On paper, all three finalist flavors in Lay’s 2017 “Do Us A Flavor” potato chip contest—Crispy Taco, Fried Green Tomato and Everything Bagel—sound pretty delicious. But until science makes words edible, we’re forced to eat actual potato chips in order to determine this year’s winner.
It’s the fifth year of Lay’s annual potato chip competition, in which regular people with no formal snackology training are asked to come up with their own unique flavor combination. After a lengthy submission process, which involves a lot of me snickering and submitting flavors like Ground Glass and Mice, Lay’s sifts through the entries, putting three or four of the best into production. Once the chips hit store shelves, it’s time for the snacking public to vote to determine which flavor reigns supreme. The winner gets a million dollars, which they will doubtlessly use to purchase a monkey (haven’t you always wanted a monkey?)
Past “Do Us A Flavor” competitions have been pretty close. This year’s, not so much. Check out the video atop the post to see the judging process in action, or just keep on reading.
Lay’s Kettle Cooked Everything Bagel with Cream Cheese
Poppy and sesame seeds, onion, garlic and salt make for a really tasty bagel, especially when it’s warm and sandwiching a substantial smear of cool cream cheese. How can a potato chip, kettle cooked or otherwise, hope to evoke that experience?
It can’t. There is no cool cream cheese or warm bagel here. There’s the traditional blend of spices and seeds, but it creates a dull, uniform experience. Biting into an actual everything bagel is an adventure. Maybe you get a whole lot of onion, or a big hit of salt, or an extra-dense patch of poppy seeds. That doesn’t happen here.
As for the cream cheese, the effect is more on the sour cream side. There are plenty of sour cream and spice chips out there. This is another one.
Lay’s Wavy Fried Green Tomato
The heart is in the right place here. As an Atlanta resident, I am intimately familiar with breaded and fried green tomatoes. The crunch, the tang. I like mine with a little goat cheese crumbled on top (props to the Flying Biscuit). It’s a glorious combination of tastes and textures. A combination Lay’s potato chip version doesn’t quite get.
The chips taste fine. There’s a nice savory fried thing going on, and the hint of tomato that is present is quite pleasant. But if you gave me these chips without telling me what they were, there’s no way I’d guess fried green tomato.
Lay’s Crispy Taco
Here’s the no-brainer of the bunch. Companies have been making taco-flavored chips for ages. Just sprinkle a packet of taco seasoning in the bag and you’re done, right? Not in this case.
Beef. I was not prepared for a potato chip that so accurately recreated the taste of taco seasoned meat. Not just the seasonings themselves, but the meat, a hint of lettuce, a little cheese and tomato and a dash of sour cream.
I was not ready for Lay’s Crispy Taco chips. Just look at my face.
That is not the face of a man disgusted. It is the face of expecting one thing in your mouth and getting a different thing. After my initial shock—once I expected the meat taste—these chips are actually very tasty. See the in-bag images back there? Note that you can only see the bottom of one of the bags. That’s the power of Lay’s Crispy Taco.
Also very glad they didn’t go with soft tacos. That would have been weird.
The Winner: Lay’s Crispy Taco
Here’s the official contest submission of Crispy Taco creator Ellen Sarem of San Antonio, Texas.
“My fiancé loves crunchy beef tacos more than anything. I actually made them for one of our first dates, and after three years, I can now finally say that I’ve mastered cooking his favorite dish!”
Here’s hoping the voting public tastes the same way as I do, so Ellen never has to spend nearly a third of a decade mastering putting meat and cheese in a shell again.