For the second year in a row, I have done you a flavor and taste tested the four finalists in the annual Lay's Do Us a Flavor weird chip contest so you don’t have to. (Although you really should. It’s fun.)
The four flavors – Southern biscuits and gravy, New York Reuben, Greektown gyro and West Coast truffle fries – have just hit stores in the last couple of days. I found all four on Friday morning at the Walgreen’s and Central and West. Last year, I saw the chips in QuikTrip stores, too.
This afternoon, my colleagues and I dug in and analyzed the flavors, and most of us preferred the truffle fries. We have a good track record, too. Last year, my fellow taste testers and I correctly chose the eventual winner, wasabi ginger, over mango salsa, cappuccino and bacon mac-n-cheese. (You also can see a video I made of the taste test in action.)
The flavors were dreamed up by creative chip eaters, who submitted their ideas earlier this year. The Frito Lay folks picked their four favorites and developed them. Now, they're asking the public to help them decide which one to keep. Snackers can vote for their favorite once a day starting Monday until Oct. 18. The person who submitted the winning flavor idea gets a $1 million grand prize.
This is the third year the company has put on the contest. The first year, the winner was cheesy garlic bread.
Here’s a rundown of what we thought:
Southern biscuits and gravy: This idea was submitted by Hailey Green, a travel agent out of Noblesville, Ind., and it was fair to partly decent. The chip is thin, like an original Lay’s chip, and tastes vaguely of the sage that flavors most sausages. Although they weren’t bad and the flavor was fairly accurate, the chips made most testers wish they were eating actual biscuits and gravy. Verdict: A perfect snack before brunch – or linner.
Kettle Cooked Greektown gyro: A few people thought these chips, invented by James Wagner of Wichita Falls, Texas, were palatable, but more often, testers were reaching for trash cans or violently shaking their heads “no.” The smell is pungent, and the flavor is, too. They’re definitely the most in-your-face of the chips and bring to mind the tzatziki sauce often served on the side of gyros. As one tester said, “chips should not taste like meat.” These are made kettle style, which is thicker and crunchy. Verdict: A big fat Greek uh-uh.
New York Reuben: DuBois, Pa., restaurant manager Jeff Solensky submitted this idea, and the result is a thin chip that possesses the pungency of sour kraut but not the flavor. They’re actually surprisingly mild but don’t taste much like a Reuben at all. Verdict: All the bitterness of sour kraut without the fiber.
West Coast Truffle Fries: Angie Fu of Irvine, Calif., came up with this flavor, and it’s the most natural. Truffle oil tastes good on potato products, as the truffle fry trend has clearly demonstrated. This flavor also is fried onto a wavy chip, giving it the best texture too. And duck fat is listed as an ingredient on the bag, so you know they’re going to be good. Verdict: It might lose to sentimental favorite biscuits and gravy, but this is the champion chip.
So there you have it. It's West Coast truffle fries followed by biscuits and gravy for us. Take the taste test yourself and see what you think. You can vote at http://www.dousaflavor.com starting Monday.