Monday, September 29, 2014

All About Lay's: Russia

Hey kids. It's been slow news recently while we await to hear which flavors are going to win all these contests being held all over the world (like wtf, why are the World Cup contests still undecided in South America). So I decided to start a new segment here at The Chip Report, a segment dedicated not to the newest bag of chips, but to the standard range of flavors being produced every day in distant lands. Today, we'll start the segment with RUSSIA.
To begin, Lay's Russia has 3 ranges; Lay's: the traditional chip, Lay's Max: The thicker cut wavy style chip, and Lay's Strong: a Ruffles style chip that is also noted for "strong" flavors.

Lay's introduced their signature potato chips to the Russian market in 1992, a market that found salted potato slices boring. It wasn't until 2005 that Lay's did extensive market research across the whole of Russia to introduce flavors that would have more appeal to the Russian public. This research inspired Lay's to create Crab, Caviar, Pickled Cucumbers and a variety of unique flavors that would bring Lay's the success they had in their homeland. And later would lead to the introduction of Lay's Max and Lay's Strong.

Those signature Lay's make up the biggest line in Russia with flavors "Bacon", "Salted", "Cheese", "Green Onion", "White Mushrooms with Sour Cream", "Potatoes with Butter and Dill", "Sour Cream and Fresh Herbs"(which also comes in a Ruffled version, but because the flavor is mild it is just part of the Lay's line not the Strong line), "Pickled Cucumbers", and "Crab" (I can't find any official info regarding the status of "Red Caviar" flavor, but I find it unlikely it was discontinued, so I'll include it in this post... a LOT of countries only post some of the flavors they actually sell online, so it makes hunting them down a lot harder than you would think). Take a look.
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Russia's version of Lay's MAX are most comparable to our Lay's Wavy line. They are waved, thick cut, potato chips in "Meat on Coals","Cheese and Onion", and "Chicken Wings". Other nations, most notably the UK, also carry the MAX line, but as a Ruffled chip, so the brand depends on local markets.
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Finally is the Lay's Strong line. At first glance, these are Ruffles but under a different brand name... upon further inspection the Strong line shows it's character actually comes from a collection of Bold flavors. "Smoked Cheese", "Aspic with Horseradish" (don't know what Aspic is? Google it, it's Meat Gelatin bro), and "Spicy Hunting Sausages". This line is probably the most telling about the Russian market. Frito-Lay's own study found that Russian's considered the traditional Salted chip to be "boring" and the Strong collection is comprised of loud flavors. Most likely in an effort to provide Russian consumers with the bolder flavors that would appeal to them.
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So what do you think? Does any of Russia's range make your mouth water? Are you dreaming about those Butter and Dill flavored ones like I am?? Have you found and tried any of these? We'd love to know!  Sound off in the comments below.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Lay's USA Pico De Gallo

Here is a bag that should be an easy find for US chip hunters. "Pico de Gallo" flavor has been out for a year now and I've just finally gotten around to trying it. #oops
This flavor was chosen as part of a Frito-Lay employee only contest to create a new flavor. The winner Samuel Oliveros is a customer service representative at Frito-Lay in Manteca California who used his Hispanic upbringing as inspiration for the flavor. In an email interview with The Chip Report, Oliveros told us "Since it's pretty much tradition at any Hispanic event such as parties or just a home cooked meal I had no doubt that would be my choice" and that he wanted to create a flavor that was "something everyone likes".

When trying this bag, I had a bit of excitement, I like the idea of acidic flavors with salty chips. And while I think the inspiration was a fantastic choice, ultimately it fails to meet expectations. Sadly, my shorthand notes sum this bag up pretty well... I wrote "Bro, these taste like Tomato, bro". It's hard to describe this bag better than that. The bag smells like Tomato, the chips taste like Tomato, and the color looks like Tomato. Instead of the promised complexity of Tomato, Onion, Cilantro, and some heat... you get a one note flavor. Maybe there is a peek of Lime... but it is quickly lost. Just the authentic fruity flavor of Tomato off the vine. The potato itself is average... so across the board this bag is dull. Lay's USA definitely need to focus a bit on their Salsa flavors though. We just reviewed their "Mango Salsa" flavor and it suffered from the same lack of complexity and overwhelming fruity-ness. They should look towards their "Garden Tomato and Basil" flavor for inspiration (which I am not a fan of, but the flavor has character and complexity).

