Monday, September 28, 2015

French Fry Diary 673: Jessica's Do Us A Flavor 2015 Taste Testing

Guest Post by Jessica Walsh

Although the Lay’s Do Us a Flavor contest was established in 2013 (as far as I could tell), I had never participated in taste-testing or voting. Instead, I lived vicariously through Glenn and his reviews, taking his word for it. The man knows his spuds. After a winner was declared, I knew better than to complain if I disagreed since I hadn’t utilized my voting power.

This year, after reading Glenn’s lackluster review of what I assumed would be my favorite flavor, New York Reuben, I decided to get off the bench, get in the game, put my taste buds to the test and exercise my right to vote.

Like all red-blooded Americans, I have an opinion and I figured with thirty years of potato chip-eating experience, I am more than qualified to weigh in. Some gals like chocolate and sweets; this gal once considered giving her guinea pig’s salt lick a taste. I am a self-proclaimed potato chip connoisseur.

To make things more fun, however, I called on my gang of guys to help me out with the taste-testing. My husband, Mike, our friends, Rudy and Jay, and myself have 130 years of cumulative chip-eating experience. We know chips.

Some stats:

Jessica’s favorite chips: Herr’s ruffled sour cream and onion & Herr’s Boardwalk Salt & Vinegar Kettle Cooked.

Rudy’s favorite chip: Herr’s Boardwalk Salt & Vinegar Kettle Cooked (this is why we’re such good friends).

Mike’s favorite chip: Herr’s Kettle Cooked Jalapeno. (For the record, this is the only potato chip I have ever encountered that I prefer NOT to eat. I don’t believe it’s Mike’s favorite based on flavor, but on the fact that it is the only snack he can bring into the house and know it will still be there when he wants some.)

Jay’s favorite chips: Jay is an Utz guy. He goes for Grandma Utz Plain Kettle Cooked or Utz’s Kettle Cooked Smokin’ Sweet.

We are kettle-cooked people. Nothing beats that crunch. Poor Lay’s. Not one of us has a favorite among their extensive selection. Let’s see if these flavors win us over…

“Okay, gents, let’s begin!”

We started with the Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries. I read the ingredients, and what Angie Fu had to say about her flavor. I was pleased with the appearance, which greatly resembled my beloved sour cream & onion. Upon taste though, I felt they were lacking that earthy, mushroom-y flavor that truffles are known for. Rudy commented that they tasted like a spice cabinet, and that he wanted ketchup to dip them in. Angie Fu, we ain’t fuled by your finalist that fell flat.

With fungus on my mind (not literally), I told the story of the mushroom that was sad he couldn’t stay at the party. “I’m a fun-gi! I promise I won’t take up mush-room.” Rudy said the chips were at least better than my jokes.

“I don’t know,” Jay began thoughtfully. “They say wavy, but they just laid there.” Yeah, it was time to move on.

Next we tried the New York Reuben. Having all grown up near New York, we have all had MANY Reubens in our lives. The Reuben is to North Jersey what the cheesesteak is to South Jersey. Glenn never had one so he cannot be trusted on things such as this. After all, he doesn’t write for The Amazing Sandwich Diary.

I don’t know how the chemists do it, but we absolutely all agreed that these chips taste EXACTLY like a Reuben. For me, the most prominent flavor was the rye bread. I got the caraway (all the best rye breads are seeded), the tang of the Thousand Island dressing, the cheese… I only wished they were a little saltier.

The dreaded four-chips-in-one tower bite
“I wish I had a pickle to go with these,” Rudy commented. “Oh, even better would be dill pickle potato chips mixed with these chips! Or a Reuben with a side of fries,” he added as he plucked a truffle chip and a Reuben chip from the tray and popped them in his month at the same time. I promptly followed suit. Nope, not good.

Jeff Solensky, the finalist who chose this flavor, grew up in Long Island so he has credibility. But even though the Reuben chips taste exactly like they should, they’re not my favorite. If the contest was based on accuracy to title alone, they’d be the clear winner. But I don’t want my chip to taste that much like something else because it just confuses me. I rather just eat a Reuben. Sorry, Jeff.

Next up was the Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro. I already established that we all love kettle cooked chips. These were nice and crunchy. Too bad they were also DISGUSTING! First of all, they look dirty. They’re dark and the seasoning looks like cigarette ash and dust. I was hesitant even putting it in my mouth. “That is not good,” I said after one bite.

If James Wagner is happy with the chip he came up with, then I think it is fair to say that they serve crappy gyros in Texas, a place not at all known for its Greek cuisine.

Jay actually threw his chip out, rather than finish it. Hey Lays, I betcha we CAN eat just one. Sorry James, there’s no way you’re winning the big bucks.

Little did we know we were saving the best for last. First, let me state that I have never in my life eaten Southern Biscuits & Gravy. It is my understanding that above the Mason-Dixon Line we have something called cream chipped beef served over white bread or some sort of bread that’s not a biscuit because we have bagels here. Both look unappetizing. Bread drowning in a white gelatinous goop of butter, flour, some sort of dairy product and meat drippings? Gross.

So imagine my surprise when I loved these chips! I immediately got a breakfast sausage flavor and I love breakfast sausage. I also got a hint of butter. This was such an obvious winner for me and so far beyond the others in terms of flavor. I would actually buy these chips again!

Hailey Green, I hope you win $1,000,000! I am going to spend the remainder of the voting period supporting you. When you win, please reimburse me for the Vote for Hailey pins and lawn signs I just ordered from Café Press.

I’m still not ordering that goopy mess at a diner, though.

I must sadly report that although Southern Biscuits & Gravy was my favorite flavor, it was not unanimous. Rudy adamantly and stubbornly voted for pretzel rods and salt & vinegar chips, adding that truffle would be in dead last and the remaining three were tied for third.

Jay and Mike, brothers by different mothers, chose the Reuben first, followed by the biscuits and gravy, then the truffle fries, and then the dirty disgusting gyro chips. James Wagner, GO HOME.

Lastly, we stacked all four together and put the towers in our mouths. It was pretty bad.

“It’s like a Reuben with gyro meat and a side of fries coated in sausage gravy!”

I do not recommend eating all four at once. However, I do recommend you VOTE! Remember, if you’re not a part of the solution, you’re a part of the problem and if those Greektown Gyro Garbage chips show up on my grocery store shelves, we WILL have a problem.

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