REVIEW: Lay’s Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger Potato Chips

Lay's Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger Potato Chips

Goddamn, I really wanted to like you. I wanted to praise you to Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You” and tell all my friends how good you were. I patiently waited to open up your bag as you already had me at “Kettle Cooked.” You had me at KETTLE COOKED dammit!!! I love the crunch that quickly shatters into delicious crumbles. Being kettle cooked is the only way to make a potato do that.

I also love wasabi flavored snacks, including that hard to find Lindt chocolate bar. Akin to a big, boisterous and caring aunt who keeps telling you to eat more because you’re so skinny (but you’re not) or how much of a grown man you look in your tie (even in a bolo tie?), wasabi is loud and imposing. It makes its presence known as your nasal flares slightly then tempers down to a sweet cooing.

As for ginger, I love all forms of it except the ubiquitous pickled stuff that comes with sushi. I find the shades that range from the opaque hues of a cadaver to the neon rose on a Hypercolor t-shirt are as awful as the sometimes soapy unpleasant taste pickled ginger imparts. However, I was excited because the vinegary-pickled ginger could play off well as an Asian-tinged Salt & Vinegar chip.

So what went wrong? Was it my high expectations? Was it the excitement of another Lay’s Do Us a Flavor competition? Was it the bourbons and binge viewings of Community? Either way, I was let down in a manner that rivaled the time when my father told the family that my younger brother was his favorite son. Shades of Thanos’ family, I will seek my revenge…eventually.

Lay's Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger Potato Chips Closeup

The flavor, inspired by Meneko Springer McBeth, makes sense and probably on Earth-616, the flavor profile would be as normal as sour cream and onion. A quick read-through of her bio shows she’s as normal as anyone: a married registered nurse with three daughters (presumably cute and well-mannered). She has an “affinity for spicy flavors” and loves sushi. Her fun fact is that “The Clearance Queen” is her nickname because she always hunts down the best bargains. She sounds like someone I could ask the time and not be scared of being maced or threatened with undeserved violence involving an ice pick.

Letting me down is one thing, but why let down nice and normal Meneko Springer McBeth who just wants to find good bargains? Is being budget conscious enough to damn an innocent soul, Lay’s?

I should have known it when I opened the bag, only to smell the roasty and pleasantly fried scent of kettle chips. Don’t misunderstand me, the chips smelled great. But when you’re saying there’s wasabi and it was bereft of the pungent horseradishy blast…well, that let me down a lot. I can only compare it to smelling a grilled thick cut steak with pieces of garlic embedded and you can’t smell any of the aromatics.

If that wasn’t sad enough, besides being seen with your nose in a bag of chips as if you were sniffing a fine cognac, the chips tasted just mundane. I was also glad I bought the small convenience store version because I would likely feed the rest to the ducks and they would get hyperlipidemia.

The bag promised wasabi and ginger, but the wasabi was so faint and the ginger was non-existent. The only prevalent taste I could discern was a soy sauce flavor and the onion powder.

Lay's Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger Potato Chips Closeup 2

I ate a handful Cookie Monster-style to see if the flavors would be stronger. It wasn’t and all I tasted initially was the ghostly vinegar kick that was more like a shuffle. The wasabi was too lazy to even nod a “hey” to me and I believe a thousand Japanese mobsters cut off their index fingers in shame.

The chips did have a well-rounded saltiness to them and the soy sauce gave off a sweetness that channeled the highly sought umami factor. I’m so depressed now that I think I’m just filling up words in this review so it looks like I am actually working instead of being as lazy as the wasabi and ginger in these chips.

I don’t know what Meneko Springer McBeth did to make Lay’s so angry. For God’s sakes, she even reported that she loves spicy foods and all they could eke out was something as spicy as Mr. Rogers eating a banana. I’m torn because I want this flavor to exist, but I don’t want it to win because of the flat flavor Lay’s has given it.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz/about 18 chips – 150 calories, 8 grams of total fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 350 milligrams of potassium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Lay’s Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger Potato Chips
Purchased Price: $1.49
Size: 2 7/8 oz bag
Purchased at: RaceTrac
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: The texture is really nice, crisp with that audible crunch. The sweetness of the soy sauce is nice. Nurses, be kind to them cause’ they work hard and aren’t given a lot of credit, yo. The chips are well seasoned, the goldilocks zone of salt. Earth-616.
Cons: The wasabi couldn’t deliver because it was faint. The ginger couldn’t stand up because it was just as faint. The onion powder and soy sauce overwhelmed the chip. Earth-8101.

REVIEW: Lay’s Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese Potato Chips

Lay's Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese Potato Chips

To my dear Impulsive Buy readers:

I have a bit of a confession to make.

