Potato chips only came in a few flavors when I was growing up, and gosh darn it we LIKED it that way. Between Classic, BBQ, Sour Cream & Onion, and maybe Cheddar & Sour Cream (if you were feeling wild), you had access to an array of sweet and savory flavors. What more could you ask for? Well, these days it seems like potato chips have lost their way as a simple snack and have morphed into one big culinary dare.
If you’re unfamiliar with the annual Do Us a Flavor contest from Lay’s chips, congratulations! It’s super gross. People from all around the country go online and propose new potato chip flavors that absolutely should not be potato chip flavors. Voters then weigh-in on which garbage chip would be the least garbage-y. Think I’m exaggerating? Flavors like Chicken & Waffles, New York Reuben, and Cappuccino have all made it to the final round in recent years. Yeah. THOSE WERE THE FINALISTS. What kind of suggestions got knocked out in the first round? Warm oyster? Sidewalk Gum? Mustard Bottle Crust?
This year’s “contest” was re-branded as Passport to Flavor for the Olympics because, you know, the potential for gnarly snack flavors extends far beyond the borders of this great nation! I actually have the four finalists sitting on my desk as I write this, so against my better judgment (and the FDA’s daily recommended sodium intake), let’s give ‘em a shot.
1) Chinese Szechuan Chicken – I’m gonna rename this one “Chinese Restaurant Dish Sponge”. Take every possible flavor from a Chinese restaurant, let it age next to a sink for a couple months, and you’ve this chip nailed down. It’s just sooooooo much going on at once, and none of it is good. 2/10.
2) Brazilian Picanha – I wasn’t quite sure what picanha was to be honest with you. Luckily the back of the bag offers this eccentric description: “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, favor!’” I’ve had Brazilian steak before. It did not taste like this. This tastes like a generic-brand Slim Jim. Eat more than two and you’ll be saying “Minha boca dói!” 3/10.
3) Greek Tzatziki – Okay, this one actually isn’t awful. Unlike the first two flavors, it doesn’t taste like someone is attacking me with a beef bouillon cube. (LESS IS MORE, LAY’S.) This is also the only wavy chip of the four flavors. I prefer wavy chips, so that gives it a bit of a boost. I wouldn’t eat a whole bag, but it’s pretty good. 7.5/10.
4) Indian Tikka Masala – Our CTO Jeremy couldn’t get enough of this flavor and polished off the entire bag yesterday. Don’t worry, he’s still alive somehow. Regardless, I now have to judge this flavor off of .03 ounces of flavor dust at the bottom of the bag. This one seems the most true to what it’s supposed to be because it straight up tastes like tikka masala. I’m not a huge fan of Indian spices, but I can’t hold that against these chips. Considering the accuracy and the fact that Jeremy inhaled the bag like a savage, I’ll give it a 7/10.
So there you have it. Four flavors of chips, two of which were decent, that the world would be completely fine without. I don’t know when potato chips became an all-out assault on the human tongue, but I look forward to the day this salty, beefy trend disappears.