REVIEW: Lay’s Beer ‘n Brats Potato Chips

Lay's Beer 'n Brats Potato Chips

With it being cookout season, I imagine many of you will find yourselves outside with a cold beer in one hand, a nice bratwurst in the other hand, not enough sunscreen on your body, and way too much bug repellant because those reports on the evening news about the Zika virus are freaking you out.

Frito-Lay is celebrating summer with the rollout of Lay’s Beer ’n Brats Potato Chips, which is a flavor that I imagine is causing some of you to spew profanities at your screen right now because it was your entry for the Lay’s Do Us a Flavor contest.

Full disclosure: I am not a beer drinker.

Full disclosure 2 Electric Boogaloo: But I am a beer-flavored potato chip eater.

I’m a huge fan of Kettle Brand’s Cheddar Beer Potato Chips. I voted for it during Kettle Brand’s first People’s Choice vote in 2005. I love its combination of maltiness and tangy cheesiness, and how those flavors really popped. Oh, God, I want some right now.

So how do these Lay’s chips get their beeriness and bratiness?

With Beer ’n Brats seasoning, of course. No really. That’s what it’s called in the ingredients list. Thankfully the seasoning is broken down. Here are some of the highlights in no particular order: salt (of course), onion powder, cheddar cheese, brown sugar, sugar, yeast extract, whey protein concentrate (imagine me flexing right now), spices, butter, Romano cheese, chicken broth, chicken powder, buttermilk, chicken fat, dijon mustard, natural extractives of beer, and beer solids.

What’s a beer solid? It sounds like a favor that’s sealed when two people drink beer with their drinking arms intertwined. It’s not, but the knowledgeable ingredients list also breaks down what beer solids are — malted barley, corn syrup, hops, and yeast.

Lay's Beer 'n Brats Potato Chips 2

The Lay’s Beer ’n Brats Potato Chips have an aroma that smells like the undercarriage of a lawnmower that just ran over an herb garden and New York City hot dog carts. It’s sweet, herby, and mustard-y. My nose likes it and my nose also thinks it smells somewhat similar to turkey and stuffing potato chips I’ve had in the past.

A beer-like flavor registered once I put them into my mouth. But quickly after that it got a little more complex. It’s slight herby, there’s a mild onion flavor, the cheese gave off a slight funk, and the chicken ingredients gave the chips a greasiness that tastes like a bratwurst. But overall, the chip leans more towards a bratwurst than a beer, and that taste lingered in my mouth long after I ate them. They have a unique flavor and my palate enjoyed them, but they don’t make me say, “Don’t you dare take these off shelves or else I will cut you!”

As much as I liked these chips, I could see how others might think they’re gross. Herbs, onion, funk, and grease don’t sound like an awesome combination to some, but I guess, much like beer, it’s an acquired taste.

Thanks to my pal Candy Hunting for sending this bag to me. If you have an Instagram account you can follow her @candyhunting.

(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, 330 milligrams of potassium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: N/A
Size: 7 3/4 oz bag
Purchased at: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Initial flavor is beer-like. It also tastes somewhat like a brat. Complex flavor. Unique flavor. Kettle Brand Cheddar Beer Potato Chips.
Cons: Some might find its flavor off-putting. I wish the flavor popped a bit more. Might be difficult to find. Zika virus.

QUICK REVIEW: Cheesy Quesadilla Pringles

Cheesy Quesadilla Pringles

I imagine putting together a Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme is like brain surgery when compared with the effort it takes to make a cheesy quesadilla. Making one is easier than typing qasadia quasadila quesadila quesadea quesadilla for a first time speller of the word. It involves these simple steps: warm up a soft tortilla in a skillet, sprinkle on a lot of cheese, wait for cheese to melt, fold tortilla in half, and eat.

But Pringles, the Master of Potato Flake Compression, has given us a much simpler way to experience the simple dish — Cheesy Quesadilla Pringles.

It’s not a new flavor, it originally came out years ago, but it hasn’t been on shelves for a while and is currently exclusive to Walgreens. So you can pick up a can while you’re picking up your prescription for something that only you and your doctor know about. Oh, and don’t forget to take your Walgreens Balance Rewards Card. This paragraph was not brought to you by Walgreens at the corner happy & healthy.

The flavor of these crisps is not what I would consider bold or cheese quesadilla-like. There’s a light cheesiness with an equally light pepperiness. I know what these are supposed to taste like, but it doesn’t fire my neurons in a way that makes me think cheesy quesadilla. Instead, all I can think about is watered down chile con queso.

Cheesy Quesadilla Pringles 2

Maybe the flavors are mild because Pringles wanted to recreate the flavor dampening abilities of soft tortillas. Or maybe the seasoning robot in the Pringles factory was set to level 4 by accident.

Overall, Cheesy Quesadilla Pringles are adequate. I don’t think it’s one of those “accidentally eat more than half a can in one sitting” flavors, like sour cream and onion or original. I guess what I’m trying to say is if you see it while picking up your medication at Walgreens, it’s probably not worth a try.