If you’re as attentive to my reviews as my ego likes to imagine you are, you may have noticed my reviews on this site focus 100 percent on sugar. I completely avoid the fast food section. Some of this has to do with the fact that the closest McDonald’s is a half hour excursion, but it also has to do with the fact that I don’t really eat meat.

I know, I am sorry.

I’m definitely not about to get all PETA on anyone, I just never really liked meat and decided the easiest way to get out of eating burnt hamburgers at cookouts was to just give it up. This has worked well, except for one exception. Bacon.

The thing is, most other meats have some form of suitable substitute out there. But bacon is irreplaceable; it’s God’s bookmark. Have you ever tried the horrendous slices of fake bacon that look like the polymer clay art projects I used to make in Girl Scouts?

So instead of giving up bacon, I have spent the last five years hosting brunches so that I can fill my apartment with the smell of bacon fat, “accidentally” eating the veggie dishes that I know have bacon bits in them, and using Bacon Salt far more liberally than I should. I am a fraud, and this is my confessional.

I had high hopes for these Lay’s Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese Potato Chips, since they had the potential to fulfill my bacon cravings without coming across as a complete hypocrite to all those who think I’m a real vegetarian. And while they weren’t as innovative as some of the other flavor submissions I saw, like “Salty Tears of Regret” and “Placenta,” bacon and mac & cheese are both pretty safe flavors in the salty snacks category.

Lay's Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese Potato Chips Bag

After opening the bag, I got a strong whiff of cheddar, and that’s about it. In my first few bites, all I could think about were the cheddar and sour cream chips I used to inhale. Thinking that maybe my palate was lacking its bacon detecting skills, I consulted my roommate in a taste test without letting her know what flavor they were. She too thought they were just cheddar and sour cream. If I really paid close attention, I could detect a slight bacon-y aftertaste. But I can also not identify a single point in my life where I have sat down and mindfully thought about each bite of a chip instead of just chomping on handfuls.

Because I was unconvinced in my first taste of these, I left about half the bag sitting in my room for a week to go back for a second test. And because I am lazy and bad at storing food, I left the bag completely open to go stale. Strangely, on this test, I could detect much more bacon flavor. It may have had something to do with the soft stale chip texture being reminiscent of bacon fat, but I may also just be crazy and searching for a satisfying meatless bacon substitute.

Lay's Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese Potato Chips Closeup

Of all the Do Us a Flavor finalists, Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese is near the top. But I would vote for the Wasabi Ginger instead just because these seem too similar to current offerings.

I dream of an America where we can have the ridiculous assortment of chip flavors that they have overseas. However, I’m not sure if the general consumer is as amped at the thought of salmon teriyaki chips as I am, so I see these easily appealing to the widest audience.

If you know you’re not an adventurous eater, these would be the chips to try. Otherwise, I’d recommend trying all the finalists. You can find them in small bags and you can force your friends to eat the ones you don’t like without telling them what they are. Although they’re pretty mainstream, they’re pretty good. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed for Lay’s Placenta Potato Chips next year.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz/about 15 chips – 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, 320 milligrams of potassium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Lay’s Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese Potato Chips
Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 2 7/8 oz bag
Purchased at: Co-op Food Stores
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Safe flavor. Appealing combo. Finding ways to still secretly get bacon in my life. Flavor intensifies when stale. Forcing your friends to eat gross food without knowing it. Placenta chips of the future.
Cons: Predictable. Taste like cheddar and sour cream chips. Having to eat mindfully and slowly to detect the actual bacon flavor. Fakin’ Bacon.

REVIEW: Lay’s Wavy Mango Salsa Potato Chips

Lay's Wavy Mango Salsa Potato Chips

If Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Cappuccino chips are the crazy flavor, Wasabi Ginger are the Asian flavor, and Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese are the prerequisite meat/cheese/God Bless America comfort food flavor, then what are the Wavy Mango Salsa chips?

A) A chip that renders actual salsa obsolete
B) A chip that packs some potent heat
C) An enjoyable mixture of sweet, spicy, and salty in an unlikely form

The answer?

None of the above.

If anything, the Mango Salsa chips represent the bastardization of the potato for the sake of a social media contest and the limits of even the most advanced forms of flavor alchemy.

The wavy-cut chips have a delightful aroma…if your idea of delightful is a pit bull throwing up daisies in the perfume store. The scent leaves you wondering if you’re about to ingest a fruit, a vegetable, or an exotic plant that might just be poisonous.

Lay's Wavy Mango Salsa Potato Chips Closeup

Unlike Lay’s Cappuccino chips, the Mango Salsa at least appear to have normal seasoning, with specks of red and dull green dotting the ridges in varying patterns. The initial taste of the powder ebbs and flows between unquestionably awful and modestly annoying. It depends on how much seasoning a chip has, as well as your tolerance for cilantro.

