Ranked! Top 10 (ok all 14) Lays Do Us a Flavors

Over years there have been forteen offerings from the popular Lays Do Us a Flavor contest. We give the top ten, score them, and rank it all here based on flavor, originality, and accuracy to its namesake flavor (1-10 in each category for a maximum score of 30).  We will note that that none of them would be considered superior (or even in the ballpark) with old favorites like BBQ and sour cream and onion.  Still, we at Hungry Dads love the experimentation and drama of Lays Do Us a Flavor and are anxious for 2016.  And the rankings are:

ny Rube(Dis-Honorable Mention / #14) – New York Rueben (’15 finalist)– This chip was a fairly accurate portrayal of its namesake sandwich, which is exactly why it was a failure.  It featured pungent notes of rye bread and pickled kraut.  These are not broadly beloved flavors – and are offensive scents to anybody who is not a fan. This chip was stinky (like New York perhaps?) to the point of bathing the eater’s fingers and breath in its stench.  Making a sandwich into a chip is somewhat novel, but hardly an inspiration.

  • Flavor: 2
  • Originality: 6
  • Accuracy of flavor 8
  • Total: 16



cheese garlic

#13 – Cheesy Garlic Bread (’13 winner) – This chip was tasty – so why would it be so lowly ranked?   Lack of originality.  We believe that the purpose of the Do Us a Flavor contest was to add a new and unique flavors to the pantheon of potato chip through the democratic process.  Cheese? Garlic?  Nothing new there. Been there. Done that.  Electing Cheesy Garlic Bread as the 2013 winner was right in line with America’s penchant for electing and reelecting various Adamses, Bushes (and perhaps Clintons) as our presidents. That may or not be okay for the leader of the free world.  But in potato chip elections, we won’t settle for the same old, same old.

  • Flavor: 8
  • Originality: 2.5
  • Accuracy of flavor: 6
  • Total: 16.5

gyro#12: Greektown Gyro (’15 finalist)– This flavor was right up there with New York Ruben in the stinky category and it was arguably contrary to the 2015 “Taste of America” theme.  However we cut it some slack since America truly is a melting pot.  Still, this chip wasn’t great.  One of the few redeeming qualities was the kettle cooked style.  The similarity to an actual gyro was decent, but the complex flavor of a gyro flavor is best offered in an actual gyro.  On a chip, it seemed out of place and uncanny.

  • Flavor: 2
  • Originality: 8
  • Accuracy of flavor: 7
  • Total: 17



mango (2)#11: Wavy Mango Salsa (’14 finalist) – We hoped to like this unique flavor more. It was a good attempt into the sweet/salty spectrum, but ultimately a pretty big failure in the flavor department.  The mango was overstated and very artificial tasting, like they dipped these chips in Kool Aide.

  • Flavor: 2.5
  • Originality: 9
  • Accuracy of flavor: 6
  • Total: 17.5 


#10. Fried Green Tomato (’17 Finalist) – A good idea.  It’s sufficiently unique, but not wacky.  The challenge here was harnessing a flavor that’s (a) not terribly well-known and (b) not particularly distinctive.   Note that the image on the bag has a sauce on the top of the fried tomato. That mystery sauce gives Lays license to flavor the chip however they want, I suppose. Well, they decided to flavor it like black pepper.  Lots of black pepper taste in there.  It’s a bit like a salt and pepper chip, but with more pepper.  Any green tomato taste was lost on us.  A good tasting chip to be sure. But even with the power of suggestion, Fried Green Tomato doesn’t really proffer its namesake flavor.

Flavor: 8.25

Originality: 8

Accuracy of flavor: 1.5

Total:  17.75

#9. Everything Bagel with Cream Cheese (’17 Finalist) – An intuitive idea that I’m surprised hasn’t been tried before in a mainstream chip.  Not exactly the triple lindy for Lays flavor chemists though. Which is to say that everything bagels, while tasty, are driven by salt, garlic, onion, and poppy seeds – all flavors you can easily just pour onto some potato chips. So to increase the challenge they add, “with cream cheese.” Okay. Yeah. The cream cheese is there in there, resulting in a tasty, albeit non-daring entry into the Lays contest.

Flavor: 7

Originality: 5.25

Accuracy of flavor:  6

Total: 18.25

 sirach#8: Sirracha (’13 finalist) – There are going to be Sirracha devotees who will be frustrated by the low ranking here.   To be clear, there is nothing wrong with the chip.  Is fine.  If you like hot chips, this one serves honorably.  But really, a hot chip is a flavor that we’ve gotten in a thousand forms already.  If anything, these chips didn’t leave enough room for the unique flavor aspects in Sirracha, leaving them comparatively bland.

  • Flavor: 7.33
  • Originality: 4
  • Accuracy of flavor: 7
  • Total: 18.33 

bacon mac#7: Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese (’14 finalist)– Of course it was tasty. Solid hint of bacon, but as with Cheesy Garlic Bread, this hardly a new taste sensation.  Cheese and bacon are well worn chip flavors.  That said, Hungry Dad Rod Budget felt it has staying power and voted for it, believing it offered potential a long-lasting relationship.

