REVIEW: Lay’s Wavy Cuban Sandwich Potato Chips

Lay’s Wavy Cuban Sandwich chips went down so easily that I’m already thinking about Havana-nother bag.

Let’s just go ahead and move on from the pun, ok? We all see it. It’s not going anywhere. Havana, like the capital of Cuba. Real clever, bro. It is what it is, and I’m not gonna apologize. Anyway…

Cuban sandwiches! We like those, don’t we folks?

Lay’s has been putting out sandwich-based chips for years and even dropped some limited edition city-inspired flavors, so how did it take this long to get to the delicious Miami-born Cuban sandwich?

I can’t believe this wasn’t a “Do Us a Flavor” winner at some point, and we’re just now finally getting it. It has to be worth the wait, right?

Well, I’m Havana hard time trying to decide.

Ok, I apologize for that one.

Right outta the bag, the chips smelled familiar, giving off Cheddar and Sour Cream vibes, so I instantly expected the cheese to dominate. Once I chomped down, I realized it was a soft cheesiness that I just kinda accepted as Swiss. Don’t get me wrong, it was a nice mild flavor, but without previous knowledge, I’m not sure I would have pinpointed that cheese specifically. Swiss is obviously a milder cheese, but I wish it popped more.

I was a little surprised at just how mellow the overall flavor was until I got hints of mustard and pickle that ended up being my favorite pieces of the puzzle that is this chip.

Like the cheese, I wasn’t overwhelmed by the protein element. At first, it just tasted like some kind of vague spiced meat, but it slowly transformed into a pretty impressive hammy pork flavor. At that point, I realized how complex these chips actually were. They somehow managed to sneak in subtle flavors of both pork roast and ham without them canceling each other out.

You really get each individual Cuban sandwich ingredient to the point that I think these might be one of the most successful Lay’s flavor reproductions I can recall… yet I still wished there was MORE flavor.

They have a sensation that makes it seem like they’re ready to get spicy at any second, but the heat never comes. They’re mild but on the verge of bursting with flavors. It’s hard to explain. I left wishing each chip had about 20% more of a dusting. These were so close to perfection, but they needed to be ramped up to “Cubano Xtreme” or something. They’re layered and impressive but ultimately unfulfilling.

I give Lay’s props for deciding to make these Wavy though. I think it’s the perfect level of crunch for the flavor, and the grooves give a great little nod to the panini press grill marks of the real thing. Regular chips would have been too boring, and I think the flavor balance would’ve gotten thrown out of whack on a greasy kettle chip.

So, while these let me down ever so slightly, I guess I’m still satisfied. I wish they were caked in seasoning like Doritos. What can I say?

If you think I’m gonna close with that pun again, you have another thing comin’.

Purchased Price: $3.68
Size: 7.5 oz.
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (13 Chips) 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of total sugars, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Baked Lay’s Buffalo Chicken Sandwich Potato Crisps

Baked Lay’s Buffalo Chicken Sandwich Potato Crisps are the first Baked Lay’s product I truly enjoyed and want more of after finishing the bag. It’s a monumental moment in my snacking history!

I’ve had other Baked Lay’s products over the years, but beyond the original Baked Lay’s Potato Crisps, I can’t remember what they were, so they must’ve not been that great, right? But I’ll definitely remember these limited time only crisps long after they’re gone because they’re the best tasting Baked Lay’s product I’ve ever had.

What were these called again?

The graphics on the packaging show a crispy chicken sandwich topped with Buffalo sauce, pickles, and cheese. All of those ingredients are present at different levels here. To be honest, adding cheese flavoring seems odd for a Buffalo chicken sandwich. Blue cheese or ranch makes more sense, and the cheese is the least noticeable and gets overpowered by the hot sauce and pickle flavors most of the time. I expected a more robust vinegar tang from the Buffalo seasoning, but it tastes like it gets most of its tang from the pickle flavoring. There’s also a bit of chicken/grease flavor that’s easy to miss. While the Buffalo seasoning doesn’t have the same flavor punch or heat as the wing sauce, when combined with the pickle seasoning, they help make the usually unexciting crisp delicious.

However, the thing with these is that the flavor isn’t consistent. Only one side appears seasoned, and the only way the other side gets any seasoning is by rubbing itself with the other chips in the bag like they’re on a crowded dance floor. So I had to be aware of which side was hitting my tongue, which is not optimal when dealing with my tried and true method of shoving food mindlessly into my mouth.

