan at 8:36 AM on August 20


Christ I just remembered the worst crisps I ever ate. I forget what brand they were, but they were "baked potato & butter" flavour. Lets think for a second - potato flavoured crisps? Potato flavoured potato?

Anyway, they are the only crisp I've ever stopped eating, and thrown the rest away (included some unopened packets - it was a multipack) because sweet jesus they tasted like sick. I checked the ingredients, one of the main ones (after potato, obv) was sugar. Where in "potato and butter" does sugar even come into it? What the actual fuck.

Oh shit, found them: Seabrook's "Jacket Potato With Creamy Butter" flavour. Here's a review.
I couldn’t believe what I was eating. These have to be the strangest concoction of a flavouring that I have ever had the misfortune to try. I eat a lot of weird crisps, but these really do take the biscuit. My mouth was filled with a shocking sugary sweetness and vague after taste of savoury butter.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:46 AM on August 20


Y'all realize Frito-Lay don't give a fuck if these flavours taste any good, right? They're banking (successfully) on your curiosity getting the better of you.

So, you seriously thought you had to point this out in a thread where half the comments are outright mockery and many of the others are about completely other brands of snack than Frito-Lay?
posted by aught at 8:49 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


I will try a hot dog flavored potato chip.

The worst chip I've ever had was 7-11's 'Big Bite' flavored chip. I don't know what I expected, though.
posted by empath at 8:50 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


The best review of the Cappuccino flavor I've found.
posted by Carillon at 8:56 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


I have not tried many of these abominable violations of my beloved spud. The cappuccino flavor was absolutely disgusting.

If you are going to do a squirrel flavor, I would suggest a Squirrel Curry. It heightens the unique flavor without overemphasizing the gamey qualities.



Also I am eating Tao Kae Noi Wasabi Flavor Crispy Seaweed, which lays waste to any potato chip I have ever eaten in my life. You are super jealous they are not currently in your mouth.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:59 AM on August 20


Snack flavours I'd like to try:

Sputnik
Moog Soldersmoke
Schadenfreude
Saint's Bone
Dirty Snowball
1969 In The Sunshine
Orkney Vole


Devonian, i think you might have a promising future with Demeter or Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 9:05 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


I lived in the UK when they started these contests and although I never eat chips/crisps, I always liked trying the new flavors because I always marveled at how much they could make chips taste like what they were advertising. In particular, when they ran the country flavors, the American Cheeseburger chips tasted exactly like Burger King - you could even taste the pickles.

Here's a pic of the Stephen Fry Up flavor

Here's the Cajun Squirrel flavor (complete with a worried looking, and probably doomed, squirrel)
posted by triggerfinger at 9:05 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


I want some Walkers right now Lays aren't even close to the same thing.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:41 AM on August 20


Meanwhile, Bacon Poutine and Tzatziki are both good ideas that could definitely be successful, as well as Wasabi Ginger and Mango Salsa in the U.S.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:43 AM on August 20


In the spirit of inquiry, I bought some of the Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese on the way back from lunch. They're good. Strong cheese flavor, little bit of smokiness. Not as good as Loaded Cheddar and Bacon Ruffles, which they taste similar to, unsurpisingly, but I would definitely buy again.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:49 AM on August 20


I came in here just to say that last year, my wife and I brought our two young boys to Europe for a week, as their first real international experience. In Paris, we stayed in a beautiful apartment overlooking the Seine, facing right at Notre Dame, close enough you could probably huck a baseball through the front door. We rode bikes through the streets of Amsterdam and let them try their first sips of beer in Belgium.

One of the highlights of their trip? The Frito-Lay Max Craquantes Saveur Cheeseburger chips in France. And I'm not even mad about it... on preview, triggerfinger beat me to it above... that shit was amazing.

They weren't "inspired by" hamburgers in the same way that, say, "blue raspberry"-flavored things are distantly reminiscent of actual raspberries. Each chip was like a tiny, crispy burger. You could close your eyes and pick out each flavor individually, they were all there: smoky beef, cheese, ketchup, mustard, pickles... in the right amounts, perfectly balanced. We were astounded that these had not become a thing in the US--they're a guaranteed success.

