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!

REVIEW: Lay’s Frank’s RedHot Hot Sauce Potato Chips

Lay s Frank s RedHot Hot Sauce Potato Chips

I have been known to liberally drown potato chips (and all chips, really) in excessive amounts of hot sauce. I tend to make a bit of a mess when doing this, but it’s absolutely worth it. So, I feel fairly qualified to review the new Lay’s Frank’s RedHot Hot Sauce Potato Chips (that’s a mouthful).

Previously, Lay’s released a Tapatio potato chip that I enjoyed. In that case, it wasn’t as good as putting actual Tapatio on potato chips, but it was still a winner. I set my expectations for a similar experience here, even though Frank’s and Tapatio are different beasts entirely.

These new chips from Lay’s hit my nostrils with a welcoming aroma of spice, not unlike that of the Tapatio or other spicy chips that I’ve had. With these, however, there is a very prevalent fragrance of vinegar. It’s not the same sensation as smelling the hot sauce directly, but it does evoke memories of it.

Lay s Frank s RedHot Hot Sauce Potato Chips Closeup

They are appropriately orange, much like a barbecue chip. I was worried there was going to be obnoxious bright red powder coating them, which I’m not a fan of. The tried-and-true Lay’s crunch is the first thing I notice. Not that I was expecting anything different, I feel obligated to mention it.

There is a strong taste of vinegar and some noticeable cayenne pepper flavor. They have all the components of Frank’s RedHot and conjure up its essence. There are also elements of garlic and onion. They’re a tasty chip, but not quite the same as pouring the hot sauce on a plain potato chip.

The heat is interesting. They’re pretty mild at first, with a few rogue spicy chips mixed in. After eating more, though, a slow burn kicks in. It was a touch spicier than I was expecting, which made for a nice surprise (but still not as hot as I would like).

Frank’s is far from my favorite hot sauce, but it will always do in a pinch. That’s how I feel about these chips. I would prefer to have the Tapatio Lay’s back, but these totally work. It would be fantastic if Lay’s branched out and partnered up with more hot sauce companies in the future.

Purchased Price: $1.68
Size: 7 3/4 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (15 chips) 150 calories, 9 grams of fat,1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Lay’s Sea Salt & Vinegar Poppables

Lay s Salt  Vinegar Poppables

To determine whether you’ll love Lay’s Sea Salt & Vinegar Poppables, you have to ask yourself three simple questions.

  1. Do you like salt and vinegar potato chips?
  2. Do you enjoy the crispy texture of Lay’s Poppables?
  3. If it was discontinued, would you send a tear-jerking email to Frito-Lay about how there’s now a hole in your heart that could only be filled with Lay’s Salt & Vinegar Poppables?

If you said “yes” to all three questions, I now pronounce you husband and life snack or wife and life snack. You may now eat your life snack.

Well, actually, if you said “yes” to the first two questions, then you’ll probably end up enjoying this salty and tangy version of the airy potato snack. It has the same flavor you’d taste with Lay’s original and Kettle Cooked Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips, and the same satisfying crispiness as all the other Lay’s Poppables.

It’s exactly what I expected, and I LOVED them.

Yes, past tense.

That deep affection from eating the first few handfuls blinded me from realizing something disheartening about Poppables — there’s not much of it in the bag.

When I mindlessly eat regular or Kettle Cooked salt and vinegar potato chips, which happens more often than I’d like to admit, I can look into the bag after munching for a while and see that I’ve put a noticeable dent into what’s there. But there’s still a lot left.

Lay s Salt  Vinegar Poppables 1

With these Poppables, I did the same mindless eating, and when I checked to see how much was left, I was shocked that three-fourths of the bag was gone.

I guess I never paid attention to how much is stuffed inside. A regular bag of Kettle Cooked has eight ounces, and standard Lay’s has 7.75. Poppables has just five.

So that made me ask myself, “How much do I like Poppables’ crispiness?” Is it enough for me to overlook the fact that I can get more salty and tangy munching satisfaction with its crunchier chip cousins?

I took a hard look at myself in a mirror and thought I didn’t truly LOVE Lay’s Sea Salt & Vinegar Poppables. I really like them, and I’d take them over any other Poppables variety, but if they ever go away, I won’t be writing a sad email to Frito-Lay. I’ll move on and chomp Lay’s Kettle Cooked Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips.

Purchased Price: $5.89*
Size: 5 oz. bag
Purchased at: Times Supermarket
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (about 28 pieces) 140 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. You’ll probably pay less than I did.

REVIEW: Lay’s Kettle Cooked Flamin’ Hot Potato Chips

Lay s Kettle Cooked Flamin Hot Potato Chips

I feel certain there’s a chapter in the anthologies of Snacking Americana dedicated to Frito-Lay’s Flamin’ Hot.

