You may have heard that Lay’s recently held a contest called “Do Us A Flavor”. where ‘regular folks’ submitted their ideas for a few new potato chip flavors. The flavors were released to the public just in time for National Potato Chip Day on March 14, 2013.
To celebrate National Potato Chip Day, we asked Chef Stephen Kalil, the Frito-Lay Executive Research Chef, to respond to a few of our potato chip questions.
Q. What is the true history of the potato chip?
A. The one story that keeps coming up whenever I’m doing research is a story of a chef named George Crum who worked at Moon Lake Lodge in Saratoga, New York. He served French-Fried Potatoes, which are thick-cut potatoes that are crispy on the outside but thick enough that you could spear with a fork. There was a customer that wanted theirs crispy, and this made George perplexed, so what he decided to do was play a joke on the customer and slice them very thin. They got so crispy you couldn’t spear them with a fork, and George thought he was going to one up on the customer. But the customer loved it, and they wound up on the menu and became very popular. For me and for Lay’s, the true history of the potato chip started 75 years ago when Herman Lay decided to manufacture and market these wonderful products.
Q. What kinds of trends do you see in people's potato chip flavor preferences and how have they changed over the years?
A. They’ve changed quite a bit. We went from sour cream and onion to chicken and waffles. I compare it to TV. When TV first came out it was black and white – simply salted potato chips. Then TV went to color. We were seeing flavors like barbeque and sour cream and onion. Now we have high definition TV, and we also have high definition flavors. Flavors that have layers and layers of different flavor experiences that a real food experience like chicken and waffles, cheesy garlic bread, or sriracha.
Q. Tell us about the top three finalist flavors for the “Do Us A Flavor” contest and what the winner receives.
A. The winner of this contest will get either $1,000,000 or 1% of net revenues, whichever is higher. We had 3.8 million submissions and we narrowed it down to the 3 top finalists. Their flavors are in the market right now. Christina gave us chicken and waffles, Karen submitted cheesy garlic bread, and Tyler submitted Sriracha. You can go to the store and you can taste these wonderful flavors and vote for your favorite on our Facebook page until May 4, 2013.
Q. Are there any new innovations in chips we can expect to see in the near future?
A. What we do here at the Frito Lay flavor kitchen is we craft the flavors into a real food experience. Then we take that experience and the different layers of flavors, and make sure we are delivering the same experience on the chip. There are always new innovations. Ruffle’s ridges got thicker with Ruffle’s Ultimate, and we added Ruffle’s Max with real food flavors. I think you will see more and more innovations coming in not just flavor but potato chip designs as well.
Q. Do they have recipes available that utilize these new chip flavors?
A. We’re submitting recipes for these food products that are on your website so that you can go home and actually make the food product that inspired the final flavor on the chip. They are very simple, but yet very delicious. They use wonderful products like Aunt Jemima pancake mix for the waffles and syrup. The cheesy garlic bread is just to-die-for, and the sriracha makes a wonderful dip for plain potato chips.
Q. If we missed submitting our ideas on new flavors for this contest, when will the next contest be?
A. Right now we’re really focused on this particular contest; we are in the heat of it right now with the 3 finalists. We’re going to see how it goes, learn from that and then see where we want to take it in the future.
Check out our review on the new potato chip flavors.
You can purchase these specialty potato chip flavors in the Phoenix area at Albertsons, Fry’s and Safeway.
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