REVIEW: Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Southern Biscuits and Gravy Potato Chips

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Southern Biscuit and Gravy Potato Chips

I’m an Italian kid from the Northeast, so when I hear “gravy” I think of that brown stuff you put on turkey, not the white sausage based stuff popular in the South. I also never, I repeat, never think of red sauce you put on macaroni as gravy. Anyone who tells you that’s “gravy” is certifiable. Sauce with meat is not gravy. You are wrong. Stop being wrong. You’re probably right. Who the heck knows?

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Southern Biscuit and Gravy Potato Chips 2

Lay’s Southern Biscuits and Gravy Potato Chips are the brainchild of Hailey Green from Noblesville, IN. Her idea was based on her “Nonnie’s” homemade biscuits and gravy recipe. So if these stink, I’m putting full blame on Nonnie. Moment of truth, Nonnie. Here goes nothing.

The chips have a nice gravy scent. Is that a thing? A “nice” gravy scent? Has anyone ever said, “Mmmm, this gravy smells fantastic?” There’s a very distinct smell you get when you pop open a bottle of turkey/chicken gravy or open a pouch of dry gravy mix. I’m sure it smells that way when you make any variety of gravy from scratch but…look I’m no Nonnie, I’ve never made gravy from scratch. Pity me.

My first inclination when trying a new chip flavor is to immediately compare it to a flavor I’m familiar with. With these my immediate first impression was that they were a saltier, less potent sour cream and onion. As I munched on, the gravy flavor poked through. It’s definitely there but it takes a little while to build. The flavor really reminded me of something familiar and it took me about 10 more chips to realize what it was — Stove Top Stuffing. After reaching that conclusion, I couldn’t taste anything else.

Ya know what I don’t really like? Stove Top Stuffing. Ya know what I do like? Chips that taste like Stove Top Stuffing. Go figure. Go. I’ll wait.

We good?

I’m not sure what exactly stuffing and biscuits and gravy have in common, save for the starch element and some onion powder, but they are definitely in the same ballpark. I want to say gravy flavoring on potato chips is strange, but who doesn’t like gravy on mashed potatoes? It seems dumb, but once that thought crossed my mind, I really started to enjoy these more. “Thanksgiving Dinner” was one of my contest submissions, and this might be as close as I’ll get.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Southern Biscuit and Gravy Potato Chips 4

I wouldn’t say these chips have a kick, but they are a bit peppery. Each chip is coated with little red, orange, and black specs of spice. You’ll come away feeling like you may have possibly eaten something spicy a while ago and your mouth is still recovering.

As for the biscuit element, there’s a hint of a creamy, buttery flavor, but it’s pretty understated. I kept trying to really separate a biscuit flavor but found it difficult. That seems authentic to me though as the gravy would overpower the biscuit flavor if you were eating the actual dish. Biscuits are delicious, but are also a textural food, so you lose that when converting that flavor to a chip.

Therein “Lay’s” the problem with most of the Do Us a Flavor chips. They don’t so much stand on their own as they just make me really want to eat the food they are copying. Like right now? I want a biscuit. I don’t want any more chips. I gotta have a biscuit. Where’s that little giggly Pillsbury Doughboy bastard when you need him?

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Southern Biscuit and Gravy Potato Chips 3

These are the traditional-style chip, which was a good call on their part. I don’t think they would have been as successful in Wavy form. As I said, I want the softest style chip possible for this flavor. The Greektown Gyro flavor really worked as a kettle chip, but there is almost no chance these would have. When thinking “biscuit,” you don’t want to be crunching down on something that could crack a molar at any given second.

I find the color of the bag aesthetically pleasing, but the image of the actual biscuits and gravy are unappetizing. This is admittedly a nitpick, but annoying people tell me that we “eat with our eyes first,” and that gloppy white stuff just doesn’t look tasty. I was pleasantly surprised these turned out a lot better than the picture led me to believe.

I enjoyed these slightly more than the Gyro chips and I ended up eating half the bag in one sitting. I probably could have kept going but my mouth started to feel like the Sahara and I needed to chug an entire bottle of water. So congrats to Lay’s, the Jelly Belly of potato chips, for another successful flavor foray.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz – 160 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Southern Biscuits and Gravy Potato Chips
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 7.75 oz bag
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: They go down easy. Stuffing flavor. Not overpowering. Nice hint of spice. Nonnie finally getting her due. Bag color. Molars intact.
Cons: Masked biscuit flavor. Bag photo. Lay’s constantly denying my submissions. “Gravy” on macaroni. Actual biscuit cravings. Pillsbury Doughboy not being at my beck and call.

REVIEW: Lay’s Do Us a Flavor New York Reuben Potato Chips

Lay’s Do Us a Flavor New York Reuben Potato Chips

At the risk of offending those of you who actually liked the Lay’s Chicken and Waffles Potato Chips, I’m of the mindset that the whole Do Us a Flavor competition has been one of the more impressive fails of snack food marketing over the past few years.