This iconic seasoning, which started on the hallowed Cheeto, has now donned the surface of nearly every chip, crisp, and crunchy snack the company produces. In 2019, Forever 21 even launched a Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Collection and rumors of a Flamin’ Hot Cheetos origin story movie spread like, well, wildfire.

The challenge in this frenzy of Flamin’ Hot obsession is for the snack company to launch new products that aren’t just flavored with the seasoning but offer a different eating experience from the fire truck red snacks that have already been bestowed upon us. Enter, Lay’s Kettle Cooked Flamin’ Hot.

Lay s Kettle Cooked Flamin Hot Potato Chips Closeup

Their appearance immediately lives up to expectation. They are BRIGHT RED and look to be fully coated in the Flamin’ Hot seasoning, true to the front-of-bag image. It also seems like more of the chips are completely covered in the seasoning as compared to the plain Lay’s Flamin’ Hot. Maybe that has to do with the kettle cook method and how the seasoning clings to oil? I’m not sure, but it definitely adds to their appeal.

So, do they hold up to the tried and true Flamin’ Hot fame?

Oh, hell yeah. These chips rock.

As was previously mentioned in other TIB reviews, the flat chip shape (compared to the Cheeto shape) means that you can place a full crunchy layer of fiery flavored madness over your entire tongue at once. With a Cheeto, there’s way less available surface area, and your teeth take most of the direct hit. With these chips, the flavor is intense right away, in the best way. I also think the kettle cooked texture delivers a more satisfying crunch than plain potato chips. I’m surprised this variety didn’t launch sooner.

I was particularly happy with the cheesiness that comes through, a flavor which is lacking in the Lay’s Flamin’ Hot traditional potato chip variety. After going through a few historic Flamin’ Hot launches, it looks like “cheddar cheese” moves around in the ingredient line, sometimes not present at all. My recommendation to Frito-Lay would be to keep it in any future products because it adds a critical flavor element.

The cheesiness balances the heat beautifully and, when combined with the sturdy crunch of a kettle cooked chip, makes this one of the best all-around chips I’ve had in a long time. It was hard not to eat the entire bag in one sitting. And of course, your fingers will be left with the signature Flamin’ Hot red Cheetle.

Lay s Kettle Cooked Flamin Hot Potato Chips Cheetle??I will say, the one ever so slightly negative thing I have to say about these is that five minutes after eating about two servings worth, my tongue went numb to any other flavors for roughly half an hour. I’m no stranger to spicy things, so this surprised me a little, but didn’t bother me much at all. These chips are worth it.

Upholding their Flamin’ Hot family legacy, these kettle cooked chips receive my most heartfelt 10/10 rating and earnest recommendation for your snacking needs in 2020.

Purchased Price: $3.18
Size: 8 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 10 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (about 18 chips) 150 calories, 9 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Lay’s Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup Potato Chips

Lay s Grilled Cheese  Tomato Soup Potato Chips

There are some of you who are looking at Lay’s new Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup Potato Chips and thinking to yourself, “Dammit! That was MY Lay’s Do Us a Flavor submission! Frito-Lay stole my idea!” or “Dammit! Lay’s ripped that flavor idea out of my head! This tinfoil hat I made doesn’t work!”

If you have no ill will towards Lay’s, I’d recommend purchasing a bag of this limited time flavor if you’re interested in experiencing the comfort food combination of tomato soup and grilled cheese without having to worry about burning your mouth with savory liquid or getting your fingers greasy with buttered bread.

I’d also recommend this new variety if you like pizza. I’ll get to that in a few moments.

Lay s Grilled Cheese  Tomato Soup Potato Chips Closeup

The crunchy fried potato slices look like they might taste either super cheesy or a little spicy, but they are neither. They smell more cheesy than tomato soup-y, but that flips when being eaten. The tomato is sweet, slightly acidic, and at the forefront from the first chomp.

The cheese is still around but in the background of the chip’s flavor. Also, like with Lay’s previous sandwich-flavored chips, it tastes as if the food scientists were able to add a little bread flavoring, or maybe that’s my imagination. But what I do know is real is that Lay’s Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup Potato Chips are delightful.

The flavor profile is easily recognizable. However, as someone who has dipped his hands into many bag-shaped universes of chips, the combination of tomato and cheese, at times, reminds me of pizza-flavored snacks. But if you think about it, it does make sense since pizza is a few food chromosomes away from tomato soup and grilled cheese.

These chips aren’t as comforting or warming as a grilled cheese sandwich dipped into hot tomato soup. But, since chips go well with sandwiches, this crunchy snack would make an appropriate and tasty side.

