Lays Flavored Chips: Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should

Rachel Raczka

Lays launched the “Do Us a Flavor” campaign in 2012 to celebrate their 75th anniversary. Fans were asked to send in their dream ideas for a chip flavor and the three finalists went into production for a limited time before a winner was declared. Last year’s finalists included Sriracha, Chicken and Waffles, and the eventual — and much-debated — victor, Cheesy Garlic Bread.

This year’s follow-up competition has been expanded to four limited-edition, fan-developed favors: Cappuccino, Mango Salsa, Wasabi Ginger, and Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese. The four finalists are available for purchase through October 18 and Lays encourages testers to vote for their favorite on at dousaflavor.com, where you can also read the riveting stories behind each flavor’s inspiration. (Spoiler: It’s not that riveting.)

We never say “no” to quirky snack foods at Boston.com, so we decided to pop open a few bags and give them a try. Below are our thoughts.

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Mango Salsa:

Sara: I’ve had Yorkshire Pudding flavored chips and Lamb and Mint flavored chips so I thought I could handle anything, but these were all just horrible. Mango salsa tasted like Trix. This was a sad day. I’m going home now.

Shannon: I agree with what Sara said. Mango salsa tasted like it was dusted with old fruity pebbles or some other stale children’s cereal. Weird after taste.

Rattey: I saved the Mango for last. Mistake. Trix NAILS it. I was trying to think of what they tasted like. I had such high hopes because I love mango salsa. I was highly disappointed, and yes… they taste exactly like Trix. I once felt really sad after I ate a peanut butter hamburger. Like actually melancholic. I think it was chemical. Lesson: don’t mix meat and peanut butter.

Berto: The mango was terrible. Like, I can’t believe how bad it is.

Sanjay: Mango Salsa: Bleah! Tastes like a really unpopular flavor of Kool-Aid was sprinkled on the chips.

Rattey: Sanjay Dangerfield is hitting on all cylinders.

Zeninjor: I love mango salsa and almost anything with mango, but this flavor is not suited for a chip.

Ryan: Mango salsa was by far the worst, completely artificial flavor.

Mikaela: Ryan and I decided that the mango salsa tastes exactly like Trident Tropical Gum — the orange one. It’s not right. It’s just not right and I don’t support it.

Angela: The mango chips tasted like lotion from Bath & Body Works. Yuck. Great smell, terrible taste.

Rattey: How often do you eat the lotion? Can you?

Wasabi Ginger

Sanjay: My favorite of the batch. Had a salty taste and a really good after taste. Didn’t knock your sinuses out like normal wasabi.

Zeninjor: Ugh, where to begin. I should have known I wouldn’t like the wasabi ginger because I hate wasabi. I love ginger though.

Denali: The Wasabi Ginger chips taste like you took a packet of ramen noodle seasoning and poured it over the classic lays. That’s totally something I would do though so Wasabi Ginger has my vote.

Rattey: Denali … you win.

Ryan: Wasabi Ginger tastes like dehydrated sushi.

Eric: Wasabi Ginger – WG, as I call it – was a little too mild of a wasabi for me. The best part of eating wasabi is that rush that goes through your nostrils when you accidentally put on too much. This was just like a light dusting.

Angela: I like how Eric has such a connection with the Wasabi Ginger chips he felt comfortable enough to give them a nickname.

Cappuccino

Ryan: Cappuccino tastes like the inside of a Dunkin’ Donuts.

Shannon: Yes. But not in a good way.. like the dirt on the floor of a Dunkin.

Angela: No one said it better than Ryan about the Cappuccino chips. They were cereal-esque and tasted like the fake cappuccino that I used to get out of a Cumberland Farms machine in high school.

Mikaela: Cappuccino just made me wish I were eating a cinnamon-sugar soft pretzel instead of a mediocre chip. Stop trying to be a soft pretzel, chip!

Eric: Cappuccino was wiggity wack.

Laura: Cappuccino tastes as brackish as it looks.

Glenn: I absolutely LOVE the above comment. Love it. Love it. Love it. Love it. Also, it tastes like Cinnamon Toast Crunch floating in brackish water. One man’s opinion.

Rattey: Glenn, you’re an idiot. That Crappucino flavor wasn’t completely horrible, but just weird. I guess at the end of the day when you make something crunchy and salty, I’m kind of in. So it had a coffee, cinnamon, salty crunch combo… with a hint of cardboard.