If the latter is nonexistent, then I imagine you’ll be feeling a lot like that aforementioned and hypothetical dog in the perfume store. While I usually maintain an agnosticism towards cilantro, the air of the powerful herb was even too much for me on some chips. It also wasn’t properly balanced by a piquant chili pepper flavor one would hope is present in an actual salsa. Instead, the seasoning has an aggressive lime and garlic flavor, followed by a perfume and vague fruit flavor which doesn’t scream tropical, much less mango.

Lay's Wavy Mango Salsa Potato Chips with Mango

Despite being in the flavor’s name, the mango is relegated to a supporting element in the salsa. I can say this with authority because I had ripe mango handy when I sampled the chips. Likewise, the tomato and red pepper flavor you’d expect to find playing important roles in a mango salsa were difficult to detect and nowhere near sweet enough. Instead, they mesh into an acidic and floral essence that will overwhelm taste buds.

Lacking real sweetness, the floral essence collides head-on with the earthy and robust aftertaste of the potato, which attempts to reclaim its natural potato flavor with a metaphorical uppercut against the acidity of the chip seasoning. Ultimately, the potato wins out, but not before a series of confused and competing flavor exchanges which fail to capitalize on a simultaneous salty-sweet synergy we’re all clamoring for.

I enjoyed the Lay’s Wavy Mango Salsa Potato Chips more than the Cappuccino chips because I can sort of envision myself actually dipping and eating these with an authentic mango salsa, as opposed to the Cappuccino chips, which I’m sure would just suck even more if dipped into coffee.

With that said, the Wavy Mango Salsa chips aren’t very good on their own, and prove that a fried Idaho potato is not the place to test chemistry concoctions of maltodextrin and artificial mango flavor.

Next time Lay’s should “Do Us a Flavor” and narrow submissions to taste sensations that actually work.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz/about 15 chips – 150 calories, 90 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 330 milligrams of potassium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Lay’s Wavy Mango Salsa Potato Chips
Purchased Price: $3.00 (on sale)
Size: 9.5 oz bag
Purchased at: Harris Teeter
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Wavy chips have excellent crunch. Good potato aftertaste when you get past the seasoning. Might be tasty when dipped into actual mango salsa.
Cons: Poor execution of tropical mango sweetness. Lacks a spicy element. Seasoning is dominated too much by herbal and acidic flavors. Ruining a perfectly good potato. Dog vomit.

REVIEW: Lay’s Cappuccino Potato Chips

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Cappuccino Potato Chips

There are two types of people in this world. There are those who play it safe and those who do not.

The former group slows down at yellow lights, blots the grease from their pizza, and runs the ball on third and one in Madden. The latter blows through red lights, pours grease from their buddy’s slice of pizza onto theirs, and calls an Annexation of Puerto Rico on fourth and forever.

But none of these actions match up to the ultimate litmus test in living safe or dangerous: choosing which Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Chips to buy.

Last year, I faced danger with Lay’s Chicken and Waffles Potato Chips. But, despite my awful experience, I wasn’t going to let the hacked together taste of poultry and Eggo stop me from checking out this year’s finalist out of left field. We’ve seen various salty and sweet chips before, but I’ve never seen potato chips that taste like coffee and milk. As for what Chad Scott was thinking when he submitted cappuccino to Lay’s, well, I’ll play it safe and guess he had good intentions.

After strutting through Harris Teeter with a bag in hand and dropped jaws and slow claps of less intrepid snackers around me*, I opened it, which released a mellow, but prominent coffee aroma. It was stronger than coffee ice cream and only a few notches down from a college English class at 7:30 in the morning. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it definitely was unnatural. In fact, when contacted for comment, Mr. Potato Head confirmed it was certainly the most intense out-of-body experience he’s had since Toy Story 3. Like I said, it’s about living dangerously.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Cappuccino Potato Chips Closeup

I raised a single chip and brought it closer to my nose, taking a moment to harness my senses in that cultured thing coffee people do before they take a sip. Then I remembered I was sitting in my office with a potato chip held up to my nose, and realized how freaking ridiculous I looked. I sampled the seasoning by licking the fried exterior of the spud clean.

Its flavor is maddeningly indescribable. I’m taken aback at first, completely unable to harness dozens of hours of GRE verbal practice tests in assessing what the flavor is.

It’s slightly bitter with an odd sensation from the aftermath of lactic sweetness. It leaves a light roasted coffee flavor hanging on the roof of your mouth. I taste more chips and I’m dumbfounded, searching for a salty-sweet affirmation of what I thought the chips would taste like.