Every time I walk through the chip aisle in a grocery store, part of me is still scanning for (what should be the inevitable arrival of) cheeseburger chips. So what do I see this month? Cappuccino chips flying onto the shelves, and staying there. Like a big "fuck you" from Frito-Lay headquarters.
posted by rodeoclown at 10:28 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


I gently encourage (nay, DEMAND) bags of the President's Choice chips when my Canadian authors visit. Maple bacon. Tikka masala (oh god, SO good).

Starting to think we need to organize an international chip exchange...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:31 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


3 of my fave chip flavors I tried in Japan:

Curry (which is not available in Canada despite apparently being quite common in the UK)
Borscht
Okonomiyaki
posted by Hoopo at 10:37 AM on August 20


Oh also

there was one time I was at the supermarket and they had Caesar Salad flavor potato chips. I was curious but seriously? No. Caesar salad is already sort of half-assing salad, but at least you can say you ate a salad. You got some lettuce and garlic in there, good job, ignoring that it's all full of fat and bad stuff. Now we're going to add fat and salt to that, and take away the vegetables, because fuck it. Let's dip 'em in ranch dressing while we're at it.
posted by Hoopo at 10:42 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


The Wasabi-Ginger are hands-down the favorite in our house of the current US trials.
posted by tomierna at 11:31 AM on August 20


Hoopo: "Perogie Platter? "You know what would make a good flavor for potatoes? Potatoes!""

It's really Sour Cream, Bacon, Cheese, Sausage, Onion and Butter flavour but that wouldn't fit on the label.

Sys Rq: "Y'all realize Frito-Lay don't give a fuck if these flavours taste any good, right? "

There must be some hope for brand conversion (though probably significant cannibalization of existing customers) and new customer uptake.

Hoopo: "Borscht"

Oh man, that could be outstanding.
posted by Mitheral at 11:43 AM on August 20


Lay's did wasabi-flavoured chips up here for a while and they were glorious.

Also, given the title of the post, one of the most disgusting/not-getting-it things I've ever seen was the marketing tie-in between The Hunger Games and Subway. Yuck.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:46 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


Soy and Wasabi almonds are one of the best things ever. I see no reason why chips wouldn't work.
posted by Naberius at 12:58 PM on August 20


and now, the Lay's Flavor Meme, starring Jeff Goldblum
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:19 PM on August 20


The worst thing I have ever tried is Monster Munch's pickled onion flavour, and even more astonishing than the ghastly taste was the number of people who became wildly outraged by my totally valid and accurate criticisms of what was apparently their favourite snack.
posted by elizardbits at 2:12 PM on August 20


even just the smell should be declared a crime against humanity by the hague
posted by elizardbits at 2:13 PM on August 20


Get. Out.
posted by ominous_paws at 2:42 PM on August 20


just think of all the money world govts will save using the smell of it to replace waterboarding
posted by elizardbits at 2:52 PM on August 20


Wow, thanks to this thread I've spent a whole afternoon exploring the PerogyPlatter tag..damn u for the time waster!!!!
posted by threeants at 3:03 PM on August 20


As a snack buff I kind of find all this fun. I brought some in for my coworkers and consensus was that Wasabi and Ginger, but that the Cappuccino chip was just too weird although enjoyable in a gustatory acid trip sort of way.
posted by jonmc at 4:30 PM on August 20


Americans don't have vinegar packets at fast food places?? *Mind blown*

Five Guys has vinegar, but that's the only place I've seen it, unfortunately.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:27 PM on August 20


So what do I see this month? Cappuccino chips flying onto the shelves, and staying there. Like a big "fuck you" from Frito-Lay headquarters.

I rarely eat potato chips, but the summer I spent in the UK? I ate innumerable bags of Walkers crisps: roast chicken, cheese and onion, tomato ketchup, steak and onion, FOUR cheese and onion, oven roast chicken and thyme, roast lamb and mint sauce, roasted onion and balsamic...