Disclosure: I received a free sample from Pringles in return for an honest review. Receiving the sample did not influence my review.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 5.96 oz can
Purchased at: Available at Walgreens
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 ounce) 150 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Lay’s Creamy Bacon Potato Salad Potato Chips

Lay's Creamy Bacon Potato Salad Potato Chips

Barbeque season is upon us once again, and your old friend Vin is here to share a dirty little secret with you.

No one really likes your potato salad.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the side dish you made/bought is not as big a hit as your well-meaning friends are making it seem. There’s a reason it’s the last thing remaining on the table as the sun drops, just rotting there in a warm, gelatinous clump of misery as the guests head for their cars.

In terms of the salad offerings at any given BBQ, potato almost always ranks behind macaroni. If chicken salad is on the menu, forget about it! Hell, potato salad usually ranks behind regular salad. With all due respect to all the red headed stepchildren of the world, potato salad is truly the you of summer BBQ staples.

Lay's Creamy Bacon Potato Salad Potato Chips 2

Crispy chips are tastier than starchy spud cubes slathered in a gross mayo concoction and the good folks at Frito-Lay are well aware of this. That’s why they’re ready to make the summer of ‘16 potato salad-free with the introduction of their “new” flavor, Creamy Bacon Potato Salad.

Now that I think about it, potato salad was probably an easy flavor to reproduce in chip form. You’re already working with potato. Add a buzzworthy ingredient – possibly the buzziest – in “bacon,” and yup, this seems like it might actually work.

They certainly smell the part. These are the best smelling chips I’ve had in some time. Upon tearing open the bag, I was hit with the aroma of bacon bits. It’s a bit more artificial than freshly cooked bacon, but amazing nonetheless.

I guess the initial flavor is the “salad” component of the chip. There’s a sharp vinegary, mayonnaise taste, but that is immediately trounced by bacon. Beyond that quick surge, these are basically a loaded baked potato.

Lay's Creamy Bacon Potato Salad Potato Chips 3

Sure, I was put in mind of potato salad for a split second, but it doesn’t seem like they even tried to steer this away from loaded baked potato. Sour cream, onion powder, and cheddar cheese are listed in the ingredients. It’s a potato chip and bacon is the star of the show. What’s missing? That’s a loaded baked potato.

Think of them like this – If you filled three-fourths of a bowl with 3/4 loaded baked potato chips and then filled the rest with salt and vinegar, this would be the end result.

These chips are a delicious sham. Lay’s repackaged a slight variation on an old flavor and designed a shiny new bag. I’m not mad at ‘em, and when you try these, you won’t be either. I am however mad about one minor thing.

I realize sour cream and onion is one of the most popular chips in the world, but why is “Creamy” necessary here? First of all, “Creamy Bacon” is a weird combination of words that illicit some weird thoughts in my brain. Second of all, it’s a chip. It’s not creamy. Even if you’re mimicking the taste of “creamy” potato salad, we don’t need to know it’s creamy, it’s assumed. Not to mention, “creamy” is a disgusting word. It’s my “moist.” This concludes my creamy rant.

Next time you’re considering bringing potato salad to a BBQ, think better of it. Grab a bag of these and pick up some macaroni salad. Your hosts/guests will appreciate it.

Fans of any of the numerous bacon-centric flavors Lay’s has put out in the past will love these. If you like potato skins appetizers, you’ll love these. If you like summer, you’ll love these.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 ounce – 150 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 1 gram of sugars, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.48
Size: 7 3/4 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: One of the better new flavors in a while. Worthy replacement for gross potato salad. Smells great. Buzzworthy bacon.
Cons: Basically a retread flavor in a shiny new bag. Imagining what creamy bacon might taste like. The word “creamy” in general. Potato salad.

REVIEW: Pirate Brands Bountiful Banana & Potato Crisps

Pirate Brands Bountiful Banana & Potato Crisps

Ahoy, me maties. What’s shakin?

I just tried my first Pirate Brands product ever.

After passing on “Pirate’s Booty” for years, I finally decided to indulge in their Bountiful Banana and “Potatarr” Crisps.

I’ve never found pirates all that interesting. I’ve grown tired of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. I’ve always held an admittedly unfair loathing of the Pittsburgh Pirates. (Go Mets!) Whenever I hear the word, I picture Jerry Seinfeld in a puffy shirt whimpering, “But I don’t wanna be a pirate!”

All of those might’ve subconsciously played a role into why I’ve never purchased Pirate Brands snacks. Or maybe my brain just didn’t like the idea of eating “Booty”?

But there is one sure-fire way to get my money, no ifs, ands, or booties, and that’s to release a snack using the one ingredient that has a gravitational pull on me – banana.

I’ll try any snack you wanna throw at me if banana is a featured ingredient. I would’ve walked the plank or fought the fabled Kraken to try a bag of banana and potato crisps. Those are things pirates do, right?

Yarrrr, these crisps be delicious. Ah geez, they got me talking like em now.

The aroma coming out of the bag after I opened it was heavenly. It smelled exactly like dried banana chips.