Instead, I’m only left with the idea of sweetness and a memory of cream, as the way too authentic taste of light roasted coffee continues to linger even as the clashing but familiar earthiness from the potato comes around at the end. Several chips down, and I’m utterly confused.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Cappuccino Potato Chips 2

This is not exactly living dangerously through snacks. Unencumbered, and perhaps believing that stuffing multiple chips into my mouth at once will harness some undiscovered salty-sweet synergy, I find the taste more palatable. There isn’t a salty-sweet combo going on here, the salty flavor is almost nonexistent, but there is a somewhat cocoa-like effect that isn’t too bad. But it’s hardly bold and it’s not particularly addictive or snackable.

There’s just no other way to say it: Chad Scott, you got your wish. These chips taste just like a cappuccino, or at least insofar as the cappuccino flavor you’d expect from a Jelly Belly Jelly Bean. They’re not throw-out-the-bag horrible, but they’re not something I’d buy again.

The flavor is just out of place on a fried tuber and ends up splitting the difference of two different sensations which match up about as gracefully as a Mormon in a Starbucks (it’s okay, I’m from Utah). Buying them might boost your credibility as a vanguard snacker, but enjoying them probably just means you like the taste of coffee too much.

*Possibly. Or maybe not.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz./about 15 chips – 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, 40 milligrams of sodium, 330 milligrams of potassium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Finalist Cappuccino Potato Chips
Purchased Price: $2.00 (on sale)
Size: 9.5 oz bag
Purchased at: Harris Teeter
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Not detestable in an OH THE HUMANITY kind of way. Classic Lay’s crispiness. Decently snackable when eaten in droves.
Cons: Cappuccino flavor is way too authentic for a potato chip. Bitterness. Out of body snacking experiences. Lacks salty-sweet synergy. Does not affirm the desire to live dangerously.

REVIEW: Doritos Roulette (Canada)

Doritos Roulette

This could very easily be the shortest review in the history of this site. Doritos Roulette are Nacho Cheese Doritos, with the occasional very spicy chip mixed into the bunch. The end. Mic drop.

But I guess I should probably justify my existence here and write a bit more than that. Now where’s that mic…

Not much needs to be said about Nacho Cheese Doritos. They’re the original Doritos flavour, and arguably the tastiest. If you’ve somehow never had them and need me to describe the flavour, then I’m going to assume that you stumbled onto this site by accident. Perhaps you were looking for the Impulsive Buoy, the boating website? Because I’m pretty sure if you did a Venn diagram of “people who read junk food blogs” and “people who have tried Nacho Cheese Doritos,” the two circles would be pretty much right on top of each other.

But fine, for the boat enthusiasts among you, I’ll throw you a bone: Nacho Cheese Doritos are cheesy (I know, shocker, right?) — cheddar in particular — with a salty, fake-in-the-best-way possible flavour, and enough else going on to make them irresistibly addictive. They’re a classic for a reason. They’re hard to dislike.

As for Roulette, the bag is predominantly Nacho Cheese Doritos, which are just as tasty as ever. However, about 25 percent, give or take, are a little different than your standard Nacho Cheese chip: they’re spicy. Very spicy.

Now, I’m no slouch when it comes to spice. Typically, mass-market snacks or fast food items labeled as spicy register for me as a vague tickle, the equivalent of a small kitten playfully batting at your hands. I say this not to boast, but to provide context for this statement: these are legitimately spicy. They’re certainly not the hottest thing you’ve ever had, but you’re definitely going to feel (feel feel) the heat.

If most so-called spicy items are the aforementioned kitten, this is a solid slap in the face.

Doritos Roulette Closeup

Aside from the spice, these chips look and taste just like a regular Nacho Cheese Dorito. So you really have no idea what you’re going to get until you pop it in your mouth (must… resist… “that’s what she said” joke).

It’s actually really good! The combination of regular chips and super spicy ones work surprisingly well. I don’t know if I’d want a whole bag of Doritos this spicy, but here, where you get a few regular chips to cool your mouth between the hot ones, it’s actually quite satisfying.

And of course, that’s not to mention the potential hilarity of eating these with a spice wimp and watching them squirm when they get a spicy one.

I was expecting these to be more of a novelty item than anything else, but I actually wound up enjoying them far more than I thought I would. I’m assuming these are a limited-time-only deal, but if they weren’t, I’d definitely add them to my regular Dorito rotation.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 package (80 grams) – 420 calories, 22 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0.2 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 600 milligrams of sodium, 50 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams fibre, 1 gram sugar, 6 grams protein.)

Item: Doritos Roulette (Canada)
Purchased Price: $1.49 CAN
Size: 80 gram bag
Purchased at: International News
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Classic Nacho Cheese flavour. Good balance of spicy and not-spicy chips. Entertainment value of eating them with people who can’t tolerate spice. The ability to make Passenger 57 references while you eat.
Cons: Might be too spicy for some people. Realizing that a lot of people probably won’t get that Passenger 57 reference.