The idea for this bag was great, and Samuel Oliveros had some words of wisdom for those of us who hope to win the next "Do Us A Flavor" competition "My advice to anyone trying to submit a winning flavor would be to not necessarily think outside the box. There are tons of simple ingredients that can create a winning flavor."

It's nice to see that Frito-Lay appreciates the ideas of their employees as much as their customers... especially when we get to see new flavors because of it ;p It would be nice to see this contest again, maybe this year ;ppp (hint hint)

So... have you tried this bag? Did you like it? Does it even compare to flavors like "Chicken & Waffles" or "Wasabi Ginger"? Sound off down below...



BONUS FACT: Samuel Oliveros' favorite flavor before he got his own flavor was BBQ.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Margarita Colombia Receta Clasica Alitas BBQ

Here is a bag I've been waiting to try for some time now; Margarita Colombia's Receta Clasica Alitas BBQ. "Receta Clasica" refers to the "Classic Recipe" style cook on these chips... they are really quite similar to Kettle Chips (and the packaging is very reminiscent of the Kettle bags we see worldwide). There is a big difference though... these bad boys are cooked with the skin ON. mmm, SKIN. I personally like to see potato skins on the edges of the chip, I feel like the potato looks fresher... I know; weird. The chip is thicker than a normal cut, and thus has a ton more crunch. The flavor is "Alitas BBQ" or "BBQ Chicken Wings". The sweet bbq flavor definitely comes through from the moment you smell the open bag to the last bite. The prominent flavor that comes through is first Chicken, and then it's joined by that sweetness and a nice variety of savory spice from the BBQ sauce seasoning. The bold combo tasted fantastic on these thicker, crunchier, skin-on chips. All in all, a great bag, definitely worth the hunt. The only other comment I'll make about it, is that I thought it reminded me a lot of Margarita's "Pollo a la Brasa" flavor, albeit on a different cut chip. And I find this cut to be more suited to it. If given a choice between the 2, I would hands down grab this one off the rack.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Lay's USA Kettle Cooked Lattice Cut Aged Cheddar & Black Pepper

I've been looking forward to trying these for some time now. That photo of the Lattice Cut chip on the front looks AMAZING! mmm.
However, in my opinion, the texture of this chip is TOO hard. It's crunchy and it's pretty, but they were just too thin and hard for me. At first smell, you catch the black pepper aroma. The chip touches your tongue and it takes some work to crack through them with your teeth. But the texture is different and unique, so many may enjoy it for the exact reason that it gave me issue.
The yummy thickness of the crunchy potato adds that pure potato taste I look for in a chip, and that taste is complimented by a nice mellow, creamy sharp cheddar flavor. It isn't over powering, it's fairly subtle. Then the refreshing spice cuts through the sharp cheese and rich, thick, potato. Afterwards, the pepper stays bright on the middle of your tongue. This flavor combination comes across as elegant and well thought out. I really enjoyed the flavor. I definitely hadn't tried any flavor like it before.
I enjoyed the chip cut because it was new and exciting, but it's not a favorite. I could see this seasoning being well suited for Lay's typical Kettle Cooked chips... and while it also works here, sadly, I don't think the Lattice Cut is ever gonna be one of my favorites. But, I would eat it again, and if you are looking for interesting new flavors from Lay's USA, I think this needs to be on your list.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Munchos