PepsiCo bought Frito-Lay in 1965 and Walkers in 1989. They have had 25 years to get their act together and bring traditionally delicious UK crisp flavors to the colonies and they have FAILED.

(Herr's Ketchup chips don't count. Neither do ketchup chips from Canada. I don't know why, they just don't.)
posted by elsietheeel at 6:28 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


I have forever been disappointed that the galaxy of flavours available in chips has never been extended to the cheesy poof form. I love the poof, but why is it only ever cheesy?
posted by emeiji at 9:48 PM on August 20


I'm not familiar with a Cheesy poof but are they not similar to this?
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 1:43 AM on August 21


Here in New Zealand Bluebird ran a “Do Us a Flavour” promotion in 2010.

The four finalists were: I can't say I tried any of them at the time but I kinda want to now
posted by Start with Dessert at 2:32 AM on August 21


I have never found a Roast Chicken flavour crisp that doesn't taste like developing fluid*. Which, to be fair, may just be me but it does make me greatly suspicious of any fancy flavoured crisp.

I don't drink developing fluid, obviously but I did spend 2 years with my hands almost perpetually immersed in the stuff and there's only so long you can scrub before you tip into Lady Macbeth territory. That stuff lingers.
posted by halcyonday at 2:51 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I once picked up a bag of Walker's Marmite crisps at a British goods store in Toronto.
They were the most disgusting things I've ever tasted.

I had one, my wife had one.
I had another one in my disbelief that anyone would actually enjoy this.

The rest of the bag was tossed.
posted by Chuckles McLaughy du Haha, the depressed clown at 7:31 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I refuse to believe they actually tried to market marmite flavored crisps and instead just tried to salvage a production run that was tainted by a yeast outbreak.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 7:56 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


the Cappuccino chip was just too weird although enjoyable in a gustatory acid trip sort of way.

This sounds like the exact justification I use on the infrequent occasions I purchase some Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray Soda.
(When ordering): "Oh hey, yeah, celery flavor soda. What a trip. Yeah, I'll have that."

(First sip): "Huh, yeah, celery-flavor soda. It's soda that tastes like celery. Wild!"

(Fifteen minutes later, after about 20 fascinated sips): "Wait, I forgot the part where I do not actually like celery-flavored soda."
I've done this about four times now. Most likely I will do this again.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:58 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


Sainsbury's used to do decent Marmite crisps. The official Marmite crisps are actually disgusting, probably because they are made with celery salt and not enough Marmite extract.
posted by vickyverky at 12:57 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


You have marmite crisps, Australia has, or should I say, had, thank goodness vegemite chips. Maybe they were OK if you really love vegemite, but given that the tradition way to "enjoy" vegemite is to spread the barest, thinnest scraping that you can manage over or under a truckload of butter, I'd say not many people fall into that category.

Or to put it another way, at the end of the promotion the chips were going for like 20c/bag, there were heaps left and I didn't buy any and I'm a sucker for salty snacks.
posted by pianissimo at 5:55 PM on August 21


Took me this long to work up the nerve/enthusiasm to try the flavours I missed. Tzatziki tastes OK I guess. Kettle chips have a harder crunch, which I'm not really understanding why they went with that here (might have been better in the bacon one), and it's too salty.

Lay's makes a great low sodium chip, where you get closer to a potato taste. After you've had half a dozen bags of those, however, do not go back to the regular version unless you're in need of a salt lick.

Reading the comments here, I was prepared for the cinnamon bun version. Paired with a nice dark coffee, they weren't bad. I couldn't imagine eating them alone or with a soda.

So, no real winners this year. Just a range of just off the mark options. I do hope they keep this up, though. Within the narrow band of "acceptable to mass market" potato chips, it's good to have variety.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 7:40 AM on August 26


The hot dog chips taste a lot like a nice all-beef dog. It's incredible. I thought it was going to be overwhelmingly ketchupy, but there was a nice balance. Very impressed with the chip science behind that one.
posted by troika at 8:49 AM on August 27


Whisky and Haggis chips!!!! We really do need to set up some sort of snack exchange (snackange?).
posted by troika at 8:47 AM on August 28


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