Friday, August 31, 2018

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.

Update Review (Summer 2018)

For the summer of 2018, Lay's introduced a line of ridiculous flavored potato chips (nothing new there), limited edition, dubbed the "Tastes of America" line, available only in retails in the local region (or, online), 12 varieties in all.  

In honor of the Northeast, they were inspired by ... the Lobster Roll.  (For the curious, the others were Truffle Fries, Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Popper, Thai Sweet Chili, Fried Pickles w/ Ranch, Chile Con Queso, Fried Green Tomatoes, Cajun Spice, Pimento Cheese, Crab Spice, Lobster Roll, Deep Dish Pizza, & Ketchup).

Lobster Roll seemed like a reasonable thing to chip-ify, or at least, chips (or fries) on the side with a lobster roll is a traditional pairing, so, why not?  They are complimentary flavors.  So when I visited the Northeast this summer, I eagerly purchased a bag, not that I had high hopes.
New England Lobster Roll.
"A taste of fresh lobster served on a buttery grilled roll."

I did not taste lobster.  I did not taste lobster roll dressing.  I did not taste "roll".  I did not taste butter.  There was literally nothing about this that resembled a lobster roll.  If they were going for a hot lobster roll, shouldn't I just taste lots of butter?  If cold, mayo and celery?  None of these flavors were present, which makes sense, given that, besides butter, they weren't in the ingredients (I did taste them before reading the ingredients though).

What they did taste like was a slightly more zesty version Sour Cream & Onion.  Which, when I read the ingredients later, makes sense.  They do have sour cream and onion powder, and the additional ingredients found in them beyond what is in the Sour Cream & Onion are just red bell pepper and garlic powder (nearly last in the ingredient list), plus brown sugar and butter.  Bell peppers, garlic, and brown sugar doesn't exactly scream out "lobster roll" ... nor do sour cream and onion of course.

This flavor could have gone badly, imagine ... fishy tasting chips, more like asian shrimp chips?  But those would require an ingredient like anchovies or shrimp powder at least.  These chips certainly won't offend anyone on taste alone.

Overall, these were a fine chip, didn't taste bad, and were better than regular Sour Cream & Onion actually, but lobster roll they were not.

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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