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.

REVIEW: Lay’s Smoked Gouda & Chive Potato Chips (Flavor Swap)

Lay's Smoked Gouda & Chive Potato Chips (Flavor Swap)

In the Lay’s potato chip flavor universe, Cheddar & Sour Cream has lived in the shadow of sour cream & onion. If sour cream & onion is the more popular Ben Affleck, then Cheddar & Sour Cream is Casey Affleck. Or if you’re looking for an Affleck-less reference, sour cream & onion is Luke or Owen Wilson, while Andrew Wilson is Cheddar & Sour Cream.

Yes. There’s a third Wilson brother who’s also an actor.

Lay’s Cheddar & Sour Cream isn’t a new flavor, but it’s not available in my area like sour cream & onion, which is EVERYWHERE. But there’s a chance that Lay’s Cheddar & Sour Cream might end up being nowhere, thanks to Lay’s new Flavor Swap promotion. The contest involves voting between two flavors and the winner stays while the other one gets sent out into deep space or something.

Cheddar & Sour Cream is up against a new flavor — Smoked Gouda and Chive.

Lay's Smoked Gouda & Chive Potato Chips (Flavor Swap) 3

The flavor sounds like a hoity-toity offspring of Cheddar & Sour Cream and sour cream & onion, getting the cheese DNA from one and the herb DNA from the other. While I’ve had gouda, I’ve never really gotten to know gouda, so I read up on it.

Gouda is one of the oldest cheeses in the world that’s still being made today. It’s named after the Dutch city of Gouda. Young gouda has a mild fudgy flavor with nuts and older gouda has a sweet, slightly fruity flavor. And now you are ready to pretend to be a cheese expert, if that cheese is gouda and you run away if you’re asked about any other cheese.

Lay's Smoked Gouda & Chive Potato Chips (Flavor Swap) 2

These chips look exactly like sour cream & onion potato chips, but they smell sweet and cheesy. They don’t have a fudgy or fruity flavor. Instead, they taste like smoky bacon, which makes sense because it’s SMOKED gouda and because of this Reddit thread I came upon. The first chip is smoky and cheesy, but subsequent ones are definitely more on the smoky bacon side. As for the chive flavor, I couldn’t taste any. But, overall, I really enjoyed the flavor of the chip.

Lay's Smoked Gouda & Chive Potato Chips (Flavor Swap) 4

So between Smoked Gouda & Chive and Cheddar & Sour Cream which one would I send into deep space and which one would I save? Well, to be honest, it’s a very hard decision, because both are equally fine tasting empty calories. It would like choosing which is more entertaining — a video of a kitten playing peekaboo with his or her owner or a video of a puppy licking peanut butter off a window.

The Cheddar & Sour Cream definitely has a stronger cheese flavor than its competitor, but if the Lay’s one goes away, there’s still the Ruffles Cheddar & Sour Cream (which is the better one). If Lay’s Cheddar & Sour Cream went away, I wouldn’t miss it. As for the Smoked Gouda & Chive, it doesn’t really taste too cheesy and it’s not necessarily better, but it does taste like bacon, and bacon is yummy, so I’d probably miss it.

So I guess I’m #TeamSaveSmokedGoudaandChive.

(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, 135 milligrams of sodium, 330 milligrams of potassium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Lay’s Smoked Gouda & Chive Potato Chips (Flavor Swap)
Purchased Price: $1.89
Size: 2 3/4 oz.
Purchased at: Tesoro Gas Station
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like bacon. Smoked gouda tastes like bacon. Ruffles Cheddar & Sour Cream. Gouda’s longevity.
Cons: Not too cheesy. Not too chivey. Getting sent out into deep space. Ending a review with a hashtag.

REVIEW: Lay’s Korean Barbecue Potato Chips (Flavor Swap)

Lay’s Korean Barbecue Potato Chips

Funfetti.

Chocolate-covered olive.

Nashville Hot Chicken and pickles.

These are but a few flavors we won’t be tempted to try as part of Lay’s annual “Do Us A Flavor” contest. After a three-year run with some highs, some lows, and frankly just some seasoning that had no business coming into contact with a potato, Lay’s is asking for America’s feedback in a totally new competition. The stakes couldn’t be higher.

