REVIEW: Lay’s Flavor Icons Potato Chips

Lay s Flavor Icons Potato Chips Bags

This is one of my favorite times of the year.

Seriously, I love it when Lay’s does its big multi-flavor rollouts, whether it be the jealousy-inducing “Do Us a Flavor” finalists, the recent music inspired flavors, or its “Tastes of America” campaign that these new “Flavor Icons” seem to be a continuation of, I’ve pretty much enjoyed every single special chip they’ve put out.

This year, the “Flavor Icons” are chips inspired by foods from famous American eateries. As an East Coast guy, I’ve personally dined at two of the five, so I guess I can say I have a frame of reference on a couple of these flavors.

I’ll rapid-fire through these reviews starting with the two places I’ve eaten at:

Lay’s Kettle Cooked Grimaldi’s New York Style Pizza (Brooklyn, NY)

Lay s Kettle Cooked Flavor Icons New York Style Pizza Potato Chips

Grimaldi’s is a chain of pizza places that originated where I originated, Brooklyn. I haven’t had it in years, but I do recall thinking the pizza was a little overrated. Needless to say, it’s a super famous NYC pizza joint, and that was a blasphemous opinion to anyone I mentioned it to.

Anyway, these chips hit me like a massive nostalgia bomb when I popped open the bag and got a whiff of the old Keebler Pizzeria Chips. I was probably in elementary school last time I had those, but it all came back to me.

Speaking of memories, these hit me right in my taste receptors because WOW(!!!), they tasted exactly like how I remember Grimaldi’s. The chain makes a very saucy pizza, and they definitely gave their secret recipe to Frito Lay. I’d describe it as “gourmet,” with all the ingredients you’d expect from a pizza sauce – onion, garlic, oregano, basil, olive oil, etc.

I’m more of a cheese guy, so I loved the fresh mozzarella flavor and tiny bit of parmesan on the backend. I do not think they needed to be kettle-style, but it reminded me of a crisp pizza crust, so it worked. Pizza is usually hit or miss in chip form. These may be the best pizza chips I’ve ever had.

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 7 3/4 oz bag
Purchased at: ShopRite
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (18 chips) 150 calories, 9 grams of fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 180 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of total sugars, 1 gram of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.

Lay’s Geno’s Philly Cheesesteak (I’ll give ya a hint, PA)

Lay s Flavor Icons Philly Cheesesteak Potato Chips

I’ll tread lightly because I don’t know how to talk about Philly cheesesteaks without breaking the rules. Last time I went to Philly, I got a steak at Geno’s… then I walked across the street and got one at Pat’s, so I don’t have a preference. Cheesesteaks are just awesome.

These chips start out tasting just like Cheddar and Sour Cream, but as I went on, I started to get a “meat” flavor I guess you’d classify as beefy. Beef and even a hint of peppers remain as an aftertaste. So, it starts with the cheese “whiz” (did I do that right?) and some onion, and ends with the beef and peppers. It’s actually pretty complex, and I thought these were excellent.

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 7 3/4 oz bag
Purchased at: ShopRite
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 15 chips) 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 210 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of total sugars, 1 gram of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.

Lay’s Wavy El Torito Carnitas Street Taco (Marina Del Ray, CA)

Lay s Wavy Flavor Icons Canitas Street Taco Potato Chips

Now we get to the places I’ve never been to. Carnitas were my go-to Mexican order before I decided to stop eating pork. Well, I broke my resolution because these chips actually have pork listed as an ingredient. They definitely taste like charred pulled Mexican-style pork, albeit weakly.

They start with a very slight sweetness that I attributed to the sauce El Torito must use to simmer the pork. There’s a little blast of lime and fresh chopped onion in there too. There’s a weird, dull “dryness” to these that I persuaded myself was supposed to mimic the tortilla. These don’t POP as much the rest of the lineup, but they’re still pretty tasty, and I love that they’re Wavy.

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 7 3/4 oz bag
Purchased at: ShopRite
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (15 chips) 150 calories, 10 grams of fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 210 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of total sugars, 1 gram of fiber, and 1 gram of protein.

