Dining With Denise Neil

We tried the new crazy Lays flavors – yet again – so you don’t have to

They’re spicy. They’re wavy. They’re interesting. And in some cases, they’re just plain wrong.

For the third year in a row, I have done you a flavor and taste tested the four off-the-wall chip flavors released by Lays so you don’t have to. (Although why don’t you? It’s an adventure.)

This years’ flavors– Chinese Szechuan Chicken, Brazilian Picanha, Indian Tikka Masala and Greek Tzatziki– have just hit stores over the last week or so. I found all four last week at a local Walgreen’s.

Journalists will eat anything, so I had no trouble rounding up a cast of taste testers in the newsroom. News reporters Suzanne Perez Tobias, Oliver Morrison, Matt Riedl and Daniel Salazar, as well as gardening writing Annie Calovich and page designer Lynette Abitz, donated their taste buds and offered their insights. Watch the video I’ve attached to see them discussing which of the chips is best, which is worst and which produces the most unacceptable breath.

This year, there’s no contest to determine the best of the strange chips. But those who buy them can enter codes from the bags online for a chance to win trips and other prizes. (I’m already registered to win that trip to San Francisco, so back off, chip fiends.)

Here’s a rundown of each flavor and what we thought:

Brazilian Picanha: Three of the four chip titles include words that are hard to pronounce, and this is one of them. These chips are said to reproduce the flavor of skewer-grilled Brazilan steak topped with chimichurri sauce. Verdict: They look like sour cream and onion but have a bizarre meaty flavor. My panelists refused to award these chips a gold, silver OR bronze chip medal.

Indian Tikka Masala: These kettle-cooked chips are coated with all the spices that give your favorite Indian dishes a flavor, including turmeric and cumin. Verdict: One of my panelists was immediately entranced by the curried aroma that wafted out of the bag. The rest, however, agreed that Indian flavors belong in Indian restaurants, not on snack food.

Greek Tzatziki: The wavy chip of the bunch, the Greek Tzatziki chips have a distinct garlic aroma and also are flavored with dill. Verdict: My panelists picked up on gyro-centric flavors but were split on whether they belonged on a chip.

Chinese Szechuan Chicken: These takeout-inspired chips are flavored with sichuan pepper and have a definite kick to them.. Verdict: This chip was the favorite among both groups of panelists, who said they’d eat them even if they weren’t being coerced.