Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tantalizing your taste buds


I'm sure by now most people have seen the commercial with Eva Longoria losing her mind over which of three potato chip flavors are her "new favorite" and then after she says she can't decide pitchman Chef Michael Symon tells us we will decide which one is America's favorite by voting by May 5th.

Now, we're not talking about deciding between mundane things like Barbeque, Sea Salt or Plain. Competing to break into the Lay's Potato Chip line up are Sriracha, Cheesy Garlic Bread and Chicken & Waffles!!

These three flavors were the top finalists in a contest held late last year where people could submit their own flavor ideas, and then vote on submissions. (I submitted Spicy Shawarma, a Middle Eastern treat!!).

If any of those three finalists sound odd to you, consider these mouthwatering options: Marshmallow, Watermelon, Bubble Gum, Mint Chocolate Chip. I kid you not. When I was going through voting I saw those among the options we could vote on.

One of the biggest problems has actually been getting my hands on a bag of any of the finalists so I could make an educated choice. Not sure if it was a case of under estimating demand, or an intentional scarcity to bump up popularity.

In either case, with the exception of the first week they went on sale, they have been scarcer than Hen's teeth, to the point that people were selling bags on for $25!! And to think I cringed at the $4.29 MSRP.

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Here are my thoughts after having been able to sample the chips.

SRIRACHA – This was my pre-sample favorite. I love chili and hot spicy foods. For those that don't know it, Sriracha is that bright red chili paste sauce you may have seen at your favorite Asian restaurant. It comes in a tall plastic bottle with a neon green cap, and usually has a rooster or tiger on the label.

Sadly, this flavor just didn't hold up well when compared to foods that I've drenched with copious amounts of the spicy sweet goodness of Sriracha, and never stood up and said, "HEY THERE DUDE!! IT'S SRIRACHA TIME!!"

CHICKEN & WAFFLES – Of the three flavors, this one has probably generated the most Internet chatter. People seem to either be intrigued by the idea, or repulsed by it.

For those that can't figure the combo out, it's a traditional late night, after the bars close, menu item that originated in Harlem, New York (despite all the non-Southerners trying to claim it's a Southern thing).

With an open mind, I finally got the chance to try this most sought after flavor just last Sunday.

It starts off with a syrupy sweetness which reminded me of Mrs. Butterworth's Butter Flavored Pancake Syrup. Then the back of your tongue kicks in and delivers a flavor reminiscent, not so much of chicken itself, but of the golden fried batter you get on the outside of a properly crispy crunchy piece of fried chicken.

As much as I did find the Chicken & Waffles flavor tasty, it wasn't to the point where I'd want to buy a big bag and wolf it down in one or two sittings. Admittedly never a good idea, but a sign of a good flavor.

CHEESY GARLIC BREAD – This was actually the first flavor I was able to get a hold of, and the one I originally thought I'd be least likely to vote for. It just sounded too normal compared to the more exotic offerings.

As I was eating this flavor, it honestly tasted like I was eating a piece of French Bread, crispy from the oven, with that garlic and parmesan butter, spread you can buy, slathered all over it. The garlic was just right.

So in the end, the flavor I thought I'd be least likely to vote for earned by vote. Now, will just have to wait to see which one earns a place next to other Lay's flavors such as Dill Pickle Chip, BLT and Honey Mesquite Barbeque.

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