I was pretty stoked when Lay’s first introduced their “Do Us a Flavor” contest last summer. I mean really. It was about time one of these snack food giants gave me the chance to take my dream of country pate and crusty baguette chips and make it a reality.
Alas, the folks at Frito-Lay decided to crush my dreams by going with three other flavors as their finalists. I can’t say I’m surprised by two of them. I have nothing against Sriracha or Cheesy Garlic Bread, but really, we’ve seen spicy and cheesy when it comes to chips before.
What we haven’t seen before (at least not in America) is chicken & waffles. At least not in fried spud form. Syrup? Yes. Denny’s breakfast platters? Of course. But not potato chips. That’s just crazy talk.
Well, I guess we might as well call Lay’s crazy because they’ve decided to milk this soul food classic for all its “Upcoming Food Trends” list-generating hype is worth.
I’m sure a more prolific writer would resign any poultry puns before embarking on such a review, but there’s really no other way to describe my first reaction when opening the bag; my God, these chips smell foul!
It’s this funky, almost mildew-inducing stench which borders somewhere between brown sugar oatmeal and leftover KFC, as if each chip has been cooked in oil leftover from the original Wells Supper Club in Harlem…circa 1938.
For as bad as the chips smell, they actually look quite appetizing. They appear thicker and more robust than your standard potato chips, and have a kettle-cooked type hue with real, skin-on edges. The seasoning, while smelling just awful, didn’t look unappetizing. Aside from a stick-to-your finger coating of brown sugar and “chicken and waffle seasoning,” there’s even your prerequisite unidentified herb coating each chip.
If you don’t like herbs, you might like these chips because they don’t have any herby taste whatsoever. Of course, you might also like these chips if you enjoy a really funky, if not altogether, off-putting pungency that hangs in the roof of your mouth like Luke Skywalker dangling in the Wampa’s cave during The Empire Strikes Back.
I really don’t know how to describe the taste other than clashing and vaguely reminiscent of mold. There’s something about the initial zip of brown sugar; followed by the artificial chicken taste; some fake butter flavor thrown in there just for good measure; and the onion, garlic and chicken bullion that make for a really, really strange flavor.
Oh, who am I kidding?
These are horrible. They taste old and rotten. And while there’s a nice crunch that’s more substantial than your standard Lay’s chip, there’s no taste of a potato whatsoever. Even the artwork on the bag looks unappetizing – like a Play-Doh reconstructed waffle and the kind of chicken drumette they stick in working kitchen displays in IKEAs. Forget that foodie-inspired wisdom you think you know because, after eating these, I never want to encounter brown sugar, chicken broth, and onion powder in this close proximity ever again.
And that aroma. I just can’t get past it. The only thing that compares is sticking your face into an amusement park trash can and taking a gigantic whiff of stuff.
I was completely prepared to admonish Lay’s for picking two “safer” flavors when it came to their Flavor Finalists, but Sriracha and Cheesy Garlic Bread now look really good. I can’t fathom them being any worse than these chicken & waffles chips. And to think, they could have totally struck it rich with that country pate and crusty baguette flavor…
(Nutrition Facts – 28g/about 17 chips – 160 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 135 milligrams of sodium, 320 milligrams of potassium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)
Item: Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Finalist Chicken & Waffles Potato Chips
Purchased Price: $3.00
Size: 9.5 oz. bag
Purchased at: Weis Market
Rating: 1 out of 10
Pros: Crunchier than a normal Lay’s chips. Smells slightly better than sticking your head into an amusement park trash can.
Cons: Heavy doses of brown sugar and ‘savory’ spices come together worse than blindly pouring an entire spice cabinet into a bowl. Moldy smell comes across in the seasoning. Can’t taste the potatoes. Quite possibly the least appetizing potato product I’ve ever eaten.