Lay’s Cocina Azul Chile Relleno (Albuquerque, NM)

Lay s Flavor Icons Chile Relleno Potato Chips

Full transparency, I didn’t even know what this was – some kinda egg and cheese mix stuffed inside a pepper? Sure, why not, that sounds good. Well, after eating the chip, I’m gonna make it my duty to seek out the actual dish.

These chips smell and taste like a light queso dip. The chile pepper tastes both crisp and vibrant while giving off the perfect amount of heat. They’re not really too spicy, which I appreciated. There is also definitely an “eggy” taste, like cheesy scrambled eggs that peek out towards the finish. These are probably the saltiest of the bunch, and I imagine some may think they’re too mild overall, but I’m a big fan.

Purchased Price: $1.89
Size: 2 5/8 oz bag
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (15 chips) 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 180 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of total sugars, 1 gram of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.

Lay’s Party Fowl Nashville Hot Chicken (Guess Where, TN)

Lay s Flavor Icons Nashville Hot Chicken Potato Chips

Now I’ve had plenty of hot chicken in my life, but I’ve never had Nashville-specific hot chicken, so forgive me if I say anything out of line.

As you’d expect, these are the hottest chip in the bunch. I’d put them slightly under the standard “Flamin’ Hot” heat, which keeps them very snackable. These are undeniably chicken-flavored, but they mostly tasted like crispy chicken skin to me.

They had that “dryness” that I mentioned in the Carnitas review, that I can’t quite find a better word for. I like it, though. The hot sauce flavor doesn’t have any particular ingredient I can pinpoint. Google tells me they usually use cayenne and brown sugar, but I didn’t necessarily get that, nor were they listed as ingredients.

There’s a pickle on the bag, but I don’t believe this has any pickle flavor. I would have loved a little splash of dill, but not a huge deal.

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 7 3/4 oz bag
Purchased at: ShopRite
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (15 chips) 150 calories, 10 grams of fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 190 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of total sugars, 1 gram of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.

Lay s Flavor Icons Potato Chips 2

So, there ya have ’em. I pretty much loved all five, but a couple were near perfect. I can’t be super confident that three are perfectly accurate to the specific restaurant dish they’re copying, but judging from the two I know, I bet they’re pretty spot on.

Maybe I’m just an easy (Frito) lay, but I’m really impressed. These might be the most complex flavor profiles Lay’s have tackled to date, and they nailed ’em. Basically, every intended ingredient of each dish came through for me. That never happens.

According to the bags you have until 9/10/20 to try these. Don’t drag your feet. Otherwise, you’ll have to drive coast to coast to try the real things.

Oh, and if anyone from Frito Lay is reading this, I dare you to make my last flavor submission – Onion Knish with Spicy Mustard!

21 thoughts to “REVIEW: Lay’s Flavor Icons Potato Chips”

  1. ur taste buds r real.. theres no lying here… i wouldnt get theses again though a cheesteak is a cheesteak.. no pepeprs pr cheese.. and u can break traditin as that makes any dish boring… give me some thick ham and el yucateo sauce.. thats it.. none of that pepper bite trash though the only cheese that would make sense is ricos cheese.. that theatre stuff is legit.. if its ging to tate like th restaurant do it right.. we have all of that here… thax fo the review though

  2. Agree on the Philly Cheesesteak ones taking a bit to break through the cheese and a bit of heat (maybe a mild version of the recent Cheddar Jalapeno) before getting the beef and peppers flavor on later chips.

    Doesn’t look like you reviewed it two years ago, but was this pizza noticeably different than the deep dish from two years ago? More saucy than breaded/crusty maybe?

    My Arizona store has the Philly and Nashville ones, but not the California one (though your review makes me less disappointed). Wish the Chile Relleno wasn’t 7-11 exclusive, but it sounds like it might be worth the trip to try it out.

    1. According to the initial news reports when these chips were announced, the chili relleno flavor is a Wal-Mart and 7-11 exclusive flavor.

