Friday, March 18, 2016

Is this really a Gouda idea?


The last few years Frito-Lay has run the Do Us a Flavor campaign, where people could submit flavor concoctions they savored. Some were wonderful, while others left any sane person scratching their head.

Alas, they’ve come up with a new idea  for 2016 called Flavor Swap, which matches four current flavors vs. four newcomers; let the “best” flavor win, with the losers being banished to potato chip history.

I still hold out hope that someday Sizzlin’ Shawarma will be on most grocery store shelves across America! But, until that day arrives, and in the interest of do diligence, I offer you my critique of the new flavors, and how they hold up against the old standbys.

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Smoked Gouda & Chive vs. Cheddar & Sour Cream

SMOKED GOUDA & CHIVE: Pleasant aroma. But, I’m not picking up smoked Gouda. I have to try really hard to pick up a Smoked Gouda flavor too. At first taste, it actually reminded me of a light Camembert. Not what they were going for, I’m sure. Any chive was lost on me.

CHEDDAR & SOUR CREAM: With one whiff from the open bag, there’s no question what this flavor is supposed to be. The aroma of medium cheddar is readily obvious. As for the flavor, while the cheddar is definitely there too, the “sour cream” part makes it not as obvious.

WINNER: Cheddar & Sour Cream

No question for me here. There was no doubt of the cheddar flavor when having the older variety. While the Smoked Gouda & Chive wasn’t bad, it just didn’t hit me with what it was supposed to be like the newcomer.

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Fiery Roasted Habanero vs. Flamin’ Hot

FIERY ROASTED HABANERO: Pretty nondescript aroma. More potato aroma than habanero. Slight smokiness to the flavor. Not as strong as I’d expected. Spiciness is there. No question about the heat. It hits you almost immediately when you start eating. Not a blast furnace. But, a pleasant level of heat. None of that terrible bright orange dust I honestly expected to see.

FLAMIN’ HOT: The ambiguous name leaves a little doubt of what it is exactly supposed to be. Perhaps jalapeƱo? Slight peppery aroma to it. Chips have that artificial bright red color to them. Heat takes quite a while to build up compared to the habanero version. More smoky flavor here, though there’s an underlying hint of a BBQ sweetness which  really didn’t belong.

WINNER: Fiery Roasted Habanero

I like the heat better in this one, along with the more natural color. The flavor is closer to peppers than the Flamin’ Hot.

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Kettle Cooked Olive Oil & Herbs vs. Kettle Cooked Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper

OLIVE OIL & HERBS: Opening the bag there’s a wonderful herby aroma of rosemary and thyme. The herb flavor you get is light and compliments the olive oil flavor. It’s not overwhelming, which is a good thing.

SEA SALT & CRACKED PEPPER: The salt is pretty light, just enough to compliment the pepper. The pepper is clearly there. Not very hot when you first taste the chip. But, there’s no mistaking it as something other than freshly ground black pepper. I like the thickness of the kettle cooked chips. Surprisingly there’s no really oily flavor to them, as some kettle-cooked chips can have. I’d buy these again, especially with some plain sour cream to cool off the black pepper.

WINNER: Olive Oil & Herbs

As much as I like a good salt & pepper chip, the perfect balance of the olive oil and herbs is definitely a keeper!

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Korean Barbeque vs. Honey Barbeque

Let me preface all this by saying I LOVE BAR-B-QUE! There’s something like the fall off the bone goodness of slow smoked pork ribs and brisket.

KOREAN BARBEQUE: Odd aroma. It’s not huge so you might have to go looking for it. But, it’s there, and I’m not exactly sure what it’s supposed to be.

Flavor-wise they start out delicate. But, as you eat more, first comes soy and sesame, followed by roasted meat (reminded me more of chicken than the beef on the bag label), garlic and other spices. Finally, the sweetness follows on the backend. After all is done, I’m left with an aftertaste that definitely reminds me of Korean BBQ.

HONEY BARBEQUE: The aroma is muted at best, and not even as noticeable as the Korean one was. Plus, it really didn’t scream BBQ to me.

There’s no “meat” flavor in this one. It reminds me of a light version of the BBQ chips I had way back in elementary school, just minus the red powder that always used to decorate your hands after sticking them deep into the bag.

WINNER: Korean Barbeque

Truthfully, pretty much a wash. But, since the Honey BBQ is so close to normal BBQ flavor, I think I’ll be voting for the Korean version just to get some variety.

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So overall, it seems I liked the newer flavors better. But, it could have went either way on a couple. I’d suggest the new campaign was a flop, and didn’t peek my interest like trying new flavors did. But, marketing did accomplish one thing. I ended up buying eight bags of chips, compared to the four I did each of the last couple of years.

You have until this coming Monday, March 21st, to cast your votes at