Flavor Swap offers a chance to pick the next Lay’s chip flavors, but only at the cost of an existing flavor, which will be exiled to the world of Oreo O’s cereal, Dunkaroos, and Black Pepper Jack Doritos. One of the flavors on the chopping block: the iconic and always reliable Honey Barbecue.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. We are getting a choice, and when it comes to the barbecue category, the new Korean Barbecue chips offer something totally different from the eight other barbecue chip flavors listed on the Lay’s website — a taste of one of America’s hottest trends.

I first discovered Korean barbecue when a crapload of Kalbi and Bulgogi restaurants showed up in my Maryland suburb. I couldn’t speak a word of Korean, but the language of grilled marinated rib eye transcends ineffective Google translators. Marinated in a combination of soy sauce, ginger, sugar, and other spices, the thin cuts of grilled meats are totally unlike those loaded with vinegary Carolina sauces or sweet Kansas City sauces. Dare I say it, in some ways they’re better.

Lay’s Korean Barbecue Potato Chips 2

I can’t say that’s necessarily true about Lay’s take on the Korean barbecue. The chips are definitely unique; I’ll give them that. And they’re tasty too. Darker, with a grey shadow and specs of onion and garlic powder, they’ve got an initial salty and meaty flavor which tastes like instant beef bouillon, except not quite so disgusting-sounding. The strong umami notes soon give way to a prominent smoky flavor and a touch of sweetness, and when eaten straight from the bag, they’re almost impossible to put down.

Lay’s Korean Barbecue Potato Chips Head-to-Head 1

Almost. The thing is, Lay’s Honey Barbecue chips are impossible to put down. It’s an orange chip with a light tomato and paprika flavor that perfectly complements its sweet brown sugar and molasses touch, and its finish is distinctly potato-ey. It’s clean, simple, and just a good old potato chip.

Lay’s Korean Barbecue Potato Chips Head-to-Head 2

To use a rough barbecue analogy for the chips, Honey Barbecue is about the sauce and the spice, and Korean Barbecue is about the meat and the smoke. They’re both really good, and in the case of the Korean Barbecue flavor, the chips are distinct from other flavors we’ve seen before. But the former flavor is what I’m craving on a chip, and the latter on, well, actual meat.

As much as I love the idea of Korean Barbecue potato chips and want these to stick around, I’m not ready to exile Honey Barbecue to the island of misfit snacks for them. Salty, smoky, and meaty, the Korean Barbecue chips are just a little too heavy for a potato chip flavor, and could have really used a bit of ginger or additional backend sweetness to round their flavor out. Nevertheless, I hope Lay’s toys with the idea of keeping the chips around, because the Korean Barbecue has more than earned its place at America’s culinary table.

(Nutrition Facts – 28 grams – 150 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 140 mg of sodium, 330 mg of potassium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 2 grams of sugars, and 2 grams of protein..)

Item: Lay’s Korean Barbecue Potato Chips
Purchased Price: $1.28
Size: 2.75 oz bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Nails the smoky meaty flavor of bulgogi meat in chip form. Complex saltiness with sweet notes in the background. Breaks relatively new ground in an already saturated barbecue chip market. Not chocolate-dipped olive.
Cons: Soy sauce flavor tastes a bit more like Worcestershire sauce. Umami flavor covers up clean finish of the potato taste. Not enough sweetness and no ginger. Not as good as Honey Barbecue flavored chips. Kind of wanting to try a Funfetti flavored chip.

REVIEW: Hot Diggity Dog Pringles

Hot Diggity Dog Pringles

Hot Diggity Dog is the all-time greatest Pringles…

…name.

It’s the only Pringles flavor that I would want as my catchphrase if I was a Hanna-Barbara cartoon character. There’s a lonely picnic basket under that tree? Hot Diggity Dog! You came up with a new sprocket for Spacely Space Sprockets? Hot Diggity Dog! Time to punch out at the quarry? Hot Diggity Dog! Scooby Snacks? Hot Diggity Dog!

I love hot dogs. If I could eat them every single day without medical concern, I would. Of course, I’d get sick of them at some point and then switch to hamburgers, but I’d probably come back to hot dogs once I got sick of hamburgers. So having hot dog-flavored Pringles does excite me.

