Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Welcome to the potato chip apocalypse...

Let's get this shit-show started!

Hey, Kid.  Wanna buy some questionable fungus flavors?
You're gonna get a two-fer today.  First up, Lay's Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries!  

Holy Crap, Man! Truffle Fries!  Do you know how much good truffle fries are worth!?!  They gotta get these pigs, see?  And they train them to sniff out these weird fungus nodules that grow underground, right?  And they sell those soil-caked mushroom lumps to high-end restaurants for a shitload of money!  It's such a unique, rich, earthy flavor that they even press smaller bits into, like, olive oil and shit.  Then these fungal geniuses fry something simple like dumb old potatoes in that oil, and Get This; Those potatoes now taste like they've got really expensive truffles IN THEM!!!

At least, that's the idea.  Let us just be subtle and say that the execution of this concept seems to lack some initiative on the part of Lay's potato chips.  I know they're a multimillion dollar company, but practically speaking you're not going to find any actual truffles in a bag of potato chips that has $1.49 stamped on the bag...
I don't even use a fish-eye lens to get the bag to look this empty...
When I opened the bag I noticed that the large, wavy chips are sprinkled in green.  I seriously thought they had put sour cream & onion chips in by mistake.  But, no, they are not, as the flavor is at once strong and yet vague.  I tried to pick out individual flavors, but all I got was a generic uncertain herbal shadow on a slightly spiced salty undertone.  There may have been something ever so tangentially related to cheese involved here as well, maybe.  I did not, in any way, taste truffles.  

I thought, "Hey, maybe I'm not smelling enough to taste the truffle?" Seeing as much of flavor is a combo of taste and smell, and knowing that truffles are aromatic as hell, I stuck my nose in the bag.  I will tell you that I did not smell herbs, spices, cheese, potatoes and I sure as hell didn't smell truffles.  To be quite honest, all I could smell was Dirt.  Fake Dirt, boring dirt, maybe dirt that had a trace of rot in it.  In an attempt to fake the flavor of truffles/truffle oil, they have succeeded in making me think of dry loam.

These chips taste/smell like seasoned crispy dirt.  And after smelling that I can't not taste it that way from now on forever...

Rating: 1.1/5.0 WTF?

What is. . . I mean. . .I guess the colors are nice.
ROUND 2: Lay's Southern Biscuits and Gravy!

How should I start this?  I'm trying to separate, in my head, these chips from the Truffle Dirt.  I opened the last bag, ate a few, and then left the rest out for the wolves in the office.  These I opened second and, assuming I wasn't so underwhelmed by the last bag by comparison, I actually thought they were pretty good.  Maybe?  Maybe only be comparison to the soil crisps?

Object are fuller than they appear...

Let's start with smell.  They smell good, or at least inviting.  I suppose I should be happy that neither this nor the last bag had any Red Nuke Powder in them.  Nothing here burns the nose hairs off.  The flavor is also attractive.  Salty, spice, a hint of umami.  Truth be told, the combination of taste and smell was actually somewhat reminiscent of actual biscuits and gravy.  But, ultimately it falls short.  Think about the actual meal.  You'll need the smell and taste of a buttermilk biscuit with salt and butter and a bit of caramelization of the carbs, and over that is a rich, salty cream/dairy-based gravy with a lot of fresh cracked pepper as well as all the flavors linked to the crumbled-up cooked sausage.  It may not be possible to get all of this in a bag of chips.  

That being said, they threw a rock at the broad side of a barn and managed to at least clip the edge.  I think these chips would stand out more if labeled as a "mystery flavor".  Don't tell anybody what they're supposed to taste like and let people make up their own minds.  Or don't try to think what they might taste like, just enjoy the flavor they are.  I can imagine these going quite well as a companion side to some cold macaroni salad or something.

Incidentally, there is a noticeable greasy sensation on the lips, this in combination with the other spices and flavors makes me think more of truffle oil than the other bag.  Not as the primary flavor, but you might have been able to convince me it was one of the ingredients.  

I actually want to split the rating on this one between what it wants to be, and what it is.

Rating:  2.0/5.0 as Biscuits & Gravy flavor
              3.5/5.0 as its own unspecified mystery snack flavor.

Coming up.... the other two.

Monday, July 27, 2015

I feel out of practice...

Hello darkness my old friend....

I've come to eat Red Nuke Powder again.

And tell the people about these chips that suck.

Or maybe be rewarded for pressing my luck.

For these chips are the warm-up to next week.

Weird flavors I seek...

Nice rich welcoming color, no blaring typesets or screaming color schemes...
Today is Lay's Sweet Southern Heat Barbecue chips.  This was the only flavor at the Stuffer Shack that I hadn't tried yet.  As you can see the label has a red chili of some sort, disemboweled for you to gaze upon.  There also appears to be a bowl of ketchup, or maybe cranberry sauce.  As usual, the bag feels light and is puffed full of air to imitate fullness.  I read somewhere that in the puff-bag model of distribution looking full and bigger is a bonus effect, the original purpose being to keep the chips inside from breaking as the container is its own airbag.  Whatever, I still feel cheated.

I am already wary.  Is that RNP or Tang?
The chips themselves taste fresh and they are quite crisp.  The color is off-orange of sorts, usually indicative of RNP but in this case may be purposeful coloring to suggest BBQ sauce.  The flavor is not the usual round-house kick to the tonsils I've been experiencing lately, but it isn't subtle.  There is a nice, semi-sweet flavor of a well spiced barbecue sauce over a mild but defined potato flavor.  But then the magic happens...

There is some heat here.  Not the weird chemical warfare that happens to your face when you eat anything with Red Nuke Powder on it, but heat none the less.  It grows slowly, so much so that I didn't notice it until I was on my 4th or 5th chip.  It also has a nice plateau of heat that is well below tolerable, if not actually pleasant.  It's as if the chips themselves are saying, "Yeah, man, I'm spicy.  But it's the kind of spicy you like.  I want you to finish my bag without pain or suffering.  Just a pleasant low simmer for you to enjoy at your leisure..."

Thanks, chips, I think I will.

Rank 4.1/5.0 - These were actually quite good, I would eat them again. I imagine these would be great old school baloney sandwiches and some Kool-Aid.

So, this was the warm up.  Something easy to work out, like a slow walk on a sunday morning.  But, worse things are coming.  You know what I mean.  The Lay's "Do Us a Flavor" promotion has started.  Be on the lookout in coming weeks for the following atrocities:

Kettle Cooked Gyros  <--I had 1 single chip of these already, in a word: bland
Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries  <--I already know these will suck because real truffles will not be involved
Southern Biscuits & Gravy  <--I reserve judgement on what appears to be horrible
New York Reuben <--First, Nebraska invented the Reuben, so fuck that noise.  Also, will probably suck because it has the option of being great and so the furthest to fall.

So, yeah, look forward to these trainwrecks.  I can't help but feel that, compared to last year, these are all weak-sauce flavors.  None of them are uniquely weird like the cappuccino of last year, they're all kind of a safe bet.  But I guess we'll find out soon enough.