REVIEW: Lay’s Salsa Fresca Potato Chips

Every time I see a bag of Lay’s potato chips, I am reminded of the brand’s famous slogan, a testament to the enduring brilliance of advertising: “Betcha can’t eat just one!”

While it’s a bet most of us would lose, I have always found tortilla chips and salsa to be the more addictive snack: the salt, the crunch, the heat, the sweet and juicy tomatoes, the urge to eat an entire bowl as your meal at the Mexican restaurant while the waiter casts judgmental glares in your direction!

Merging two snack food kings into one limited edition summer flavor, Lay’s Salsa Fresca potato chips promise a rich, zesty crunch inspired by fresh summer tomato salsa. Betcha can’t eat just half the bag?

Well, there are always loopholes in self-control, and here’s one for this product: it takes somewhere between one and twenty crunches to experience this flavor fully. Deliciously light and crispy, each chip is coated with savory red tomato powder, which is the dominant flavor throughout the bag. The taste reminds me so much of SpaghettiOs—concentrated and a little sweet without being ketchup-like—but I’m not mad about it.

In the first few bites, a faint tickle of spice rises near the back of the throat. Although jalapeños are featured on the packaging, the chip seasoning captures the pepper’s spice without its earthy flavor. The result is a salty, zesty heat that builds, but very slowly. Like a clumsy person navigating an icy sidewalk, it takes its time and risks no fancy footwork. The tickle evolves to broad warmth across the mouth but never gets too intense.

In the aftertaste, I detect some garlic, as well as a little tang. I attribute the tanginess to the sour cream listed in the ingredients, a delicious side in its own right but a curious addition to salsa fresca. Every few chips, the tang turns sharp and vaguely reminds me of lime. Other flavors associated with salsa fresca—like cilantro and onion—are not present.

While the chips represent several key salsa ingredients, the flavors are simple and unfold in stages rather than as one cohesive bite. Overall, the chip is tasty, salty, and snackable, but its flavor is predominantly tomato powder with a building kick.

As a limited edition summer product, Lay’s Salsa Fresca potato chips scratch that salty, snacky itch that plagues me as I wait for my tomato plants to bloom. It’s a fun flavor, but replaceable in my snacking repertoire. I’ll gladly eat more than one (chip), but not more than one (bag).

Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 7 3/4 oz (219.7 g) bag
Purchased at: Wegmans
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per serving, about 15 chips) 150 calories, 9 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Takis Waves Dragon Sweet Chili and Blue Heat Potato Chips

Blue 1 Lake food dye needs to be in more potato chips beyond these new Takis Waves Blue Heat. Yes, Takis Blue Heat and its color have been around for years, but despite eating all kinds of snacks for decades, this is the first time my eyeballs and mouth have experienced it. And after seeing the color in person, it makes me want to see it with more chips. Did I mention blue is my favorite color?

If you’re also unfamiliar with Blue Heat, which would be an excellent name for a Smurf fan fiction cop drama, they have an unassuming aroma, but that’s the only restrained attribute. They look like what I imagine would happen if Gargamel finally got his hands on a Smurf and used his recipe for Smurf jerky. It starts with a strong peppery flavor with a hint of lime hitting taste buds a bit later. Also, I swear there’s some soy sauce hiding among the chili peppers. It’s a tasty combo, and I understand why it’s a standard Takis variety. The packaging says these have “Extreme” heat, and while they are spicy, they’re not so hot that the flavor gets lost. My eyes are fascinated with Takis Waves Blue Heat Potato Chips, and my mouth needs something cool after trying them.

My eyes are less impressed with the new Takis Waves Dragon Sweet Chili, which come in a color we’ve often seen on cheesy or hot chips. The flavor debuted with the standard rolled Takis last year, which I enjoyed. They’re noticeably less spicy than the Blue Heat ones but are as flavorful. Here’s how I described the seasoning when I tried the rolled tortilla chip version:

Their initial flavor reminded me of Fritos Honey BBQ Flavor Twists, which is my favorite Fritos variety and not at all spicy. However, by the third chip, the taste morphed into something a bit more unique, with the garlic powder and cayenne peppers making themselves more noticeable. Throughout it all, the sweetness remained and helped cut through the spiciness.

With these potato chips, I didn’t get that initial taste that reminded me of my favorite Fritos flavor, which is understandable since these have a potato base. Instead, I immediately tasted the garlic powder, cayenne, and the seasoning’s sweetness. It too was a tasty combo.