  • Flavor: 9
  • Originality: 2
  • Accuracy of flavor: 7.5
  • Total: 18.5

capp#6: Cappuccino (’14 finalist)– The strong ranking here is bound to be controversial, but we stand by it. The Cappuccino flavor gets top points for originality. The Hungry Dads’ live taste test revealed a lot of crunching, notes of cinnamon, and a realization that the chips were more sweet than salty. Hugh, a coffee drinker, did not taste much coffee. Rod, not a coffee lover, tasted the coffee more distinctly. They both enjoyed Cappuccino and (unsurprisingly) declared that they would be eating the whole bag. In the end, Hugh voted for Cappuccino as it was both unique and delicious.

  • Flavor: 7
  • Originality: 10
  • Accuracy of flavor: 2
  • Total: 19

truff#5: West Coast Truffle Fries (’15 finalist) – Undoubtedly tasty and hitting the right note of truffle (too much truffle flavor does something weird to our tongues).  These are like the fancy version of sour cream and onion that nobody asked for (since sour cream and onion is already delicious). Decent, but this uppity, metropolitan flavor doesn’t speak to the core potato chip community in the heart of America.

  • Flavor: 7
  • Originality: 6
  • Accuracy of flavor: 7
  • Total: 20

#4: Crispy Taco (’17 Finalist) – Hugh hates that this one is so highly ranked because the idea is so uninspired (no offense to the person who pitched it).  Hugh has always wanted this contest to offer something entirely new, but also viable.  Taco flavored chips are old hat – mostly in the tortilla space, but it’s also a well tread road in potato chips.  But ‘ole Crispy Taco makes up ground with its tastiness. And even more so in accuracy of flavor.  You may say that it’s nothing too impressive to hit a taco flavor – just shake a packet of Ortega Taco Seasoning on a chip and there you have it.  Can’t argue with ya.  So what the heck is so impressive about Lays Crispy Taco? The “crispy,” you fool!  This POTATO chip, gives off a pitch perfect hard shell CORN tortilla flavor (a corn flavored potato chip is, admittedly, not unheard of). It melds perfectly with the eponymous taco seasoning. Then, your brain is in full taco mode and you start picking up tomato and lettuce. Lettuce! In a chip? What?  Okay, the lettuce might be power of suggestion. But Lays sparked my flavor imagination here.  I usually complain about gimmick flavors that taste too much like its namesake – it can by spooky and unsettling. But here, Crispy Taco managed to claw its way to the other side of the uncanny valley of flavor.

Flavor: 9

Originality: 1.5

Accuracy of flavor 9.75

Total: 20.25

bisq Grav#3: Southern Biscuits and Gravy (’15 winner)–Here was an above average Do Us a Flavor chip across the board.  We’d never seen anything like it, so points on originality.  But it’s not so unique that it’s crazy or off-putting.   The flavor was pretty good overall but not as tasty as standard favorites – BBQ, Sour Cream and Onion.  The accuracy of flavor was also pretty solid – it was mostly a “salt and pepper” chip, but with a creamy note that evoked gravy.  The Hungry Dads predicted its victory and espoused a theory that this “rural flavor” would win because middle America wasn’t going to go for the “urban flavors” offered by the 2015 competition.

  • Flavor: 7
  • Originality: 7
  • Accuracy of flavor: 7
  • Total: 21

wasabi#2: Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger (’14 winner)– The Chief Snacks Officer of the venerable Taquitos.net gave this flavor high marks, feeling that it had an excellent wasabi flavor – something he wouldn’t have expected from a mainstream chip company like Lays.  Like the Truffle Fries, this was a flavor that speaks to people on the coasts more than the heart of chip buying America. But it was good enough to “officially” win the 2014 contest.  That said, looking at store shelf space and longevity, it’s clear that the real seller that year (and in the months following) was Cheddar Bacon Mac. Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger’s win was an obvious disconnect between the democratic voting process and the market driven capitalism process.  It may have won by vote, but there is every indication that its sales were lackluster as compared to a more universally loved bacon flavor.

  • Flavor: 7.5
  • Originality: 5
  • Accuracy of flavor: 9
  • Total: 21.5

chick waff#1: Chicken and Waffles (’13 finalist) – Some are going to balk at Chicken and Waffles’ overall having #1 ranking, but it was a tasty and completely unique new flavor to be added to the pantheon of flavors.  It had a hint of sweetness that actually worked.  Alas, it lost to Cheesy Garlic Bread in the contest. A travesty in our mind and a sign of the electorate’s lack of forward thinking. It seems like a gimmick flavor – and it was – but of the three, was the best UNIQUE new flavor and it was pretty darn tasty in its own right.

  • Flavor: 7
  • Originality: 9
  • Accuracy of flavor: 6
  • Total: 22