Friday, May 29, 2015

Frito-Lay Chips

You need no introduction to Frito-Lay, I know.

Frito-Lay is probably the largest manufacturer of potato chips in the US, encompassing a slew of brands: not just Lay's, but they also own Sun Chips, Tostitos, Doritos, Fristos, Cheetos, Ruffles, Ms. Vickie's, etc, etc.  And, they are owned by PepsiCo themselves.  No little mom and pop shop here, so, not a brand I'd actually seek out for any reason.

But since I've recently been addicted to salty snack foods, I figured I had to give these classic chips a try again, for old time's sake.

I can't say there are any real winners, but it was a fun walk down memory lane.  The chips really haven't changed in years!  I've consolidated my notes from a bunch of the different brands into this single post, except for Ruffles, Cracker Jacks, and Miss Vickie's, which I reviewed independently previously.  I've also included the relative newcomer, Lay's Air Pops.

Original Reviews (Published February 1, 2013)

Crunchy Cheetos.
I wasn't ever a huge Cheetos fan as a kid, but I of course have plenty of memories of orange stained finger tips.  I preferred the Puffs version to these crunchy ones, even back then.

It turns out, that "cheese" still coats your fingers even as an adult, and I still got some joy from licking it off, long after my bag of chips had run out.  The chips themselves I still don't really care for, but there is something in that fake cheese flavor that at least makes me nostalgic.  But, I have no plans to eat these again!
Another one from childhood: Fritos!

They were salty, crunchy, and had a slight corn flavor, but really didn't seem to be nearly as flavorful as I recalled.  I turned them into Frito pie, which was significantly better, but still not something I want more of.

I also tried a bunch of the flavored offerings, including BBQ and Chili Cheese.  I just found the flavors ... strange.
Fritos Flavor Twists: Honey BBQ.
The Fritos product line has greatly expanded over the years, to say the least.  Mostly as new flavors of the standard Fritos shaped corn chips, but also into ... twists?

I loved the shape.  The crunch from the ridges was quite nice.  And the honey bbq flavor was also nice.  But the corn chip base?  E.g. the fritos themselves?  Not my thing!

Classic Lays

Lay's actually makes a large variety of fairly interesting sounding flavors now.  In addition to the classic Barbecue there is Honey Barbecue or Sweet Southern Heat Barbecue.  A number of flavors promise some spice, like Chile Limón, Flamin' Hot, PIco de Gallo, Tapatio.  And who can resist Dill Pickle?  But I stuck with the basics.
"Each bag of LAY’S Barbecue Flavor Potato Chips are a savory reason to smile. Our trademark seasoning captures everything you love about a summer barbecue: a smoky aroma, finger-lickin’ good BBQ flavor and of course, a crispy crunch."

When I think of classic barbecue chips, these are it.  I haven't had them in years, but the moment I had one recently, I was instantly transported back in time.  They taste exactly as I remember.  Fairly tangy, sweet, crispy.  Not remarkable in any way, generic as can be, but they aren't claiming to be anything else.  I was glad to remember these, but don't really feel the desire to have any more.  I am kinda curious to try the new barbecue flavors Lay's has added though.

Update Review:  A few years pass, and, time to try these again.  I appreciated them even more this time.  Classic bbq flavor.  Seriously, these remind me of childhood.  They are so crispy, so, just, *what* BBQ chips are supposed to be.  In my mind anyway.  I'm glad to keep these on my every-few-years rotation.
Sour Cream & Onion.
"Each bag of LAY’S Sour Cream and Onion Flavor Potato Chips is a little reminder of how good the simple things are. LAY’S Sour Cream and Onion Flavor Potato Chips have been a flavor favorite for many years. The tart sour cream taste and onion flavor are blended to create the perfect seasoning that people have come to love."

A generic, classic Lay's flavor.  Not that sour creamy.  Not that oniony.  But that little fleckle of green bits on the chips brought back instant memories.  Are they good?  Not really, but, memories.

[ Others ]
  • Classic: Well, yup, aptly named.  Thin chip, no real flavor or texture, decently salted.  Nothing particularly interesting here..
  • Baked Lay's: These were sorta like untasty Pringles.  Reconstituted potato starch rather than slices of potato like the baked Kettle chips.  Not much flavor.  Not very salty.  Very thin.  Yet I tried them a few more times.  They were never that good on their own, but I enjoyed them dipped in mac and cheese or mushroom soup (I'm weird like that).

Sun Chips

I remember when I discovered Sun Chips.  I think I actually bought into the idea that they were healthy chips.  Lols.
Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips.
  • Harvest Cheddar: Classic grainy, sorta hearty Sun Chip base.  Decently cheesy.  But, not really that great.
  • Garden Salsa: "The flavor hints of summer salad mixed with the flavor of sun-ripened tomato".  Tasting notes: These were a new one for me.  They had the same kinda grainy, hearty chip base, with a bit of zesty tomato taste.  Not bad, but not particularly good.
  • French Onion: These were always my favorites.  Grainy, french onion flavor, but I didn't find them not particularly good the first time I tried them as an adult. Of course, the next time I thought the flavor was good, and liked the graininess.  Hmm.

Air Pops (Added May 29, 2015)

Sour Cream & Onion.
I expected these to have the same awful consistency as PopChips.  Luckily, they didn't.  Sure, they weren't the greasy, crispy creations I know as regular chips, and indeed were healthier tasting, but they at least still seemed to be potato, rather than styrofoam.

The sour cream and onion flavoring was quite good, strong.  But I still prefer regular chips.
Just like the Sour cream & onion, I was impressed with the flavor of these.  Very mesquite flavored, deep barbeque.  And just like the sour cream and onion, I thought the texture wasn't awful.

But ... I still didn't want many of these.  The flavor of the sour cream and onion was slightly better.
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