      1. Thanks. For some reason, I thought it was 7-11 only and didn’t bother to double check: Walmart is a little more doable for me.

        1. I know my taste buds aren’t as refined/sensitive as food reviewers, but I thought the Chile Relleno (which my Walmart did have) were bland and didn’t taste much heat/spice or even flavor from the pepper (given the Wikipedia description, I was expecting a Hatch Chile from a New Mexico-based item, but the ingredients list Bell Pepper); I wasn’t expecting Nashville Hot or anything, but I needed something to flavor (since it lacked the texture/gooeyness of cheesy scrambled eggs, a taste the reviewer mentioned that I did detect) this a little more.

  3. Does anybody know if the pizza chips are spicy? I tried the last pizza chips that Lay’s released (also based on a famous pizzeria, I think it was Gino’s) but I really didn’t like them because they were a little spicy. I hate spicy pizza for some reason.

    1. they aren’t spicy. at least I didn’t get any spice. There’s a lot going on, but I think you’ll be ok spice wise.

      1. The two El Torino’s in my area closed down; I thought the place had gone of business. Just googled and ones still around here. Wonder how Lays picks these restaurants to colab with.

        BTW. Totally into spicy mustard chips! Make that happen, Lays!

  4. The pizza chips are everything that the mozzarella and marinara ruffles could have been, and more. While those ruffles were a huge disappointment, these are on point, from the sauce, to the cheese, to the spices (not spicy, by the way, Daria). They didn’t quite hit the top spot, but they are the 2nd best chip I’ve tried this year, only beat by Aldi’s pancetta and parmesan chips.

    I’ve also tried the taco. Not bad, but if you handed me some to guess the flavor I would not come up with taco. Good, but not as good as pringles chicken tacos from a couple years back.

    I’ll try the cheesesteak and relleno chips at some point, probably won’t care for the spice on the Nashville hots, even though I love the Nashville hot at KFC.

  5. I’ve only tried the Philly chips, and I thought they were pretty good. I got the last bag at my local Lucky Supermarket (regional San Francisco area chain owned by Save-Mart). They didn’t have any other flavors except the Hot Chicken, which isn’t really my thing, so I didn’t buy it.

  6. For some reason the chicken ones just taste like odd burnt flavor to me and no spice, not sure if I got a weird batch or it’s just me lol. Love the pizza ones though, flavorful without being too much cheese.

  7. Needs more flavor to the Philly cheesesteak chips. All I tasted was onion in the bag I got. The Brooklyn pizza kettle chips were on the sweet side. Too sugary and not much pizza taste. I’ve had here’s pizza cheese doodles w more flavor.

  8. We did a taste test of all of these (except Chile Relleno which we couldn’t find) between 4 of us while camping and thought they were all quite good in their own right. The least fave was the Philly Cheesesteak…no one could really guess that one. The overall fave was the Nashville Hot Chicken flavor. It won our test by a country mile. The next fave was the pizza, followed closely by the Pork Carnitas. The Nashville is fire! I actually bought extra bags just in case they were good, and they are! The more you eat the hotter they get!

  9. I could not find the Philly, will try in Green Bay tomorrow but did find the Pizza (won’t eat kettle so won’t try that one) taco (tried and did not like, tastes like hamburger casserole) Chicken ( will try after done with the other) Chile Relleno (love this one and so does my 5 year old grandson. 4 thumbs up on this one.)

  10. I really liked the New York Style Pizza flavor. It taste just like pizza flavored Goldfish. The Carnitas Street Taco’s flavor was not to my liking with a bacon pepper taste which sounds good but has a weird aftertaste. I am afraid the Nashville Hot Chicken was not much better. I appreciate the creativity I hope to try more soon.

  11. Love your chips so yesterday I was at Walmart I found your chips they don’t have all the new flavors I guess but they had the philly cheese ones so I grab a bag couldn’t wait to get home to try them I was so sad bc they were Horrible jus being honest wasted money down the drain…but I look forward to try the other flavors hopefully they will be better! Disappointed Customer!

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