Why do I say that? Well, because I still cringe at the thought of 2013’s aforementioned Chicken and Waffles chips, my taste buds panic whenever I’m around mangos, and I still have a nearly full bag of the Cappuccino chips buried somewhere in my pantry.

Come to think of it, I probably haven’t made it through a full bag combined of the past Do Us a Flavor finalists I’ve tried. Meanwhile, my unquestionably brilliant idea for a chip based on the flavors of a sandwich — Buffalo’s iconic Beef on Weck — has been shot down each of the past three years.

Given my past history with Do Us a Flavor, I was ready to write this year off until I saw the finalist chips. All I can say is, “Nice job, America.” You’ve obviously outgrown your suggestions for flavors that have no business on a potato, and finally thought strategically about the chips you want to eat. You’ve even managed to get another iconic New York sandwich on there — the Reuben.

(Seriously, why don’t more chips taste like sandwiches? Sandwiches are delicious, and everyone likes them. Oh shit. Now that I’ve said that, one you is probably going to suggest we start making Peanut Butter and Jelly flavored potato chips, aren’t you?)

Lay’s Do Us a Flavor New York Reuben Potato Chips 2

The Reuben sets the bar pretty high in terms of sandwich flavors but man do these chips deliver, starting with this distinct caraway and rye smell that emanates from the bag. If you’ve ever been to a good, old-school Jewish deli than you know the smell. The taste is familiar to anyone who’s ever had a Reuben, with strong notes of all those classic pickling spices and the tangy, fermented bite of sauerkraut. It’s a great taste and not the least bit overpowering, giving way to a hint of sweet and acidic tomato and a more potent, but mellow, buttermilk and cheese aftertaste.

It’s really an impressive array of flavors, and one in which every component of the sandwich is represented in one form or another. What’s most striking is that none of the flavors dominates or overtakes another, an important element in a sandwich which such a heavy connotation. If anything, the initial taste of caraway, then sauerkraut, and finally tomato (the Russian dressing) and cheese, mirrors the progression of flavors you’d get when biting into an actual Reuben. Heck, even the crunchy chips have a sort of buttery aftertaste that can’t help bring to mind griddled bread, going a long way to create the flavor of not just sandwich components, but an actual sandwich.

Lay’s Do Us a Flavor New York Reuben Potato Chips 3

More than anything else, these sandwiches chips are downright addictive. There’s nothing which says passing the litmus test of a potato chip’s noshability than reaching into the bag to grab another chip while writing your review, only to discover you’ve just consumed an actual Reuben’s worth of calories in potato chips. If I do have a small gripe it’s that there’s nothing really meaty about the chips. I didn’t get the flavor of the spices that make corned beef, well, corned beef.

Given my disastrous experiences with finalists from the past two years, the Do Us a Flavor promotion could’ve struck out with me this year if they didn’t give me something really good. Fortunately the New York Reuben Chips are really good, even if the Reuben may have actually been invented in Nebraska and not New York. Frankly, I could care less what the truth behind the origins of the sandwich are. I’m just glad I won’t be throwing away another full bag of Do Us a Flavor chips.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz – 150 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 330 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein..)

Item: Lay’s Do Us a Flavor New York Reuben Potato Chips
Purchased Price: $2.48
Size: 7.75 oz bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Finally getting a Do Us a Flavor finalist that I actually want to eat. Caraway and Rye. Awesome sauerkraut and pickling spice flavor. Distinctive taste of Russian dressing and cheese. Crunchy, buttery aftertaste mimics griddled bread. Smells like a straight up Jewish deli.
Cons: Beef flavor in the corned beef is missing. Having to supply your own over-sized kosher pickle. Someone please make me my Beef on Weck flavored potato chips!

REVIEW: Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro Potato Chips

Lay's Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro Potato Chips

I haven’t had a really good gyro in a long time. Am I even saying that right? “Jy-ro”? Or is it “hi-ro?” “Guy-ro?” Meh, whatever, it’s all Greek to me.

*ducks tomatoes*

I’m sure by now you are all familiar with the yearly “Do Us a Flavor” competition Frito-Lay has been running. Last year brought us such favorites as Bacon Mac & Cheese and Cappuc…Bacon Mac & Cheese! It seems this year they decided to go with a theme – Tastes of America. The four finalists are – West Coast Truffle Fries (which are Wavy), New York Reuben, Southern Biscuits and Gravy, and the Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro.

My suggestions of “Funnel Cake” and “A Complete Breakfast” were unfortunately declined, which is Grade A hogwash. “Malarkey,” I say. Am I even saying that right?