Here's a fun and super RANDOM review. So, if you didn't know based on my profile picture, I'm a big ole Muppet fan. This week, some friends and I got together for a Muppet viewing party. Our gracious host was hilarious enough to put on some old school 1969 "Munchos" commercials that featured an early Cookie Monster, and then busted out the "Munchos" for us to taste. The only reason I'm throwing these up on here is because they are technically a potato crisp created by our beloved Frito-Lay.
So let's talk about these... "Munchos" are a snack made from dried potato and enriched corn meal. The texture is reminiscent of a more compressed "Cheetos" puff. That corn meal is very noticeable and gives "Munchos" a unique texture. The texture is crunchy but then it kind of melts in your mouth. It's crazy, the crisp is thin, but fluffy, but still crunchy. And you can see the air pockets in the chip that give it it's character. Just like how Pringles aren't really chips, neither are these; and "Munchos" have been smart enough to point that out. The combo of Potato and Corn offer a one of kind texture, and that texture carries the flavor of the salt and oil well. It isn't overly salted, but the salt somehow packed more taste than a regular salted chip. And the oil was flavorful and complimented these well. Because the flavor is so rich, I recommend these along with a Soda or a Beer, something that can cut through that strength.
I can't believe I had never tried these before because I really enjoyed them. The texture alone is worth the try, but the tasty seasoning makes them a fantastic tasting bag. If you're looking for something new, I recommend giving them a try.

You know... there's probably a reason these have been around for over 45 years!
Now, enjoy one of these vintage treasures...

Friday, August 29, 2014

Contest: Lay's Romania Ghiceste I Numele 2014

Mystery Bags, oh , Mystery Bags... Romania is having a little fun with these too! They just launched the "Ghiceste i Numele" ("Guess the Name") contest. I'm digging how they borrowed the bag design from UK Walkers' 2012 "What's This Flavor" contest.
This contest is straight forward. Lay's Romania has concocted 3 magical flavors and released them in stores. Contestants go to their local potato chip vendor, buy the chips, taste the flavor, then they head over to Lay's Romania's Facebook page and enter a guess as to the name of the flavor. 3 winners will be selected and they will each earn 25,000 LEI (about $7,400 USD)... NICE!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Contest: Lay's Netherlands Raad de Smaak Mystery Bags

Mystery Bag contests are BACK y'all!! If you were getting sick of the "Do Us A Flavor" competitions around the world, you'll be happy to see Mystery Bag contests are being relaunched in a few countries.
Today, let's chat about the Netherlands. Their "Maak de Smaak" contest has been coming up with some AMAZING flavors for the last few years; "Patatje Joppie" won in 2011 and has since become a permanent and beloved flavor. So, it is a total surprise to see them suddenly switch the script and launch the "Raad de Smaak" contest. From my understanding, this is a mystery bag challenge, along the lines of "Guess the Flavor"... but that is NOT the direct translation... the direct translation is "Council the Taste" (see how language can be confusing lol).
You have the green bag which is the "Hartige" or "Savory" flavor. The yellow bag which is "Pittige" or "Spicy". And the Pink bag is "Zoet" or "Sweet". Contestants go to the shop, buy a bag, taste the bag, then they go online and submit a flavor for the bag. I'm guessing there will be 3 individual winners to this contest because the prize is listed as 3 x €10.000. That's a little over $13,000... NOT TOO BAD for just telling Lay's what flavor you think these are.
I like this contest, but in the States we're enjoying the "Do Us A Flavor" contest, and I'd like to see it stick around for at least another year before we start doing mystery bags. None the less, it's still fun to see what these other countries are coming up with in their magical labs. Can't wait to see what these end up being!

