Thursday, June 26, 2014

Lay's USA Oven Baked Original

My Dad, being the sweet yet easily fooled by food shopper he is, bought a bag of Oven Baked Lay's for my mom last week. I haven't had them in a while, and hadn't ever put them on the blog, so I figured now was a good time to give you all my thoughts. These used to be marketed as part of Frito-Lay's "BAKED!" line, but recently got a makeover to resemble the "Oven Baked" chips and crackers seen internationally.  I like the re-brand... I find the packaging to be more modern, and the new name to appeal more to those looking for a baked not fried alternative. These chips tout that they offer those looking for a healthy alternative 80% less fat than regular Lay's.

To give you a better understanding of what these franken-chips actually are and taste like, lets look at the ingredients list; Dried Potatoes, Corn Starch, Corn Oil, Sugar, Salt, Soy Lechitin, Dextrose, and Annato Extract for color (a natural yellow dye from the Annato seeds).

For comparison, here is what's in a bag of regular Lay's; Potatoes, Vegetable Oil, and Salt. That's it.

Oven Baked Lay's definitely have more potato flavor than Original Lay's, likely because they aren't overwhelmed by the flavor of the oil. They also have a lighter, more airy, mouth feel. I'm guessing that has to do with the fluffy corn filler. Here's the thing, in my opinion, these aren't really potato chips. These are made the same way Pringle's and Lay's Stax are; by using Dehydrated Potato mashed bits, mixing them with tons of stuff to hold um back together, molding them, and then baking them. The difference here, is you get them in a bag, as opposed to a tube.

They are tasty, that's for sure. Much more so than the other franken-chip I just wrote about: "air pOps". I would choose this over that any day of the week. In fact, these are a nice treat. But, do I consider these 'potato chips'? Hell no.
If you like Pringles, give em a taste. If you're craving chips yet you want something a bit lighter, they are worth a try. But, I don't think they are worth going out of your way to try.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Gotta Get At This (or not): Lay's USA Air pOps, Walkers UK pOps, and Lay's South Africa pOpped; plus a crash course in Air Popped Chips

With South Africa releasing the "pOpped" line and the UK releasing their own "pOps" line... I figured it was time to talk about our newly repackaged line of Lay's "Air pOps" and what the heck an Air Popped Chip actually is.

So to begin, here's the glamour shots...

The "pOpped" collection from South Africa in "Peri Peri Prawn", "Hot & Tangy Piquante Pepper", and "White Cheddar & Spring Onion".

The UK's Walkers' line called "pOps" featuring "Prawn Cocktail", "Melted Cheese & Crispy Bacon", "Original", and "Sour Cream & Onion".
And lastly, the lovely new packaging on the US's "air pOps", which come in "Sour Cream & Onion, "Original", "Barbeque", and "Salt & Vinegar".

So, what are air-popped chips and why are these collections pOpping up everywhere?
Air-popped chips are made in the EXACT same way rice cakes are made. Instead of grains of rice; lumps of potato flakes and starch are hydrated, pressurized, heated, depressurized, and then they fuse together. Presto! No need to fry, or bake, or anything. And while that leaves you with a chip that is 50% less fattening when compared to traditional chips, it also leaves you with a chip that strangely tastes exactly like a rice cake. And honestly, when compared to other reduced fat options, there are definitely tastier alternatives out there.
So, why are they so popular? In 2007, "Popchips" hit the market and quickly became a major competitor in the US potato chip market. The company had great packaging, loads of advertising, celebrity endorsers, and a healthier product. Not to mention a range that includes at least 7 flavors, 3 tortilla chips offerings, and some veggie chips. The company single-handedly created a niche market within chips. Brands like "Popcorners"and "Special K" followed the puffed chip fad, and it eventually led to Lay's introducing their own "air pOps". "air pOps" has done well, with the line even expanding to include another flavor. So it's no surprise that the line is appearing in countries like the Netherlands, the UK, and South Africa now.

But, is this a genuine potato chip? In my opinion, much like Pringles (or Lay's Stax) uses potato flakes and starch to manufacture their chips that aren't really chips; air-popped chips are not really chips. They are a potato snack alternative. BUT while Pringles and Stax at least pack tons of potato flavor, Popchips and Air pOps taste exactly like the name suggests... AIR.
To me, the flavor is the most important thing, and these air-popped chips are not even in the same league as traditional chips when it comes to flavor. Let's keep it REAL, if you are eating puffed up potato chips with little nutritional value and loads of sodium to save a few calories, then your eating habits are already FKD up. You are NOT going to lose weight eating salted potato puffs. Sorry. (#SorryNotSorry). Potato chips are a treat, a treat that should be eaten in moderation. When it's time for my treat, on the occasion that I'm going to indulge in potato chips, I want them to taste AWESOME. I don't want to eat chips that remind me of the real chips that I'm not eating. And I paid for too much school to be fooled into thinking that if I eat a bag of fake chips every day at lunch, that it will equate to the wonderful occasional joy of eating real potato chips.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Gotta Get At This: Lay's USA Kettle Cooked Lattice Cut Aged Cheddar & Black Pepper and Roasted Garlic & Sea Salt

Hey guys, gotta share before I miss the boat on these. This past March, Lay's launched Lattice Cut. Um, could these look any more delicious??? Dang. "Roasted Garlic & Sea Salt"?? Wow. Just sounds so good. I've kept my eyes peeled for these in the wild but the only one I have found so far is a personal size bag of the "Aged Cheddar & Black Pepper" (review coming soon) at a small gas station when I was 45 miles away from my house. Otherwise, these bad boys are playing hard to get in Southern California. I like seeing new things like this popping up. I can't think of anyone else doing a Lattice Cut on chips, so points to Lay's for these. Super cool, can't wait to try!!