Pirate Brands Bountiful Banana & Potato Crisps 2

The crisps look and crunch exactly like Lay’s Baked. I know a lot of people don’t love those, but I’m a weirdo who actually prefers baked crisps over fried chips. I can demolish a bag with no problem, and like Lay’s Baked, these went down very easy.

Each potato crisp has a powdery coating that starts with sweet banana flavor, but evolves into a subtle salty banana. Shiver me timbers! (I’ll stop now.) I immediately started tipping the bag back and drinking multiple crisps at a time.

When I ate it that way (in the comfort of my own home, thank you), I realized there was a small flavor inconsistency. Some of the crisps had an overbearing sweetness that made them taste synthetic.

Luckily, that momentary disappointment soon faded. The sweetness didn’t last long enough for it to become a real problem. As I chewed, the potato took over and these basically became standard baked crisps. The starchiness of the potato crisp neutralized the sweetness, so I got banana on the nose, and potato on the finish. Not only that, a few minutes after putting the bag down, I was left with a very pleasant banana aftertaste.

So, to recap, the taste profile actually goes from banana to potato and then back to banana! Magic.

Pirate Brands Bountiful Banana & Potato Crisps 3

You’re probably wondering about the dried banana chips shown on the bag. Whoever the tallyman is, he or she needs to be fired, because I counted less than five. So they weren’t exactly “bountiful” as promised.

I wanted to cry about false advertising, but in the end I really didn’t care. The banana flavor on the crisp was the same as the dried banana chip. I tasted no difference at all when I mixed the two.

I ended up loving these. And I think I like pirates now.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 ounce – 120 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3.5 grams of fat, 30 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 4 oz bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: I just love bananas. Good crunch. Nice baked flavor. Delicious mix of salty and sweet. A reasonably healthy snack. “The Puffy Shirt” episode of Seinfeld. Ate the entire bag in one sitting.
Cons: The word “booty.” Some crisps briefly tasted synthetic. Lack of dried banana chips. Who is the tallyman? Ate the entire bag in one sitting.

REVIEW: Lay’s Kettle Cooked Olive Oil & Herbs Potato Chips (Flavor Swap)

Lay's Kettle Cooked Olive Oil & Herbs Potato Chips (Flavor Swap)

I get the feeling these new Flavor Swap varieties are just rejects of other flavors Lay’s have made. Like the designers working on the next iPhone or me passing Math 100 in college, I’m sure the folks in charge of developing flavors didn’t accomplish what they wanted in one try.

They must go through dozens of iterations to get it right. Some are not fit for human consumption, but along the way they probably come up with flavors that could be used for something else. Case in point, these Lay’s Kettle Cooked Olive Oil & Herbs Potato Chips. They taste like one of the rejects. Okay, I really should stop calling them “rejects” before I hurt their feelings. They taste like one of the happy accidents that happened while making the Do Us a Flavor Southern Biscuits and Gravy Potato Chips that came out last year.

Much like those chips, these olive oil and herbs ones are also in a competition to remain on shelves. But instead of competing with three other flavors for shelf dominance, it’s just one. And that flavor is Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper.

Lay's Kettle Cooked Olive Oil & Herbs Potato Chips (Flavor Swap) 2

To be honest, I haven’t had Lay’s Kettle Cooked Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper until now. I saw them all the time, but I ignored them and grabbed one of the other Kettle Cooked flavors, like Original or Sea Salt & Vinegar. Now that I’ve finally had them, I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on these tasty chips for all these years. They have just the right amount of pepper flavor with a slight peppery burn in the back of my throat.

Lay's Kettle Cooked Olive Oil & Herbs Potato Chips (Flavor Swap) 3

The two flavors look almost exactly alike, except the Olive Oil & Herbs appear to have spent a little more time in the tanning booth. I guess the flavor was influenced by the olive oil and herbs bread dip at Italian restaurants. So do they taste like the olive oil your Macaroni Grill server put on a plate after writing her or his name upside down?

Yes, they tastes like that, but with every chip I can’t stop thinking about the Lay’s Southern Biscuits and Gravy. They’re haunting my taste buds. Haunting!!! Their aroma is also haunting. It’s herbaceous to the point where it’s almost medicinal. And chips that were a bit too seasoned had a (how can I put it nicely) slightly unpleasant earthiness. But those chips were rare. Overall, it’s not a bad chip flavor, but it’s not a flavor I would buy again.

So if I was Noah and had to collect junk food for a snack ark, I would save Lay’s Kettle Cooked Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper, but not Lay’s Kettle Cooked Olive Oil & Herbs.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz. – 150 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 350 milligrams of potassium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.89
Size: 2 3/4 oz. bag
Purchased at: Tesoro Gas Station
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Reminds me of Lay’s Southern Biscuits and Gravy. Wonderful kettle cooked chip crunch. Happy accidents. My taste buds discovering Lay’s Kettle Cooked Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper for the first time.
Cons: Smells almost medicinal. Chips that were seasoned too much had an unpleasant earthiness to them. To me, they’re not better than Lay’s Kettle Cooked Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper. I won’t win the $250,000.