Friday, August 1, 2014

Wasabi and Mango and Cappuccino…OH MY!!

About 16 months ago Frito-Lay came up with a big marketing campaign where consumers would vote for one of three flavors to join the ever growing list of potato chips.

The reward for submitting the eventual winning flavor? ONE MILLION DOLLARS!! As you can imagine, there were thousands of entries.

After much fan fair, Cheesy Garlic Bread won the right to stick around over Sriracha and Chicken & Waffles.

It deserved it as it tasted the closest to what it was supposed to be after my unscientific sampling.

I guess the powers that be were happy with the results as the Do Us a Flavor contest is back!

This time we've got four new flavors to tantalize our taste buds, including the first sweet entry to make the finalists.

Unlike last year, I have been able to find all three flavors pretty much immediately. I did have to do a little searching for the Lay’s Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger flavor.

For whatever reason Frito-Lay decided to release two of their finalists in their classic potato chips, while the third is Wavy and the fourth is a Kettle-cooked option.

However, they didn't think their marketing through. All their displays show off only the first three, and you have to go elsewhere in the store to find the Kettle-cooked variety. Plus the Kettle-cooked are more expensive.

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Here are my thoughts after sampling the chips.

CAPPUCCINO – When we think of potato chips we generally think savory. At least, that's what I normally think of. But, that didn't stop lots of people from submitting flavors that are sweet. (Can anyone say Cotton Candy Potato Chips? EEK!).

Cappuccino is the first sweet variety to make it into the finals, and I wonder whether it was added at the last second just to see how things go as they've bumped the finalists up to four this year.

With much trepidation I popped open the bag somewhat preparing to be mortified.

First thing that hit me was the aroma. Most definitely reminded me of a steaming hot cup of cappuccino. Then came the taste test.

To be perfectly honest, this isn't half bad. It's not overly sweet. Just enough sweetness, and it's actually pretty balanced because I don't particularly taste the potato flavor you get in a lot of other flavored chips. This is a plus for any sweet flavored chip.

CHEDDAR BACON MAC & CHEESE – What's probably the number one comfort food in America? Mac & Cheese!! (If it's not it should be). All that cheesy goodness slathered over the top of warm macaroni. Then sprinkle crispy bacon, and bake till it's got that crunchy top. YUM!

A cheesy aroma came out of the bag. Nothing really different than the other cheese-based varieties.

Regarding the taste, the first thing I noticed was the macaroni part. Not overly cheesy. The bacon didn't show up until after a few seconds.

Sadly, the more chips you ate, the less the unique flavors could be noticed.

KETTLE COOKED WASABI GINGER – At any good sushi restaurant you always get a side of wasabi paste and pickled ginger to go with your meal. I guess it's the Japanese version of ketchup and mustard at the hot dog stand.

What's interesting about this variety is that they're a kettle-cooked style. The biggest difference is they're thicker than your normal chip, and they seem crispier. Not sure if it's by using a higher temp or longer time.

The aroma was rather muted when opening these. Wasabi was definitely in the nose. But, not ginger.

I was surprised how delicate the flavors were. Most noticeable was the wasabi. It wasn't blast furnace burn your sinuses hot like what happens if you put too much wasabi on your sushi. It was just enough so you knew what it was.

The ginger showed up a little later. But, as with the bacon in the mac & cheese flavor, it was more pronounced after you ate the chip, than as you were eating it. On the plus side it didn't get lost the more chips you consumed.

WAVY MANGO SALSA – Some people cringe at the idea of salsas that contain anything but tomato as the basic ingredient. Those people need to try Peach and Mango salsas to see what they're missing.

Supposedly the waves make it stronger so you use it for dipping, so it seems like putting salsa flavors in a chip you're going to dip into salsa might be strange.

Aroma does remind me of a jar of mango salsa. There's a slight sweetness that comes out when taking a whiff. But, that's as close to mango salsa as it got.

Trying to figure out whether I like the flavor, or not. At first taste there's certainly the mango characteristic. But, it's not as fresh as I'd care for, and there's certainly no tomato  and/or garlic to be found.

Then the potato takes over in the aftertaste, along with a somewhat buttery characteristic, which is most certainly not present in any salsa I've ever had.

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Call me crazy. But, after tasting all four flavors, I cast my vote for Cappuccino. It's certainly not a flavor I'm going to be eating all the time, and I'm more likely to eat only a handful instead of wolfing down a bag in a day (which is probably a good thing, eh?).

You have until October 18th to vote for your favorite flavor at

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