Monday, September 29, 2014

All About Lay's: Russia

Hey kids. It's been slow news recently while we await to hear which flavors are going to win all these contests being held all over the world (like wtf, why are the World Cup contests still undecided in South America). So I decided to start a new segment here at The Chip Report, a segment dedicated not to the newest bag of chips, but to the standard range of flavors being produced every day in distant lands. Today, we'll start the segment with RUSSIA.
To begin, Lay's Russia has 3 ranges; Lay's: the traditional chip, Lay's Max: The thicker cut wavy style chip, and Lay's Strong: a Ruffles style chip that is also noted for "strong" flavors.

Lay's introduced their signature potato chips to the Russian market in 1992, a market that found salted potato slices boring. It wasn't until 2005 that Lay's did extensive market research across the whole of Russia to introduce flavors that would have more appeal to the Russian public. This research inspired Lay's to create Crab, Caviar, Pickled Cucumbers and a variety of unique flavors that would bring Lay's the success they had in their homeland. And later would lead to the introduction of Lay's Max and Lay's Strong.

Those signature Lay's make up the biggest line in Russia with flavors "Bacon", "Salted", "Cheese", "Green Onion", "White Mushrooms with Sour Cream", "Potatoes with Butter and Dill", "Sour Cream and Fresh Herbs"(which also comes in a Ruffled version, but because the flavor is mild it is just part of the Lay's line not the Strong line), "Pickled Cucumbers", and "Crab" (I can't find any official info regarding the status of "Red Caviar" flavor, but I find it unlikely it was discontinued, so I'll include it in this post... a LOT of countries only post some of the flavors they actually sell online, so it makes hunting them down a lot harder than you would think). Take a look.
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Russia's version of Lay's MAX are most comparable to our Lay's Wavy line. They are waved, thick cut, potato chips in "Meat on Coals","Cheese and Onion", and "Chicken Wings". Other nations, most notably the UK, also carry the MAX line, but as a Ruffled chip, so the brand depends on local markets.
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Finally is the Lay's Strong line. At first glance, these are Ruffles but under a different brand name... upon further inspection the Strong line shows it's character actually comes from a collection of Bold flavors. "Smoked Cheese", "Aspic with Horseradish" (don't know what Aspic is? Google it, it's Meat Gelatin bro), and "Spicy Hunting Sausages". This line is probably the most telling about the Russian market. Frito-Lay's own study found that Russian's considered the traditional Salted chip to be "boring" and the Strong collection is comprised of loud flavors. Most likely in an effort to provide Russian consumers with the bolder flavors that would appeal to them.
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So what do you think? Does any of Russia's range make your mouth water? Are you dreaming about those Butter and Dill flavored ones like I am?? Have you found and tried any of these? We'd love to know!  Sound off in the comments below.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Lay's USA Pico De Gallo

Here is a bag that should be an easy find for US chip hunters. "Pico de Gallo" flavor has been out for a year now and I've just finally gotten around to trying it. #oops
This flavor was chosen as part of a Frito-Lay employee only contest to create a new flavor. The winner Samuel Oliveros is a customer service representative at Frito-Lay in Manteca California who used his Hispanic upbringing as inspiration for the flavor. In an email interview with The Chip Report, Oliveros told us "Since it's pretty much tradition at any Hispanic event such as parties or just a home cooked meal I had no doubt that would be my choice" and that he wanted to create a flavor that was "something everyone likes".

When trying this bag, I had a bit of excitement, I like the idea of acidic flavors with salty chips. And while I think the inspiration was a fantastic choice, ultimately it fails to meet expectations. Sadly, my shorthand notes sum this bag up pretty well... I wrote "Bro, these taste like Tomato, bro". It's hard to describe this bag better than that. The bag smells like Tomato, the chips taste like Tomato, and the color looks like Tomato. Instead of the promised complexity of Tomato, Onion, Cilantro, and some heat... you get a one note flavor. Maybe there is a peek of Lime... but it is quickly lost. Just the authentic fruity flavor of Tomato off the vine. The potato itself is average... so across the board this bag is dull. Lay's USA definitely need to focus a bit on their Salsa flavors though. We just reviewed their "Mango Salsa" flavor and it suffered from the same lack of complexity and overwhelming fruity-ness. They should look towards their "Garden Tomato and Basil" flavor for inspiration (which I am not a fan of, but the flavor has character and complexity).

The idea for this bag was great, and Samuel Oliveros had some words of wisdom for those of us who hope to win the next "Do Us A Flavor" competition "My advice to anyone trying to submit a winning flavor would be to not necessarily think outside the box. There are tons of simple ingredients that can create a winning flavor."

It's nice to see that Frito-Lay appreciates the ideas of their employees as much as their customers... especially when we get to see new flavors because of it ;p It would be nice to see this contest again, maybe this year ;ppp (hint hint)

So... have you tried this bag? Did you like it? Does it even compare to flavors like "Chicken & Waffles" or "Wasabi Ginger"? Sound off down below...

BONUS FACT: Samuel Oliveros' favorite flavor before he got his own flavor was BBQ.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Margarita Colombia Receta Clasica Alitas BBQ

Here is a bag I've been waiting to try for some time now; Margarita Colombia's Receta Clasica Alitas BBQ. "Receta Clasica" refers to the "Classic Recipe" style cook on these chips... they are really quite similar to Kettle Chips (and the packaging is very reminiscent of the Kettle bags we see worldwide). There is a big difference though... these bad boys are cooked with the skin ON. mmm, SKIN. I personally like to see potato skins on the edges of the chip, I feel like the potato looks fresher... I know; weird. The chip is thicker than a normal cut, and thus has a ton more crunch. The flavor is "Alitas BBQ" or "BBQ Chicken Wings". The sweet bbq flavor definitely comes through from the moment you smell the open bag to the last bite. The prominent flavor that comes through is first Chicken, and then it's joined by that sweetness and a nice variety of savory spice from the BBQ sauce seasoning. The bold combo tasted fantastic on these thicker, crunchier, skin-on chips. All in all, a great bag, definitely worth the hunt. The only other comment I'll make about it, is that I thought it reminded me a lot of Margarita's "Pollo a la Brasa" flavor, albeit on a different cut chip. And I find this cut to be more suited to it. If given a choice between the 2, I would hands down grab this one off the rack.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Lay's USA Kettle Cooked Lattice Cut Aged Cheddar & Black Pepper

I've been looking forward to trying these for some time now. That photo of the Lattice Cut chip on the front looks AMAZING! mmm.
However, in my opinion, the texture of this chip is TOO hard. It's crunchy and it's pretty, but they were just too thin and hard for me. At first smell, you catch the black pepper aroma. The chip touches your tongue and it takes some work to crack through them with your teeth. But the texture is different and unique, so many may enjoy it for the exact reason that it gave me issue.
The yummy thickness of the crunchy potato adds that pure potato taste I look for in a chip, and that taste is complimented by a nice mellow, creamy sharp cheddar flavor. It isn't over powering, it's fairly subtle. Then the refreshing spice cuts through the sharp cheese and rich, thick, potato. Afterwards, the pepper stays bright on the middle of your tongue. This flavor combination comes across as elegant and well thought out. I really enjoyed the flavor. I definitely hadn't tried any flavor like it before.
I enjoyed the chip cut because it was new and exciting, but it's not a favorite. I could see this seasoning being well suited for Lay's typical Kettle Cooked chips... and while it also works here, sadly, I don't think the Lattice Cut is ever gonna be one of my favorites. But, I would eat it again, and if you are looking for interesting new flavors from Lay's USA, I think this needs to be on your list.