On Tuesday night, Anna, Kevin and I embarked upon a Lay’s taste test cage match. Four flavors will enter, only one will survive. Who gets the vote to be saved??
Chip Tasting with a beer palate cleanser
No, literally. You vote to save one flavor. This is some real Lost type shit happening here.*
*I only saw that first like 3 episodes of Lost. But, I’ve got a whole mythos created in my mind. Everyone on it was a potato chip and had to be saved. But in the end, all the chips wound up in heaven. Or something.
As promised, I am sharing with you the good (Wasabi Ginger), the bad (Mango Salsa) and the ugly (the DoUsAFlavor.com website).
Our incredibly scientific and not-at-all-ripped-off-from-a-wine-tasting criteria is as follows. We scored based on the following criteria: Appearance, Aroma, Taste, Finish, and Texture. Each category was worth 5 points for a total of 25.
Spoiler Alert: I can’t spell cappuccino and I’m a huge nerd
The good. The undeniable winner was Wasabi Ginger. While for me, its appearance was sort of blah (the little flecks of flavor feel cheap), the taste and texture were undeniable. Out of the 4 new flavors, these were the only chips that were kettle cooked. For that reason, they were by far the crunchiest. (Crunch = my favorite texture.) They also had the added benefit of being the chips that tasted most like the inspiration. The flavor started heavy on the wasabi and then rounded out with the sweetness of the ginger, with just a hint of spice in the finish. We just kept eating them. (Betcha can’t eat just one!) We quite literally finished the bag in one sitting and I liked them so much that I bought another bag at the grocery store yesterday. #savewasabi
Then, there’s the bad. To call the Mango Salsa artificially, cloyingly sweet would be kind. We started referring to it as a ‘garbage chip’ and we started feeding it to the dog. (YOU’RE WELCOME, FULTON.) We actually threw the bag away. It’s a real shame because mango salsa sounded like it would be the easiest one to accomplish. Plus, chips and salsa are a natural marriage. But the texture was unpleasantly soft, particularly when you compared to the crunch of the kettle cooked Wasabi chips (#savewasabi). The smell was overwhelming and the taste was chemical.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I know that these are standard, regular American potato chips. I’m not pretending these are organic or all natural. This mango salsa spice was created in a lab, not picked from the mango salsa spice tree. But, Kettle Brand potato chips have given us some really authentic chip flavors. So, it’s not impossible.
Beyond that, we were split in our voting. Anna and Kevin really liked the Cappuccino chips. I wasn’t sold. To all of us, they tasted like dessert (my brain: tiramisu, Anna’s brain: sopapillas). But even more than that, it tasted of gas station cappuccino. I couldn’t see eating them with a sandwich. Chips are the sidekick to sandwiches, so…
Bacon Mac and Cheese was heavy on the cheese, light on the bacon, and the mac wasn’t anywhere to be seen. This was a standard, cheesy chip. Would’ve been greatly improved by a thicker, kettle cooked texture.
So, the ugly. The Lay’s Do Us a Flavor website. Hoo boy. First things first. You can vote on the site, but ONLY if it links to your Facebook. All three of us opted to text our votes in. Because how embarrassing would it be if I voted for the Wasabi chips EVERY DAY for the next 66 days. (But #savewasabi, y’all.) But the weirdest part is that both the “Flavor Reviews” and “Flavor News” sections link to aggregated pictures from FB and Twitter using the Save Flavor hashtags. The #savewasabi hashtag (et al) aggregates to the Flavor Reviews section. And the #dousaflavor hashtag aggregates to the news section. I realize I’m being overly critical here, but very rarely are the #savewasabi comments more than that. I’d be hard pressed to call them reviews. Even more hard pressed to consider the photos of other chip tastings “news.”
In the end, I think the experiment is worth it. Only good comes from this. Except for the Mango Salsa chips.