Lay’s tries (and fails) to make the American potato chip great again

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"Like something that had died and begun fermenting under the sink" is how one Reader staffer described the flavor of Lay's new Beer 'n Brats potato chips.
  • "Like something that had died and begun fermenting under the sink" is how one Reader staffer described the flavor of Lay's new Beer 'n Brats potato chips.

It is a sad fact that although potato chips were invented right here in the good ol' U.S. of A., when it comes to flavoring, we Americans now lag far, far behind the rest of the world. Brits enjoy chips with flavors such as Worcestershire sauce, prawn cocktail, and crispy duck and hoisin. The Chinese have them in varieties like hot and spicy fish soup, lemon tea, and blueberry, while in Japan, you can get wasabeef and seaweed-salt. Even the Canadians have creamy garlic Caesar.

Every year Lay's potato chips attempts to make the American potato chip great again by introducing experimental new flavors. In 2014, they brought us cappuccino. In 2015, it was American regional flavors. And last summer, they expanded beyond our national borders with Szechuan Chicken (ugh) and Tikka Masala (pretty good, but not as good as the British version, which, oddly enough, had been manufactured by Walkers, the U.K. cousin to Lay's). This year, Lay's returned to America with Beer 'n Brats, Southwestern Queso, and Garden Tomato & Asiago, plus an invitation to Americans to visit the company's website to invent their own disgusting flavors.

We brought the bags of chips to a staff meeting. But apparently no one wanted to break up the flow of planning our spring arts coverage with unseemly crunching, so the bags sat ominously on the table, glaring up at us. Finally, we could stand the anticipation no more and dug in. Herewith our commentary:

Beer 'n Brats

Staffer 1: Urgh. This is revolting. [Puts chip down.]
Staffer 2: It tastes like airplane salad dressing.
Staffer 1: That's very specific. What does airplane salad dressing taste like? [Picks up chip and deposits it very carefully in the nearest trash can.]
Staffer 2: Like the side of a chair.
Staffer 1: How do you know what the side of a chair tastes like?
Staffer 2: I'm an artist.

Staffer 1 later clarified his feelings: I thought the Beer 'n Brats chips tasted like something that had died and begun fermenting under the sink.

Staffer 3: I had to take a picture of the ingredients. There is actual beer in there. They explain what beer is. I guess that's good?

Staffer 4: What's the point of beer and brats? Does it mean you don't need beer and brats and chips? You can just have the chip?

Staffer 5: It's a way for children to try beer!
Staffer 6: I never thought of it that way.

Garden Tomato & Asiago

Staffer 7: The kettle chip definitely makes it better. [When the bag was mostly depleted, she dug in for the crumbs and enjoyed them quite a bit.]

Staffer 9 walks by, looks at chips, walks away. [He later reported that he summoned the courage to try them and that Southwestern Queso was his favorite.]

Southwestern Queso

Staffer 6: This tastes kinda weird.

Staffer 4: This tastes like a regular ranch chip.

Staffer 3: There's another brand—maybe Ruffles?—that has a queso flavor that's so much better. This one is kind of ¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯.  [Note: He didn't actually say "shrug emoji." He made a physical gesture that looked a lot like the shrug emoji.]

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