The great Chicago Reader potato-chip-eating challenge, 2015 edition

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BRIANNA WELLEN
  • Brianna Wellen

If art is all about subverting the expected, then the people at Lay's are some of our most popular and profitable contemporary artists. Forget Jeff Koons: you can find Lay's experimental flavors in every goddamned grocery and convenience store in our fair nation. Every year, they give us the opportunity to appreciate their genius even more when they turn over new-potato-chip-flavor-devising duties to their loyal customers. Coming up with a new potato chip flavor isn't easy, y'all! If you have any doubts, just try it yourself.

A few weeks ago, the Reader staff bravely conducted a tasting of this year's new crowdsourced potato chip flavors—bravely because most of us haven't forgotten the debacle that was last year's cappuccino-flavored chip. This year's candidates: West Coast Truffle Fries, Southern Biscuits and Gravy, New York Reuben, and Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro.

(A sidenote: the regionalism in some of these flavor names is sort of charming, but why the hell do they not honor the gyro's city of origin? Gyros do not come from some generic Greektown. They come from Chicago's Greektown. I call anti-midwestern bias.)

And herewith our tasting notes:

West Coast Truffle Fries
This is cheating! It's already a potato! (Brianna Wellen)
This one tastes like how a chip should taste. Hands-down the best flavor here, but the least exciting because it's just good. (Luca Cimarusti)
Nothing is as terrible as last year's Cappuccino chips. That taste will haunt me forever. (BW)
Big whoop—you made a potato chip that tastes like another potato product (that doesn't even taste like truffle oil, which already tastes like chemicals, so good work). (Gwynedd Stuart)
Still, it's a better-than-average potato chip. I mean, that counts, right? (Aimee Levitt)
Decent and inoffensive, but I am too poor to know what truffle is supposed to taste like, so I can't say much about whether these chips get there. (Philip Montoro)

Southern Biscuits and Gravy
Breakfast in a chip! (Andrea Bauer)
This one kind of tastes like glue. (LC)
It's more gravy than biscuit. (AL)
Powdered milky but peppery and kind of good. Did not make me upset. (GS)
Meh. Not good enough to be good, not offensive enough to be fun to talk about. (BW)
The least offensive of the non-potato-related recipes. Tastes like a shitty diner version of biscuits and gravy, but at least it tastes like biscuits and gravy. (PM)

New York Reuben
"Do you know what would be delicious? SAUERKRAUT CHIPS!" No, absolutely not, these are for sure the worst of the batch. (BW)
NOPE. (LC)
This tastes like rye bread. And sauerkraut. This is not good. (AL)
Beefy with notes of rye and the way your mouth tastes after you barf. Still not as bad as the gyro ones. I ate like five of them, but I'm also a monster. (GS)
I can't top "Beefy with notes of rye and vomit." I was just going to say "inappropriately meaty." (PM)
First taste is hard to get over but it mellows out later. Wouldn't continue. (Sue Kwong)

Kettle Cooked Chicago Greektown Gyro
I felt OK about these until Gwynedd pointed out that they are little baby lamb chips. (BW)
I can't stop eating these. I don’t know if it's because they're good or because I'm fascinated over how much they taste an actual gyro and grilled pita. (LC) 
Potato chips should never fucking taste like lamb. Nothing besides lamb should taste like lamb. (GS)
UGH. (AL)
Dominated by an unpersuasive approximation of tzatziki with dill. Not having it. (PM)
There's a gamey note . . . (Stefanie Wright)
CHIPS SHOULD NEVER BE DESCRIBED AS "GAMEY." (BW)
Taste like the smokiness of the greasy machine cooking the meat. (SK)


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