Taste Testing the New Lay's Potato Chip Flavors

by Kelly Senyei, Epicurious

We get to taste a lot of inventive and enticing foods on any given day in the Epicurious office, so when a box of the new Lay's Potato Chips flavors arrived this week, my "I'll-try-anything-once" mantra encouraged me to start snacking.

The chips are part of Lay's "Do Us a Flavor" campaign, which asked consumers to submit their dream potato chip flavors. Out of 3.8 million submissions, Lay's narrowed it down to three finalists: Cheesy Garlic Bread, Chicken & Waffles, and Sriracha. The chips are available nationwide, and the creator of whichever flavor receives the most fan votes will win $1 million or 1 percent of their flavor's 2013 net sales (whichever is higher).

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My strategy was simple: Start with what I anticipated to be the most mild flavor, Cheesy Garlic Bread, work my way toward the Chicken and Waffles, and leave the seemingly potent Sriracha flavor as the finale. And so, without further ado, the results:

Cheesy Garlic Bread: Tearing open the bag, I anticipated a whiff of garlic or cheese. Neither aroma wafted my way. The flavor was very bland and almost nondescript. If you'd handed me one of the chips and asked me the flavor, I would have guessed onion or chive, not cheese, not garlic, and definitely not bread. The flavor wasn't off-putting, it just wasn't bold enough to merit a name like "Cheesy Garlic Bread."

Chicken & Waffles: The questions started swirling in my mind long before I even opened the bag. How do you get fresh chicken flavor onto a chip? Is there such a thing as chicken powder? And is syrup included? Or perhaps they intended these to be like the tortilla chip of the guacamole world, with consumers serving them alongside a bowl of maple syrup. All of my questions were answered in the first bite. The chips are sweet, very sweet. I didn't taste any presence of waffles, although there was a faint chicken flavor. In the words of my fellow editor, "They're kind of not that bad ... kind of."

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Sriracha: The Sriracha chips delivered big flavor and a big aroma from the second I opened the bag. And true to form, these chips are spicy. My first thought was to that of a similar-tasting mesquite barbecue chip, but with a bit more bite. They were definitely the most appetizing of the bunch.

My vote? While my gut reaction is to vote for the Sriracha flavor, the taste was too similar to spicy barbecue chips. Chicken & Waffles is out of the question, because the chip has an identiy crisis. Is it savory? Is it sweet? Would I eat them with my sandwich or my ice cream sundae? So by default, my vote goes to Cheesy Garlic Bread. It's not the most bold of the flavors, but I think it'll satisfy most consumers' cheesy chip cravings.

If you could create your ultimate potato chip, what flavor would you choose?

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