Well, one of them might be OK. The others are almost certain to be terrible.

If you haven’t heard by now, Lays announced the 2015 finalists for their Do Us a Flavor competition, where fans submit flavor ideas, Lays produces four of them, and fan voting ultimately decides which one winds up a permanent Lays fixture. After last year’s strong field* in which (maybe surprisingly, considering Americans’ terrible taste buds), the far and away best flavor won and Lays tried something legitimately weird and interesting (for better or worse), we were all pretty justified in expecting to see some interesting new ideas. There were certainly plenty of good user-submitted ones on the Lays website.

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Unfortunately, we didn’t get any of those good ideas—we got a a tire fire. Let’s run through them and talk about why each will almost certainly be shit.

New York Reuben - I love Reubens enough that I once ranked them as the number one sandwich in existence, a sentiment I stand by,** but this shit isn’t going to work in a potato chip. Much like last year’s Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese, there are just too many flavors for one chip. If it actually tasted like a Reuben, I’m sure this would be good. It won’t actually taste like a Reuben, though.

Greektown Gyro - Suffers from the same issues as the Reuben concept. You can’t accurately transmute a sandwich into chip form. It cannot be done. Stop trying. Also, and this applies to both of them—when has a meat-flavored potato chip actually worked in any context? I’m happy to be proven wrong here, but I can’t recall a time the reality ever held up to the idea.

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West Coast Truffle Fries - Oh for fuck’s sake. This is the one I feel utterly certain will be a giant, steaming mound of disgusting. The only way you can get a “truffle” flavor into something as cheap as potato chips is to use synthetic truffle oil, which is an abomination good people should not be forced to tolerate. Never, ever use synthetic truffle oil, ever, for any reason.

Southern Biscuits and Gravy - This...might actually work, which makes it unique among this year’s flavors. Biscuits and Gravy is a simple idea that should actually be possible to execute. What made last year’s Wasabi Ginger chips so good was the fact that not only was it an unexpected concept, it was a simple one. The only flavors were soy sauce, wasabi, and ginger, three flavors which not only mesh well, but were eminently attainable in chip form. This is the only flavor this year with a hope of being in that category.

Lays is swinging for the fences this year, and the problem with that is that when you miss, you miss big. Except for the truffle fries idea (and a massive eyeroll to whoever greenlit that dumb, trend-pandering concept), they’re trying things they think are unusual, but there are no off-the-wall wait-what-the-hell-is-that ideas, like last year’s Cappuccino flavor.*** What’s there isn’t nearly as creative as the executives at Lays seem to think it is, and aside from the Biscuits and Gravy, I can’t say I’m excited for any of them. You can certainly make the point that I am a Reaper of Joy who cannot find happiness in any aspect of the universe’s inherent majesty, but I was at least conceptually intrigued by every flavor last year. It’s a massive disappointment that Lays appears to have taken a step backwards.

* At least conceptually. The Mango Salsa chips may have tasted like they were coated in Fruit Loop dust and the Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese tasted generic as hell, but I still feel like those are failings of execution, not of design.

** Unlike some of my other, terrible rankings.

*** Whether you thought it was good or bad (and I thought they were OK), I admired the hell out of Lays for throwing something THAT unusual out there.

Image via Lays.


Contact the author at WilyUbertrout@gmail.com.