Dragon Sweet Chili and Blue Heat are fantastic additions to the Takis Waves Potato Chip line. If you’re a fan of either or both flavors, they’re worth picking up.

DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary product samples from Takis. Doing so did not influence my review.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 0.59 oz bags
Purchased at: Received from Takis
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Dragon Sweet Chili), 8 out of 10 (Blue Heat)
Nutrition Facts: (1 package) Dragon Sweet Chili – 90 calories, 6 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein. Blue Heat – 90 calories, 6 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 110 milligrams of sodium, 8 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Lay’s Sweet & Spicy Honey Potato Chips

Hot honey is taking over.

We’ve got hot honey chicken, hot honey pizza, hot honey pretzels, and hot honey buns. Actually, I don’t know about that one. Do hot honey buns exist? Has Little Debbie ventured into the world of hot honey buns yet? I wanna Google, “Little Debbie’s Hot Honey Buns,” but I’m afraid I’ll get put on a list.

Ya know what? I’m just gonna drop this train of thought and … oh hot honey chips! Those exist too. Herr’s makes ’em. Utz makes ’em. Pringles had some delicious hot honey crisps, so it’s no shocker that Lay’s has joined the fray with Sweet & Spicy Honey Chips.

The bag boasts, “Sweet. Spicy. Golden. Crunch,” and I’m not one to argue with a bag.

I’ll get to the first three words, but first, I wanna highlight the fourth word because the crunch might be the standout. By all accounts, they’re standard Lay’s chips, but I swear they’re crunchier. They’re not kettle, but if a chip could exist somewhere between regular and kettle, that’s these, and I love it. I don’t think it was a freshness issue. These felt like Lay’s tweaked its iconic recipe.

As for the flavor – I say this as a culinary inept American dude – I think it leans into a Chinese-inspired territory. Something about the combination of the spicy pepper and vague sweetness instantly made me think of Chinese flavors.

Even the red, scaly bag design made me think along those lines. If you told me these chips were limited edition “Year of the Dragon: Spicy Szechwan” flavored Lay’s, I wouldn’t argue.

The chips hit you with a mildly sweet honey flavor on the nose, then quickly chase that with a tolerable heat ideal for sustained snacking. I always rate spicy snacks on the “Flamin’ Hot” scale, and these probably reach about 80% of that.

I’ll say this, while they don’t exactly taste the same, all I thought about were Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos. In fact, I was bummed I wasn’t eating said Doritos, the G.D.O.A.T. Purple bag supremacy, no other flavor stacks up. Don’t @ me.

Using my confusing percentages again, I’d say the flavor here lands at about 63.7% on the Doritos Spicy Sweet Chili scale I just made up that will now be used to rate all food from now on.

Lay’s Sweet & Spicy Honey Potato Chips are solid but should’ve been sweeter. I’d actually probably like a bit more heat as well. They taste like a “lite” version of what the flavors should’ve been.

The ingredients list Cheddar, Monterey Jack and Swiss Cheese, but they aren’t cheesy. I tried to force a cheese flavor to manifest but to no avail. I still remain a little stumped by the ingredients.

So yeah, these aren’t bad. I got a little indigestion, but I loved the texture and liked the flavor. For all I know, I just had a weird bag, but they’re good overall. They’d probably go great crunched up inside a sandwich.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m… I’m gonna Google it. Curiosity killed the fat.

Purchased Price: $4.29
Size: 7 3/4 oz bag
Purchased at: Shop Rite
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (15 Chips) 150 calories, 10 grams of fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of total sugars, 1 gram of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Lay’s IHOP Rooty Tooty Fresh’ N Fruity Potato Chips

If you’re in Camp Savory Potato Chips Only and think potato chips with sweetness are an abomination, and you feel sorry for the potatoes that were used to make them, um, I’d avoid these Lay’s IHOP Rooty Tooty Fresh’ N Fruity Potato Chips. The Walmart-exclusive flavor features a seasoning that tastes like strawberry-topped pancakes with syrup and bacon.

These have a strong pancake syrup aroma that reminds me of many maple-flavored products I’ve smelled, but no fruitiness or bacon-ness wafts from these. Their pink hue makes them look like they’re coated with what I imagine Flamin’ Warm seasoning would look like. If Lay’s decides to offer cotton candy-flavored potato chips, it has the blue, um, pinkprint to make those the appropriate color.

