It's that time of year again. Wasabi Ginger, Chicken and Waffles, Bacon, Cheesy Garlic Bread and more been made into Lay's Potato Chips for past versions of Frito-Lay's annual "Do Us a Flavor" contest, in which fans around the country pick the next great potato chip flavor. Recently, PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division, Plano, Texas, introduced the top contenders in this year's contest: Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries, Southern Biscuit & Gravy, New York Reuben and Greektown Gyro-flavored potato chips.
Lay's chip lovers have until Oct. 18 to vote for their favorite of the four at www.dousaflavor.com, through Twitter (follow @Lays for details), on www.YouTube.com/Lays, through the Lay’s Facebook page or by using their cell phone to text FLAVOR to CHIPS (24477), or by texting to 24477. The best idea will win someone $1 million or 1 percent of their flavor’s net sales (whichever is higher) and the new Lay's flavor will be sold nationally.
Last year, a Philadelphia nurse named Meneko Spigner McBeth received the win for her spicy Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger chips. This year's finalists are unusual for sure. The four favorites are tracked on the "Do Us A Flavor" site and show a state by state preference. It's a very clever contest, and never gets boring. During the entry phase, participants were required to submit a flavor name, up to three ingredients, the inspiration and location of the inspiration and even a chip style (Original, Wavy, and/or Kettle Cooked).
Frito-Lay developed and produced the finalist chip flavors as limited-time offerings, and distributed them for retail sale in mid July. What's surprising is that none of the flavors thsi time is particularly hot and spicy or fiery, which is said to be the big trend this year. There's not a sriracha, chili, ghost pepper or Harissa flavor profile in sight where the top four finalists are concerned.
All of the research seems to say that more consumers, and millennials imparticularly, desire spicy and even extreme food flavors, so it's curious that the judges didn't include a spicy entry this year. That's not to say that Frito-Lay doesn't make super spicy snacks. In May, it unveiled Doritos Roulette, where one in every six chips in a bag is supposed to be 10 times hotter than an jalapeno pepper. The new Doritos variety has reportedly been a hit, as Pepsi CFO Hugh Johnston called Roulette one of the new products helping to "drive strong sales" in the company's second quarter.
Perhaps the Do Us a Flavor contest judges, a panel comprising chefs, foodies and flavor experts, wanted a change or recognized a disadvantage with spicier entries, if there were any spicier entries, which is that some potato chip fans just dislike super heat. We'll see what America chooses as the winning flavor, which will be revealed in November.