DISCLOSURE: I received a free sample of the product from Lay’s PR team. Well, actually, I received two bags and ate half of one within 30 minutes for, um, testing purposes. Getting free samples did not influence my review. Although I can totally see how some might think so. But I assure you it did not.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 7 3/4 oz. bag
Purchased at: Received from Lay’s PR
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (about 15 chips) 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 180 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Lay’s Turn Up the Flavor Potato Chips

Lay s Turn Up the Flavor Potato Chips

After the success of the regionally-inspired “Do Us a Flavor” chips, Lay’s is back with something new – chips inspired by genres of music.

ARE Y’ALL READY TO TURN UP THE FLAVOR?!

I’ll take that tepid response as a “yes.”

Like snack preference, musical taste is subjective, but I’m gonna try to compare each new chip flavor to a song from the genre they’re inspired by.

Tonight’s opening act is Classic Beer Cheese.

I guess Lay’s took the classic “rock” inspiration literally by making these “hard as a rock” kettle chips.

The chips smell like cheese, but not much like beer. The initial taste is that of flat pilsner followed by a muted indiscriminate cheese taste. I was hoping for a sharp cheddar flavor, but it’s dulled down a bit by that faint hint of a beer you may have consumed ten minutes prior.

Lay s Turn Up the Flavor Classic Beer Cheese Potato Chips

As with every kettle chip I’ve ever had, they tasted kinda stale, and I wished these were just a regular chip, but I know people love this style. They’re fine but didn’t rock my socks off like I thought they would. I prefer Kettle Brand’s Cheddar Beer flavor, which are the only other beer cheese chips I’ve tasted.

Inspired by the classic rock genre, the beverage featured, and the lightning bolt in the name, I’ll compare these to a solid rock song I never need to hear again in my life – Have a Drink On Me by AC/DC.

Whatever, no one comes to see the opening act anyway.

Next up to the stage is, Flamin’ Hot Dill Pickle Remix!

Here we have a Hip-Hop inspired continuation of Frito Lay’s brand-crossing Flamin’ Hot line, and they’re exactly as advertised.

Lay s Turn Up the Flavor Flamin Hot Dill Pickle Remix Potato Chips

The smell from the bag is amazing. There’s heat as well as that aroma of popping the lid off a pickle jar. The chips may be a mess, but they taste like pickles. Imagine dipping a pickle in hot sauce, and that’s essentially what you get. The heat is a nice complementary Hype Man for the pickle. I mean, these may have been slightly better without the Flamin’ Hot element, but that wouldn’t be very “hip-hop,” now would it?

I’ll compare these to a classic hip hop track that fires me up so much I can only listen in small doses – Ante Up by M.O.P.

And now ladies and gentlemen, give it up for your headliner, Electric Lime & Sea Salt!

So, upon opening this bag, there were some technical difficulties.

I was taken completely aback by the scent of expired cold cuts took me completely aback. It was confusing, to say the least. Most pop music stinks, so maybe I didn’t realize how literal they were with the inspired genre?

Lay s Turn Up the Flavor Electric Lime  Sea Salt Potato Chips

Despite the smell, I trudged on, and I am glad I did. The initial smell cleared a bit and I was left with a nearly flawless potato chip. I like these better than any single “Do Us a Flavor” release.

There’s nothing crazy here, it’s just a wavy chip flavored with lime and sea salt, and it works so damn well. If you’ve ever had Tostito’s Hint of Lime (the best tortilla chip in the aisle, IMO), it’s that except it somehow works even better on a ridged potato chip.

I polished off the bag in two sittings.

I tried to think of a pop song I initially thought was a giant fart bomb but almost instantly changed my mind on. There’s only one fairly recent pop song I could recall that hit me, and it CAME IN LIKE A WRECKING BALL.

“Did he just hype Miley Cyrus while basically calling AC/DC average earlier?”

He did. Wrecking Ball is great. You like it, and you know it. You’ll like these chips too, even if they’re a guilty pleasure.

I wouldn’t be upsetting if any of these become mainstays, but Lime & Sea Salt is elite. Now that the former King of Pop is “canceled,” we should pass the name on to these chips.

Lay’s needs to expand on this new line. Gimmie a country-inspired flavor. Classical. Whatever you call that electro-techno music. Bring ’em on. Here’s hoping they turn up some more varieties. We need an encore.

Purchased Price: $2.50 each
Size: 7.5 oz. bags
Purchased at: Wegmans
Rating: 5 out of 10 Classic Beer Cheese)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Flamin’ Hot Dill Pickle Remix)
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Electric Lime & Sea Salt)
Nutrition Facts: (15 chips) Classic Beer Cheese – 150 calories, 9 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 grams of sodium, 165 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein. Flamin’ Hot Dill Pickle Remix – 150 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 grams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein. Electric Lime & Sea Salt – 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 135 grams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.