Lays Passport to Flavor

After 2015’s “Taste of America,” Lays is going global with four new flavors that will make you curious enough to buy them, even if chips aren’t on your family-friendly, health-focused shopping list.

This time Lays is thrusting the flavors upon us, with no plea for fans to “Do [them] a Flavor” and submit ideas. It’s just as well. It seemed like a scam anyway – how could these Hungry Dad submissions not have taken a spot in the winner’s circle?

We’ve covered Lays non-traditional chip flavors plenty. And we got our hands on this new crop.* Spanning the globe, our “Lays Passport to Flavor” are:

tzkiki chip copyGreek Tzatziki – Verdict:  Good. Like sour cream and onion with Greek flair.  Here, Lays took an old flavor, “Greektown Gyro,wavy bag” and peeled back the other flavors (meat, onion) to focus on the tzatziki. Tzatziki was prominent in 2015’s Greektown Gyro chip, and it’s very familiar here (Lays must’ve had a few tons of the flavoring left over).  The cucumber flavor is back but not overbearing.  If you like a hint of cucumber, then you’ll like this chip. And you can wash it down with some cucumber Gatorade.

Baz Pic chipBrazilian Picanha – Verdict: Tasty. Perhaps a little too savory with the steak & chimichurri sauce. I’ve probably had Brazilian Picanha with chimichurri, or something like it (parsley, minced garlic, oregano, vinegar).  But I haven’t eaten it enough to have a solid frame of reference for judgement against an artificially flavored chip.  These pic bag copy were tasty. Although, as with another chip we reviewed, Picanha may suffer from a lack of sweetness that often compliments a savory chip like this.  (Most junk food – even non-sweets – have more sugar in them than you think).  Still, Picanha is good.  I will happily finish the bag, which is something I can’t always say (lookin’ at you NY Rueben).  It’s also worth noting that the steak taste came out after a side-by-side taste test next to the chicken flavor (below).

schez chipChinese Szechuan Chicken Verdict: Little spice. Little sweet. Second best of the bunch.  schez bagThese bring a little zing (very little – they aren’t “hot.”), and a little bit of sweetness to compliment the spice.  They don’t taste exactly like Szechuan Chicken, which is good because I do not enjoy the uncanny valley of flavor that occurs when chips too closely mimic their namesake flavor.  I also like these chips aesthetically for some reason.  They are orange, but lighter in hue than BBQ chips, with colorful little speckles that feel exotic. And as noted above, there was a distinct chicken taste, at least when compared head-to-head to the beef flavor of the Picanha chip.

IMG_1437Indian Tikka Masala – Verdict: Excellent.  The hype is legit . This one is getting good buzz as the best of the four; which is perhaps the reason why we had trouble getting our hands on some,  Maybe Indian Tikka Masala chips are flying off the shelves faster than the proverbial bowel movements often created by their namesake. (Sorry folks. Couldn’t resist.) But we got ’em* and this is easily the tastiest of the four. Its also probably one of the best gimmick flavors that Lays has rolled out from their various campaigns. At first bite, you might think its just a barbecue variant. It sort of is. But you will quickly notice that Tika Masala succeeds in the rare feat of both mimicking a flavor and tasting appropriate on a chip. It’s got the spice you want (but not heat) and even evokes a creaminess ala the Indian dish from which it is derived. Kettle style is always a hit.  And visually, Tika Masala is gorgeous with colorful spices like fireworks over a crispy orange sky.

Note the rare "quad fold" on the left. True story: I saved this one and gave it to my wife for her birthday.

Note the rare “quad fold” on the left. True story: I saved this one and gave it to my wife for her birthday.

*Thanks to Hungry Dads correspondent Gary Costello and his lovely wife for procuring and delivering these chips to the Hungry Dads New York studio. Credit too for their insight during the taste test. Read about Gary’s passion project here.