Zeninjor: Haha, more like the cheap store-brand bootleg version of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Rattey: Ha. The no frills version. My parents went all no frills back in the late 80s. It was an Amway thing. As stupid as the CB&G chip effort.

Steve: The cappuccino chips tasted like the coffee flavored donut sampled earlier… both awful.

Denali: If cappuccino chips sound disgusting to you, you’re right. Stay away.

Zeninjor: Agreed, the cappuccino chips were just weird. I’m not sure why someone thought this flavor was a good idea.

Berto: I mean, all of these flavors are just unwanted.

Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese

Denali: This is the only flavor I reached for seconds. I don’t know if that’s because they’re good or if I’m just really hungry, but I definitely didn’t reach for seconds of Cappuccino.

Shannon: Same here, it was mostly cheesy and a little smoky. Pretty good, but still not mac and cheese.

Rattey: Wait, what? There was a Bacon Mac & Cheese one? Where the hell was I?

Zeninjor: I was hit with an overwhelming bacon flavor then an overwhelming cheese flavor. It was just ok.

And for bonus points: Cheesy Garlic Bread:

Angela: I had all of these chips sitting on my desk for a week. Those cheesy garlic bread chips were calling my name. After I tried them, I was soooo disappointed. The first taste was sharp and unappetizing. Further bites were better, but they didn’t live up to what my mind imagined them to be.

Zeninjor: The cheesy garlic bread was really good. It tasted just like cheesy garlic bread.

Ryan: Cheesy garlic bread tastes just like cheesy garlic bread. Not really a surprise why it won last year after trying these other chips.

Mikaela: Agreed. Cheesy garlic was good, but they made me instantly feel like a fat kid.

Shannon: The garlic bread chips were good, but only if you have one or two — beyond that it’s just too much garlic.

Eric: No, guys, cheesy garlic is great on warm bread from Olive Garden or something. Putting chemically-flavored flakes on a room temperature crunchy chip is a cheap comparison.

Rattey: Cheesy garlic bread ones sucked. Just a pedestrian chip. You better bring something to the table if you label a flavor: Cheesy Garlic Bread. Because that’s some serious stuff. Stupid.

Berto: I liked the cheesy bread and garlic, but it tasted like bad restaurant chain garlic bread. But I’m OK with that.

Sanjay: Didn’t even taste the flavoring. Lays needs to step up the game on this flavoring or it’s just the original flavor.

Glenn: Sanjay, you’re nuts on this one. That flavor was crazy strong. Almost overpowering!

Angela: Sanjay, I think your tastebuds need a checkup.

And the clear winner is... ?

Sanjay: Wasabi Ginger: My favorite of the batch. Had a salty taste and a really good after taste. Didn’t knock your sinuses out like normal wasabi.

Angela: I disagree with Sanjay on Wasabi Ginger. They tasted like fish. I don’t like fishy chips.

Rattey: Wasabi Ginger gets a B-. I could put down half a bag sober. Full bag with ease late night.

Perry: Of all the tastes, sweet isn’t one that should be regularly associated with, or even seriously experimented with as far as chips are concerned. Keep them savory, salty, and spicy please. None of this year’s options were good, I would never buy any of them. That said, Mango Salsa wins purely off of ridges alone.

Gary: Piggybacking off of Perry: Ridges, man. And I actually liked the flavor of the mango salsa even without them. A little sweet but peppery and spicy.

Rattey: The ridges were the reason I saved them for last. I feel like a fool to have believed. You can’t trust anybody in the chips game these days.

Eric: None of these are do-overs, all of them are at least worse than salt and vinegar which is the worst of the main flavor three-some along with BBQ and sour cream and onion. I think I’d probably go with Ketchup over all of these and I’m not even Canadian.

Sara: Eric what are you talking about. Salt and Vinegar is the best.

Rattey: Eric. If you were next to me right now, I’d slap you. Consider this a virtual backhand. It is without a doubt that Cape Cod Sea Salt & Vinegar are the best chips to ever be placed in an air-tight bag sold for public consumption.

Mikaela: Conclusion: None of us should ever bother with these plebeian Lays chips again, because the homemade chips from the Globe cafeteria are clearly the best chips in all of the land.

Zeninjor: I can’t imagine anyone could eat a whole bag of any of these flavors.

Denali: Conclusion: If you can really win a million dollars for making chips these chemical-y, I’m quitting my job as a journalist and becoming a chip chef instead.

Zeninjor: “Chip chef,” I like it.

Shannon: I don’t think I’d buy any of these. Who comes up with this stuff?

Berto: God, I wish I had a toothbrush right now.