Tastes of America, huh? I know where the West Coast is. I’ve been to New York and the South. Where the heck is Greektown? I assumed it was in Detroit, but James, the man who submitted the flavor, is from Texas and claims the flavor is inspired by his local gyro place. Let’s see what they’ve got, Jimmy.

Lay's Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro Potato Chips 2

As I tore open the bag, I was hit with a semi-unpleasant but distinct, almost peppery smell. The more I inhaled; I recognized the scent of your standard Greek herbs and spices. These chips do indeed smell like a gyro.

The immediate taste of the first chip was off-putting. That, combined with the smell, had me ready to chalk these up as a loser, but the more I chewed the more the taste improved. Greektown Gyro chips actually ended up having a pretty complex and layered flavor.

The first thing I pinpointed was the “zing” of Tzatziki sauce. This is not a flavor new to Frito-Lay. “Greek Tzatziki” was one of the finalists in Canada’s “Do Us a Flavor” competition last year, so I was ready to write these off as a lazy rip off. But that’s when the other flavors started to hit my tongue.

I definitely tasted the lamb/beef/mystery meat flavor in these chips. The same spices you’re used to in your gyro meats were definitely used to coat these chips.

Lay's Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro Potato Chips 3

I have to say, it’s actually impressive that I could breakdown multiple flavors if I focused on them. I definitely got some faint tomato and onion flavor, and I actually think there is even a little lingering cucumber in the aftertaste, but that’s probably just part of the Tzatziki. Feta is one of the standard ingredients in most gyros I’ve had, but I couldn’t really pick that out. It could possibly be thrown in there in some way, but there doesn’t appear to be any cheese element in the ingredient list.

Also, I thought the kettle cooked texture was perfect for this flavor. I don’t think these would be nearly as good as a normal potato chip. That extra crunch really enhances the experience.

So to answer the million dollar question, “Do they taste like a gyro?” Yeah, sure, I think they do. If I was blindfolded I honestly think I would be able to narrow it down to that flavor. But let’s get one thing straight, when it comes to gimmicky potato chips like these, you always need to take the flavor they are trying to imitate with a grain of salt – or in this case 7.7 mg of sodium per chip. Did you guys know there is a calculator app on your phone?! What an age we live in!

I’m not gonna sit here and declare these the winner until I try the other three flavors. The voting is open until October, so you have plenty of time to track them all down and do whatever hashtag Twitter voting I’m sure they’ll set up. Just going off the other flavors, I think this one might have a really good shot at winning. But let’s be real; you’ll probably see all of them on the shelves even after the voting ends. I still see Sriracha on shelves and that wasn’t a winner.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz. – 150 calories, 80 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 1 gram of sugars, 2 grams of protein, 2% iron, and 10% vitamin C.)

Item: Lay’s Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro Potato Chips
Purchased Price: $2.68
Size: 8 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Gyros getting their due. Layers of flavor. Tzatziki sauce. Great kettle cooked crunch. Do us a Flavor competition.
Cons: Smell. Greece’s current economic state. Kind of a rehashed flavor. “A Complete Breakfast” denial. Bag confusion. Where is Greektown?

REVIEW: Limited Edition Lay’s Wavy Dark Chocolate Covered Potato Chips

Limited Edition Lay's Wavy Dark Chocolate Covered Potato Chips

If you look at the Limited Edition Lay’s Wavy Dark Chocolate Covered Potato Chips, you might think this review is easy to write. The dark chocolate and potato chips combination looks like a slam dunk, and I could write an entire review using these seven words:

“These are awesome. Go get some…NOW!”

And then after hitting “Publish,” I pick up my keyboard, drop it onto the floor, make an explosion motion with my hands as I say “BOOM”, and walk away from my desk bobbing my head to a beat in my mind and with each hand held up high with the number one sign.

Since this review is already much longer than those seven words, you’ve probably assumed that I don’t think these dark chocolate covered potato chips are awesome. They aren’t, but they’re good. Not very good, just good.

Last year, I wrote the following about the Limited Edition Lay’s Wavy Milk Chocolate Covered Potato Chips:

“Salt plays a huge part in what makes potato chips so addictive, but my taste buds didn’t regularly register any. And for those times I did, it wasn’t as potent as I hoped it would be. I think I can get a more pronounced saltiness on my tongue if I ran in place for 20 seconds and then licked myself.”

Limited Edition Lay's Wavy Dark Chocolate Covered Potato Chips Closeup

Well, I’m happy to say lack of salt wasn’t an issue with the new Limited Edition Lay’s Wavy Dark Chocolate Covered Potato Chips. According to the computer generated picture on the front of its packaging, it’s got what slugs hate. Salt. There weren’t large grains of sea salt on mine, but most times it tasted like there were. Actually, there were times when when these chocolate covered Lay’s Wavy chips were disturbingly salty, like waves in the ocean.