Its flavor is surprisingly delightful and is as fun as saying, “Rooty Tooty Fresh’ N Fruity.” The strawberry flavoring, which comes from strawberry powder, stands out the most, and it also gives these a slight tanginess. Then, there’s the pancake syrup taste that provides each bite with a burst of sweetness. There’s no butteriness or anything that tastes like an actual pancake, but the syrup flavor does a great job of getting your tongue and head to think of flapjacks.

Finally, there’s the bacon. Having tried Lay’s Bacon Potato Chips, I’m familiar with the brand’s approach to the porky slices, but I don’t taste it here. However, the chips have an underlying greasiness that could be a stand-in for the breakfast meat. These also have some stevia on them, but I don’t notice any of the off flavors I’ve tasted from drinking stevia-sweetened stuff.

I really love these, but they’re a one-night snack stand. Now that I’ve tried them, if given a choice between these and Original Lay’s Potato Chips (or any other standard Lay’s flavor), I’d pick the savory one because they’re more versatile. Like with regular potato chips, we can eat them as a snack or as a side with a turkey sandwich, burger, or hot dog for a meal. But with these, I can’t imagine eating them with any of those. Maybe Lay’s wants us to eat them with breakfast sandwiches. Breakfast chips?!

Lay’s IHOP Rooty Tooty Fresh’ N Fruity Potato Chips were fun to try and a fascinating Frito-Lay food scientist flavor flex. But I wouldn’t repurchase a bag if they were a permanent flavor, as tasty as they are. However, if you’re not in Camp Savory Potato Chips Only and haven’t tried them, they are worth a try.

Purchased Price: More than one should pay on eBay*
Size: 7 3/4 oz bag
Purchased at: eBay (Exclusive to Walmart stores)
Rating: 7 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, 140 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar (including 1 gram of added sugar), and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Ruffles Flamin’ Hot Queso Cheese Potato Chips

Do you like a “Groundhog Day” movie premise as much as I do? You know, the movies centered around a character who relives the same day over and over again. You’d think once they’d done the Bill Murray classic, it would be ironic and un-original to make it again. Yet, we still have fantastic films like “Edge of Tomorrow” (the action version), “Happy Death Day” (the thriller version), “The Map of Tiny Perfect Things” (the romcom version), and of course “Palm Springs” (the Andy Samberg version). All of these movies are pretty great in their own unique twist of a classic theme. In much the same way, I come to you today with a review of Flamin’ Hot Queso Cheese Ruffles. Sure, you’ve probably had a really similar chip, but now these also exist.

They have the same distinct color found on other Flamin’ Hot line extensions. The flavor is overwhelmingly cheesy and balanced very well with the heat from the pepper. In fact, I’d almost say these don’t quite live up to the spiciness of other Flamin’ Hot varieties launched recently, but I think that’s a good thing in this case. It makes them much more addictive.

I was curious how these differed from the Flamin’ Hot Cheddar Sour Cream Ruffles (the LeBron bag) currently on shelves and could only dig up one or two minor discrepancies. First, the ingredient lines between this and the LeBron version are nearly identical. Apart from a few items being in different sequential order, the Queso chips have a few extra spices (onion and garlic powder) and no sour cream or butter. If you’re thinking that difference doesn’t sound enormous, I agree with you. These chips taste A LOT like the standard Flamin’ Hot Sour Cream and Cheddar Ruffles, but these are much more cheese-forward and the heat packs less of a punch.

The second difference is that these have the lil’ smiley guy in the corner, designating them as a Sabritas item (also owned by Frito-Lay and largely distributed in Mexico). I don’t think this necessarily makes a difference except to possibly justify why such a similar chip could launch with a different balance of cheese and heat.

I also decided to try the original Queso Ruffles against the Flamin’ Hot Queso Ruffles. The OG lacks heat and red color but has the same strong savory cheese flavor. I think heat lovers might be slightly let down by the heat offered in the Flamin’ Hot Queso version, but I’ll double down and say again that I prefer this balance. It makes the chips far more enjoyable overall.

If I had to live one day repeatedly, I wouldn’t be upset if it included these chips. I’m docking a point for lack of originality since the formulas look to be nearly a replicate of a chip that already exists, but I can’t deny how tasty these are. Did I already say that? Oh well, déjà vu.

Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: 8 oz bag
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (13 chips) 150 calories, 10 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.