Every year, Frito-Lay holds a Lay’s Do Us A Flavor contest, where people from all over the US submit their original flavors for a chance for their idea being actualized as a real chip and sold nationally–plus winning $1 million. The four finalists for 2014 were Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese, Wavy Mango Salsa, Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger and Cappuccino. I guess curiosity got the best of me, and I had to get a hold of all of these flavors to try them out.
Here are the initial reactions from myself, my friends and some of the other Spoon University at Berkeley members.
Wavy Mango Salsa
Despite high hopes for what could have been a wonderful idea – imagine, salsa and chips all in one bite! – this flavor seemed to be poorly executed. This particular flavor received contrasting reviews; some people enjoyed it, and some, like me, ranked it as the worst. As soon as you put these chips in your mouth, the artificial scent of an unidentifiable tropical fruit hits you like a blow to the face. The problem is that this almost floral smell is so overwhelming that it does nothing to complement the other savory flavorings on the chip. In my opinion, it just tasted like a disaster where a potato walked into a candy factory and accidentally blew up the whole place.
“This reminds me of shampoo. Like those kids shampoos that smell real fruity.” – Sarun, UC Berkeley Student
“These taste like freaking Jolly Ranchers. Or Skittles.” – Mallory, UC Berkeley Student
Seriously, who thought it was a good idea to put coffee and potato chips together? Expectedly, the result is not very pretty. They got the smell of the cheap instant coffee down pat, but it’s a confusing ride for your taste buds once the potato starts kicking in. I initially thought that this was the worst flavor, but surprisingly, the flavor kind of grows on you. Nevertheless, I hope America has learned that dusting everything with cinnamon and sugar is not always the answer.
“This is an abomination.” – Sarun, UC Berkeley Student (These were also my first words upon tasting them.)
“I can definitely smell the coffee; it’s like a scratch-and-sniff.” – Elizabeth, Editor-in-Chief of Spoon University at Berkeley
Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese
This flavor was not terrible, but it just didn’t have anything unique to offer to the table. Many tasters said that they wouldn’t be surprised if this were a flavor that already existed. A little bit of barbecue, a little bit of bacon and plenty of sharp cheddar – but nothing special.
“This makes the most sense as a chip.” – Jocelyn, Photo Director of Spoon University at Berkeley
“It’s a pretty standard flavor, doesn’t really stand out.” – Kevin, UC Berkeley Student
Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger
This flavor is the winning flavor of the year, and it is not surprising why as it was almost everyone’s favorite by a mile. It was the most accurate in terms of providing the experience of the flavors it’s supposed to imitate – nice punchy wasabi at first bite and a strong, pickled, ginger aftertaste, all held together by the crunchy kettle-cooked texture. This one’s a clear winner, and I’m glad that we’ll be seeing these again on the supermarket shelves.
“They totally nailed the flavor.” – Adrian, Business Director of Spoon University at Berkeley
Now, what flavor would you want to see as a chip?