Now if you expect these potato crisps to taste like a hot dog with all the fixings — ketchup, mustard, and relish — please lower your expectations. If you have expectations that it’s going to taste like what’s on the packaging — a hot dog with mustard — then you will be pleased.

Opening the can releases a yellow mustard scent that, if you inhale too much of it, will tickle your nose. There’s also a porky aroma **sniffles** mixed in with the mustard. **sniffles** It’s really nice.

**Sniffles**

Give me a second. Still tickling.

**Sniffles**

Okay, I’m good.

As for their flavor…Oh. My. Dog. The yellow mustard flavor dominates, but they also have a salty and meaty flavor that’s similar to those hot dogs that have ingredients labels I avoid reading. I swear there’s even a slight bun flavor that pops up every so often. Eating through a can of Hot Diggity Dog Pringles is like having having $21 at Costco and eating their $1.50 hot dogs until the money runs out…or until you throw up.

Hot Diggity Dog Pringles 2

The food scientists behind this flavor did a wonderful job. Even the aftertaste that lingers tastes like a hot dog with mustard. My taste buds are so confused right now. They’re probably thinking, “Something crunchy that taste like a hot dog? What is going on? Are we in the future?”

With that said, I can understand if there are some of you out there who think this processed meat-flavored crunchy snack is absolutely gross. And I guess writing “processed meat-flavored crunchy snack” does make it sound unappealing, but I really love these.

The hot dog with mustard flavor is so spot on that I’ve had thoughts of having a hot dog-flavored Pringles eating competition, pretending I’m either Joey Chestnut, Takeru Kobayashi, or Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas, and then swallowing as many Hot Diggity Dog Pringles I can in 10 minutes.

Hot Diggity Dog is the all-time greatest Pringles name. And it’s also one of my all-time greatest Pringles.

Disclosure: I received these from the PR firm that represents Pringles. Receiving a free sample did not affect my review in any way. A glowing review probably looks like I’m in the pocket of Julius Pringles, but I assure you I’m not. So let me say something bad about Julius Pringles. He looks like a murderer in a Sherlock Holmes mystery.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz. – 150 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 190 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Hot Diggity Dog Pringles
Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 5.96 oz. can
Purchased at: Received from PR firm (available at Walgreens)
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Spot on hot dog and mustard flavor. Makes me want to pretend to be a competitive eater. Best Pringles name of all-time.
Cons: I imagine there are many people who won’t like the processed meat flavor. Comes in smaller can than regular Pringles. As of this posting, exclusive to Walgreens.

REVIEW: Limited Time Only Salted Caramel Pringles

Limited Time Only Salted Caramel Pringles

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

It’s time for a man with furry facial hair who’s wearing red to deliver something that will make your holidays brighter. I’m not talking about Santa. Nor am I talking about the Target pharmacy cashier who started growing his “playoff beard” early and is handing you the cold medication that makes you loopy.

I’m talking about the red bowtie-wearing Pringles guy, Julius Pringles. Or as I like to call him, J.P. Yup, we as tight as a Pringles can around my hand as I try to grab the crisps at the bottom.

It’s that time of year when J.P. brings out the sweet Pringles flavors. There’s been Pumpkin Pie Spice, White Chocolate Peppermint, Milk Chocolate, White Chocolate, Cinnamon & Sugar, and Pecan Pie. I’ve tried a number of them and my thoughts range from yum to “my holidays are slightly less brighter now.”

J.P.’s latest is Salted Caramel Pringles. It’s a flavor that was bound to happen since salted caramel, sea salt caramel, salt caramel, sea salted caramel, and all their ilk have made their way onto every snack known to human*.

*probably not accurate

Limited Time Only Salted Caramel Pringles 2

After pulling back the lid, I smelled a odd, sweet aroma. It was also familiar. The sea salt caramel seasoning is either transparent or potato crisp colored because these potato crisps look like plain old Pringles.

Remember when I said they smelled familiar? Well, there’s a reason for that. These Salted Caramel Pringles taste somewhat similar to Pecan Pie Pringles.

They taste similar because they have the same butteriness, which is the dominant flavor in both. The two flavors have a pancakes and maple syrup vibe to them, although less so with the Salted Caramel Pringles, which also have a light burst of salt. I guess sweet butteriness with some salt equates to salted caramel. These crisps also did leave my fingers smelling like eau de pancakes et syrup.