Oh, speaking of shoving chips into my maw, I enjoyed these so much that I almost ate the entire bag in one sitting. I wish this bag was like a pint of Halo Top, and I could eat the whole thing without guilt. Sure, they have 65 percent less fat than regular potato chips, but this entire 6.25-ounce bag has 720 calories, so I’m feeling a bit guilty right now.

If you hate Baked Lay’s Potato Crisps because of their flavor or because they look, feel, and seem to soak saliva like dehydrated sponges, I’m not sure the spicy and tangy taste of these Buffalo chicken sandwich-flavored crisps is enough to change your mind or saliva gland’s opinion.

Purchased Price: $2.71 (on sale)
Size: 6.25 oz bag
Purchased at: Longs Drugs
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (about 17 chips) 120 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1 gram of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar (including 2 grams of added sugar), and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Tangy Chili Fusion

I’m not sure if this is true in every region or state, but in the Bay Area of California, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos reign supreme. I would imagine it’s the same in at least Los Angeles, San Diego, and most of Texas, where the youth get adapted to heat seeking at an early age. Whether eaten straight, topped with fresh lime juice, or dunked into cream cheese, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos have felt like a dominant force since they burst onto the snack scene in 1992.

Until relatively recently, though, Frito-Lay has kept it pretty modest with the varieties — Flamin’ Hot, Xxtra Flamin’ Hot, Puffs, and Limon being the only changes that come to mind until 2017’s Chipotle Ranch twist — one of my personal favorites. In recent years the Flamin’ Hot floodgates have opened and the seasoning has popped up on several other chip styles and flavor remixes, including the latest member of Chester Cheeto’s family, Flamin’ Hot Tangy Chili Fusion.

When I first saw the name and color of the bag of this new Cheetos, I envisioned a Flamin’ Hot Cheetos colliding with a purple bagged Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos, and that’s kind of what these are like, but they’re absolutely in a spicy lane of their own, too.

The color is the same menacingly deep red that instantly stains your fingers, with a pungent, spicy, and smoky aroma that wafts from the bag. The most notable flavor that immediately jumps out is the smokiness, which has a sharp and intense bite like chipotle chili peppers. The smokiness quickly evolves into a more familiar Flamin’ Hot spice with just a touch of sweetness and finishes with a legit tangy acidic punch akin to vinegar and lemon juice. Crunching away at these slightly greasy airy delights is no problem at all, with the heat building as you eat, which encourages the salty snacking spiral like no other.

I was expecting a more pronounced sweetness, probably because of my Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos association, but it never really comes, aside from a bit of herbaceous bell peppery flavor. In fact, when tasting these side by side with a bag of Flamin’ Hot Limon, the Tangy Chili Fusion is less sweet and more sharply tangy than the Limon, which has a citrusy sweetness that’s even more pronounced next to the smoky charred tang and bold intensity of the Fusion.

It will be interesting to see how long these stick around because they’re very good, but I’m not sure many would choose them over the original Flamin’ Hot, and I certainly wouldn’t take them over my favorite all-time Cheetos Mexican Street Corn. Tangy Chili Fusion is a fun and surprisingly aggressive twist on a modern classic from the king of spicy, salty snacks.

Purchased Price: $3.98
Size: 8.5 ounces
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (21 pieces, 28g) 150 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, less than 1 grams of total sugars, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Doritos Minis, Cheetos Minis, and Sun Chips Minis

Doritos Minis Cheetos Minis and Sun Chips Minis Cans

Pringles, beware! The tennis ball manufacturer that cut a deal with you years ago is opening up its doors and Frito-Lay is coming in hot. Flamin’ Hot. It has shrunk several of its popular snacks to bite-size form, encased them in tubes, and the results are…mixed.

Nacho Cheese Doritos

Doritos Minis Nacho Cheese

I started with the classic Nacho Cheese Doritos and had high hopes because it’s hard to go wrong with this chip. I think some of the impetus behind this mini concept is the serving size and cuteness factor. People love Goldfish crackers and you can have 55 of them per serving. Wouldn’t it also be nice to have 55 tiny Doritos? It might be, if you could eat them that way. The serving here is 39 little chips, and this tube was a disaster. The contents looked like I’d just dumped out the remnants from a larger bag. There were some intact chips, but the majority had been broken to crumbs. Instead of being a new or adorable way to consume chips, I was left eating handfuls of shards or pouring them into my mouth from the tube.

Doritos Minis Nacho Cheese Can

Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (39 chips) 150 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of total sugars, and 2 grams of protein.