Another issue I had with the milk chocolate version of the chips was how the flavor of the potato chip got lost in the chocolate. I thought the salt might help the potato chip flavor pop a little bit more, but it didn’t. Although, the salt did help the dark chocolate pop a little bit more.

Just like last year’s milk chocolate covered chips, these come in a 5-ounce bag. If you’re wondering how many chips that equals to, here’s a photo.

Limited Edition Lay's Wavy Dark Chocolate Covered Potato Chips Contents

For most of the chips, the decent tasting dark chocolate covers only one side, which was the case with last year’s chips. It’s a thick layer of chocolate, which gives each chip a nice heft. Even with that thick layer, the potato chip underneath still lets out a hearty crunch.

I know it reads like I’m super down on these Limited Edition Lay’s Wavy Dark Chocolate Covered Potato Chips, but I really did like them. They are tasty and I love the crunch, but they don’t blow my mind because those bursts of salt were a bit weird to me and the balance between potato chip and chocolate leans way too heavily on the chocolate side.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz/about 3 chips – 160 calories, 90 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Limited Edition Lay’s Wavy Dark Chocolate Covered Potato Chips
Purchased Price: $3.99*
Size: 5 oz. bag
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Good. It’s potato chips in frickin’ chocolate. Lay’s decided to make a dark chocolate version. This time I could taste salt. Salt helps dark chocolate pop more. Chips still have a hearty crunch.
Cons: Not awesome. At times, the chips were disturbingly salty. Potato chip flavor is hardly noticeable. Nutrition facts are for only three chips. Not something I would eat as often as regular potato chips. Some might think $3.99 is pricey for what you get.

*Desperate to buy these, I had to get them from eBay. I paid $26 for three bags. No, $26 is not a typo. The $3.99 is the retail price that the person who sold me the chips probably paid.

REVIEW: Lay’s Kettle Cooked Tzatziki Potato Chips (Canada)

Lay’s Kettle Cooked Tzatziki Potato Chips (Canada)

The whole theme of the Do Us A Flavour contest seems to be off-kilter flavours that you wouldn’t otherwise see — going through the various participating countries, this year there’s stuff like Chip Shop Chicken Curry, Cappuccino, and Cinnamon Bun.

Tzatziki chips sound a bit odd at first, but really, condiments and dips are a bedrock of classic chip flavours: e.g. BBQ, ketchup, ranch, and this flavour’s closest cousin, sour cream and onion.

Still, I can’t say that I’d ever tried a tzatziki-flavoured chip, so I was kind of excited to try it.

The first thing that hit me when I opened the bag: the smell. Resting somewhere in the scent spectrum between old cauliflower and a moderately ripe sweat sock, it wasn’t an aroma that filled me with a ton of confidence.

Thankfully, I can say with a great deal of confidence that it is much, much better than it smells.

It’s actually surprisingly good. Like the Do Us A Flavour variety I just reviewed, Cinnamon Bun, it does a really great job of replicating the taste of the thing it’s supposed to be. Unlike that one, however, this is a flavour that you’d actually want on a potato chip.

It starts with an addictive tart, lemony yogurt flavour, with the dill and cucumber coming through a few moments after you start eating it. It ends with a lingering punch of garlic that really drives home the tzatziki flavour.

Lay’s Kettle Cooked Tzatziki Potato Chips (Canada) Closeup

It tastes, in a lot of ways, like a kicked up sour cream and onion, but with the flavours intensified and broadened. I’ve never been a huge fan of that flavour, but this one I liked a fair deal.

It’s not subtle, however. What’s the exact opposite of subtle? Because that’s what these chips are. It’s an intense, face-punch of flavour, so don’t expect to taste anything else for the next little while. In fact, even removing the smell from my fingers was challenging; I had to wash pretty thoroughly with soap two or three times before my hands smelled normal.

Tzatziki is the only one of the four Canadian Do Us A Flavour varieties that’s made with kettle chips, which was a wise choice by Lay’s. The thinner, more delicate regular chips would get completely steamrolled by the aggressive tzatziki taste. The kettle chips, however, do a pretty decent job of standing up to the other flavours.

Ultimately, though the chips are probably a bit too intense to be something you’d want to add to your regular snacking rotation, it’s pretty darn good if you’re in the mood. If you like tzatziki and you like chips, then it’s not even a question. You’ll like these chips.

(Nutrition Facts – 50 grams/per 28 chips – 260 calories, 15 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 340 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fibre, 1 gram of sugar, 3 grams of protein.)

Item: Lay’s Kettle Cooked Tzatziki Potato Chips (Canada)
Purchased Price: $3.69 CAN
Size: 180 gram bag
Purchased at: Longos
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Captures the tzatziki flavour perfectly. Addictive. Kettle chips hold up well to the very aggressive flavour.
Cons: Getting punched in the face with flavour. Lingering aftertaste. Sweat sock aroma.