Yes, I’m smelling my fingers right now.

I liked the Pecan Pie Pringles, and since they taste like them, I also enjoyed Salted Caramel Pringles. But I’m disappointed they taste so similar. It’s as if J.P. regifted Pecan Pie Pringles.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 ounce/15 crisps – 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, 110 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Limited Time Only Salted Caramel Pringles
Purchased Price: $7.98*
Size: 5.96 oz
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like Pecan Pie Pringles. Being tight with J.P. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Cons: Tastes like Pecan Pie Pringles. I keep smelling my fingers. If you think other sweet Pringles flavors are odd, this one won’t change your mind.

*Had to buy them from eBay because I wasn’t able to find them here. So I had to pay three times what they really cost to try them.

REVIEW: Trader Joe’s Turkey and Stuffing Seasoned Kettle Chips

Trader Joe's Turkey and Stuffing Seasoned Kettle Chips

“We’ve all heard of Thanksgiving leftovers, but Thanksgiving pre-ftovers?” No laughs. I exit the room. I come back in, trying to make a better entrance. “Guys, if Trader Joe’s keeps this up, we’re going to have to rename Thanksgiving Christmas.” I exit the room. I enter again. “You know what they call three strikes in a row in bowling? A turkey. You know what they call four strikes in a row? Obama’s labor policy. That one’s for you, Uncle Jeff!” No laughs. I exit the room, fill my pockets with rocks and march into the ocean.

At least I died after getting to try Trader Joe’s attempt at a Thanksgiving cornucopia shoved into a snack, the Turkey Stuffing and Seasoned Kettle Chips. What it made me realize is that Thanksgiving is about dull, comforting tastes that feature varying textures, and that a subtle flavor with a light description of the product can possibly induce taste hallucinations.

Opening the bag, a waft of powdered mashed potatoes enters the air. Upon first bite, it tastes a little like powdered mashed potatoes, and maybe a hint of sage. It kind of looks like it’s dusted with powdered mashed potatoes.

We’re going to take a timeout from this review for a reassessment: Of course it tastes like potatoes, you dope. It’s a potato chip. And 80 percent of all the stuffing you’ve eaten has been dried and pre-mixed from a plastic bag, which is like the cousin of the powdered mash potato.

Trader Joe's Turkey and Stuffing Seasoned Kettle Chips 2

Let’s read the packaging. “These thickly cut, kettle cooked chips are tossed in a seasoning that tastes like a traditional American Thanksgiving meal—first you taste the turkey, then comes the stuffing, and if you close your eyes, you’ll swear you can taste the creamy gravy, too.”

On a second taste a muted stuffing flavor appears. It’s good. Was it always there or was I eating the words on the back of the bag? Does it matter? Nibbling on one at a time, I even catch some dark meat turkey flavor, but only a whisper of umami. Eating the chips by the handful, the overriding flavor is stuffing seasoning before sodium overload makes it all taste like other non-Thanksgiving kettle chips. The aftertaste has a black pepper hum that resembles the outline of a gravy, that lends a tail of personality that elevates the final product.

The chip itself has a slight grit, which is not unpleasant but highlights the main difference between this and a real Thanksgiving dinner. There is no celery snap, no meat gristle, no butter gooey bread crumbs. A potato chip is a potato chip. A potato chip is not a Thanksgiving meal. Are all the flavors there? Sure. I caught them, whether they were real or not. And they serve as a pleasant nostalgia, priming the pump for all the other garbage food on the holiday table.

At best this chip has hints of just about all the main meal touchstones of a Thanksgiving dinner, which is pretty amazing. And even at its worst, it’s a decent kettle chip with sage flavoring. It would have been nice to have a little more kick in there at some point, like cranberries, maybe, or something acidic? But we must dance with the date we came with. And that date is racist Uncle Jeff and a crispy stuffing. Maybe slap them on the leftovers sandwich you’re eating in line for Best Buy at 4 a.m. Oh, that’s right, no Black Friday for me. I’m dead! What a blessing.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz. – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of cholesterol, 130 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Trader Joe’s Turkey and Stuffing Seasoned Kettle Chips
Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: 7 oz. bag
Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Stuffing flavors, turkey flavors, possibly present and enjoyable.
Cons: A tad dull. Could just be powdered mashed potatoes flavor.