Have you tried these? What are your flavor guesses? Let us know in the comments section below!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Lay's USA Cappuccino

YUM! I loved this bag. It was sweet and salty and everything I ever wanted. But, I'll say it now out the gate, I did NOT taste Cappuccino.
To me, the thinly sliced chip and it's rich potato flavor along with the sweet spice mix, reminded me a lot of Churros! I could definitely pick up Cinnamon and a hint of cocoa. which show up on the ingredients list. Actually I thought it tasted like a Chocolate flavored Churros in cinnamon sugar. mmm. My friends on the other hand thought this was disgusting... soooo, it seems a matter of taste. But to me, this was awesome. The potato in this bag was once again surprisingly beautiful.. perfectly even cooked chips, not burned or overcooked. The cocoa dust colored seasoning coated them evenly. So, I've got to admit, Lay's USA looks like they've finally sorted out there issues with below par potatoes. There isn't much else to say about this bag. It definitely is made for a person who is seeking out a "crazy" potato chip experience... not the general public. In my opinion, it was that fun experience, and if it wasn't a bajillion degrees out in the summer, I could see myself eating these more often. (It's definitely a winter chip, lol.) But I liked it, and will def get a few more bags before they disappear. Maybe they could have done with some sea salt too, but I won't get picky.
Will it win? Hell no. Should you try it before it disappears? MOST DEFINITELY!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Lay's USA Wavy Mango Salsa

I had high hopes for this bag. I like a little sweet, a little salty. Bright and Acidic. Mango Salsa kinda tricked me into thinking that was what it offered. In reality, this bag smells like perfume and tastes like Mango flavored candy. I've read a lot of reviews on China's fruit flavored bags that have a perfumey smell... I guess this was what they were describing. It is an artificial fruit candy smell. SO weird. Popping one of these chips in your mouth tastes straight-up like a mango hard candy... with a tiny hint of tomato and spice. TINY. That flavor creeps up after the initial mango taste, and doesn't really stand out. Only after eating multiple chips does it tend to build up a little... but its nothing special. The real failure of these chips was the choice of WAVY cut potatoes. The wavy cut doesn't add any thing, in fact, it seems to take away from the subtle heat and tomato. This flavor should have been on a regular cut chip, or the seasoning needed to get kicked up and put on a kettle chip. I really thought these would end up being my favorite, but I found them boring and not memorable. And my review seems a bit overly positive, cuz apparently im the only weirdo that liked that mango candy taste. My friends found it inedible. It was the only flavor from USA that I saw someone spit out during our tasting party. So, if you are a traditionalist, I don't recommend these at all. This flavor is for the daring, but, just during the dare. I doubt this is going to become a cult favorite that is missed after it is gone. MEH.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Gotta Get At This: Lay's Thailand กุ้งมังกรผัดซอสเอ็กซ์โอ and อิตาเลี่ยนซูพรีมชีส

oh Lay's Thailand. The beautiful nonsense you produce sends my heart a-flutter. Here are two new flavors coming out of Thailand. A China flavor "กุ้งมังกรผัดซอสเอ็กซ์โอ" aka "Fried Lobster in XO Sauce" and an Italian flavor "อิตาเลี่ยนซูพรีมชีส" aka "Italian Cheese Supreme" on a Ruffles style chip. I had to google XO sauce, and the internet informed me it's a spicy seafood sauce from the southern regions of China. Made by mixing different dried seafoods and then cooked with chili peppers, onions, and garlic. Wikipedia says the XO moniker comes from XO Cognac which stands for eXtra Old. Since Cognac is seen as a high-quality item in China, the sauce name carries a certain luxury conotation. So, its no surprise Lay's Thailand chose to pair it with the food that epitomizes luxury; Lobster. It's a hot sauce, so this bag probably has similar qualities to Thailands "Spicy Chili Squid". The other bag, "Italian Cheese Supreme" depicts like 6 different cheeses on the front. So... im guessing... it's Cheesy. It's probably quite different from the Cheddar flavor we are all used to, but similar in a certain way because they are putting it on the thicker cut Ruffles style chip. It's Italian, so they better pack some Parmesan flavor... that's all i'm saying.
I found these on ebay earlier this week and was able to snag them to try. Thailand seems to be one of the easier countries to find chips from. I see them quite often on ebay and Amazon. So, if you want to pick these up, it shouldn't be TOO hard.