Cool Ranch Doritos

Doritos Minis Cool Ranch

My Cool Ranch canister fared better. They weren’t all shattered from the start. After tasting some individually and also by the handful, I still found these underwhelming. It didn’t seem like they had enough of the seasoning applied to them. The label claims they have the “same BOLD flavor,” but I found them blander than a standard bag. I had this problem with the Nacho Cheese variety too, but it was overshadowed by the other flaws. So far, I’m not sure I understand this product line.

Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (39 chips) 150 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of total sugars, and 2 grams of protein.

Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips

Sun Chips Minis

Here to confuse things more, are Sun Chips! These come in Harvest Cheddar or Garden Salsa. I like Sun Chips; they’re a welcome addition to the variety packs of lunch-size bags but will never be my first choice for a full-size option. I chose Harvest Cheddar and wondered how Garden Salsa also managed to sneak into the lineup. These mini chips have held their square shape better than the Doritos, although there are quite a few broken ones. They also seem appropriately seasoned and have come the closest so far to true miniatures of their inspiration chip. I think they’re a success, but do we need stamp-sized versions of two chips we only occasionally reach for to begin with?

Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (29 chips) 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 2 grams of total sugars, and 2 grams of protein.

Cheddar and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

Things start to make more (or less?) sense when it comes to the Cheetos. Both Cheddar and Flamin’ Hot are cheese balls and aren’t masquerading as tiny regular Cheetos. On the one hand, a bunch of teeny Cheetos would have been cool, and I imagine they would have looked like a tube of Long John Silver’s crumblies. These two are the best tasting of the bunch though, so they’ve gotten something right there.

Cheetos Flamin Hot Minis

They have a thicker and very satisfying outside crunch that yields to a Cheeto-like interior. More regular Cheeto than puff, they get the texture right without being too airy or weird. There are 63 balls per serving and they fall somewhere between a normal cheese ball and a cocoa puff cereal size-wise. Looking at a bowl of these Flamin’ Hot ones, I can’t help but wonder if they should have put them in a box instead of a cylinder and called them cereal, à la Cinnafuego Toast Crunch. I won’t be surprised if this happens in three months.

Rating: 9 out of 10 (Cheddar), 9 out of 10 (Flamin’ Hot)
Nutrition Facts: (63 pieces) Flamin’ Hot – 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 260 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 0 grams of total sugars, and 1 gram of protein. Cheddar – 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 330 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 1 gram of total sugars, and 2 grams of protein.

Doritos Minis Cheetos Minis and Sun Chips Minis Sizes

Overall this mini lineup is a mixed bag, or should I say can. There isn’t anything necessarily wrong with them, but there isn’t anything that makes me want to buy them again either.

Purchased Price: $2.79 each
Size: 1 can
Purchased at: Mariano’s

REVIEW: Cheetos Bolitas Chile & Cheese

Cheetos Bolitas Chile  Cheese Bag

Frito-Lay has decided to increase the number of Cheeto dust variants in the US with the expanded distribution of the Chile & Cheese Cheetos Bolitas. According to the internet, these cheesy spheres were once only available in Mexico but are now making their US debut.

Cheetos Bolitas Chile  Cheese Top

Cheetos Bolitas smell like hot sauce and cheddar straight out of the bag. The burnt red color and smoky chile aroma made me think these might be pretty spicy, but they were definitely in the mild heat index. The initial flavor is bright, like a vinegary hot sauce, and then rounds out to a light cheesy flavor. The brightness is similar to a chile limon-type seasoning but not quite so citrusy. It’s definitely less heavy on the pallet than a cheese-only flavor. I think this also makes them not as cheesy as US Cheetos products.

What surprised me most was the distinct corn meal flavor from the base puff. The corn flavor comes through strong and leaves a lasting corn meal aftertaste. It’s pleasant but definitely different compared to some of the US versions of Cheetos products in their varied formats. The Bolitas are light and airy but have that fried oil exterior shell that clings to cheese powder and seasonings so well.

Cheetos Bolitas Chile  Cheese Bowl

Like any Cheetos product, though, these definitely cover your fingers in a tasty Cheeto dust with the same vinegar brightness and cheese flavor as the Bolitas. Yum. Overall I thought these were tasty and very snackable. I think it’s fantastic that we’re starting to see some expanded distribution of international flavors as innovations from Frito-Lay. Does this mean we might also see the return of All Dressed Ruffles in the States again? I’m All for it!

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 6 oz bag
Purchased at: Woodman’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (about 32 pieces) 170 Calories, 12 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.