Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lay's Sweet Onion

In 2012 Lays seemed to issue this limited edition flavor out of the blue: Sweet Onion.

I wasn't too enamored with the idea, and I learned that I felt the same about the taste.

With such a simple flavor base, as I expected, Lays calls upon a few other ingredients to play a support role.  Each bite begins strong with onion, which isn't unpleasant, but a formidable sweetness arises in the form of sugar.  Perhaps Lays worked a bit too hard to drive home the "sweet" onion character, as this combination doesn't seem very natural.  Midway through each bite and on the swallow, there is a strong herbal note of thyme, and perhaps even parsley and oregano.  The thyme note is strong, and I feel it's misplaced.  This strong herbal punch reminds me a bit of Lay's Chicken and Waffles.  Imagine a bunch of potatoes drowned in a run-of-the-mill sweet onion salad dressing, and you've got the picture.

I'm a potato chip freak, and if someone gave me another bag of these, it would gather dust on the shelf.  We're barely in the 2-NOM range, here.

Lay's Sweet Onion: - Good
Original Lay's(for comparison): - Great

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Doritos Jumpin' Jack

Doritos rolled out another limited edition flavor along with their continually-iterated Sour Cream & Onion.  This newbie is called Jumpin' Jack, and it has its own branded emblem and everything!

Let's face it: pepper jack cheese is freaking delicious, so much so that it should be incorporated to all of our favorite foods; it was simply a matter of time until this product was created.  Granted, Doritos already has several examples of its attempts in combining cheese, chiles, and spices (as does Cheetos and Fritos, for that matter), so this really isn't a new idea.

Whatever they changed this time, they got it right.  The flavor powder dusting on the chips looks lite, but these pack as much flavor as any Doritos mainstay.  Put a bit too simply, these taste like a spicy combination of the brand's flagship flavors Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch.  I actually crushed a handful of both the former and the latter and ate it with a spoon out of a bowl to see how right I was, and I wasn't far off.

The lady of the house commented that the cheese in the mix tasted a bit like plastic cheese.  I think that's her way of articulating the difference between this snack's light, young, and overly-creamy cheese flavor, as opposed to the fairly aged flavor of Nacho Cheese's seasoning.  And this cheese character invokes Monterey Jack surprisingly well.

Said creaminess on the tongue is cut by "spices"-- like onion, garlic, cumin, maybe coriander-- and chile, most of which is clearly jalapeno.  It doesn't get more complicated than that and there's not much more to say, but the balance in the seasoning is immaculate.  You'll keep reaching for these until they're gone.

These are just a hair away from 4-NOMs.

Doritos Jumpin' Jack:- Great
Original Doritos Nacho Cheese(for comparison):-Great

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pepsi X

In the eternal dichotomy of Coca-Cola and Pepsi, I've always been more of a Coke man, though I adore both products.  However, when it comes to producing ephemeral noms, deference need be given to Pepsi.

Perhaps it's because Pepsi is a smaller and a less universally monumental brand than Coke. Perhaps it feels its brand is able to be a bit more malleable without disappointing a literally global clientele that demands the same unchanging bliss, like Coke might feel.

Like a music artist unchained by the expectations of a corporate megalabel, Pepsi has issued variations of their products which, while perhaps not blockbuster sellers, have been exemplary in their innovative ideas and in quality.  Mountain Dew(a Pepsico brand) alone has been an ephemeral nom powerhouse, from my recent look at Mountain Dew Pitch Black line, to the DEWmocracy line, and more.  Classic Pepsi variations shouldn't be looked over either, however: who can't forget Crystal Pepsi, or perhaps the less-memorable Pepsi Blue... and of course my personal favorites Pepsi Holiday Spice and Pepsi Vanilla.

Well, Pepsi has done it again with a cross-branding venture called Pepsi X.  While the letter X can get a bit tiresome in branding, this product is specifically tied to the Fox TV show "The X Factor".

Why is a product named "X" or tied in with "The X Factor" flavored with dragonfruit?  I have no idea.  Dragonfruit products tend to never taste like dragonfruit; while exotic-looking on the outside, real dragonfruit actually tastes like very little on the inside.  Its mealy white flesh, while sweet, is flavored very subtley, with perhaps a little muskiness to it.

The more I drink this soda, the more I realize that there indeed might be dragonfruit in this drink.  The slight musky flavor is there, but I'm not sure there's any more dragonfruit likeness.  This stuff is sweeter than original Pepsi, as most of the Pepsi variants are.  Oddly, there's a slight spiciness that comes about on the tongue that approaches cinnamon and allspice.  Perhaps whatever dragonfruit flavors in the mix bring about Pepsi's already-present spices in its formula?  Anyway, I'm really enjoying it, and I'd go so far as to say that the heightened spices approach a character like Pepsi Holiday Spice, one of my favorite ephemeral noms of all time.

Pepsi knocks another flavored cola out of the park.

Pepsi X:- Great
Original Pepsi(for comparison):- Great

Monday, April 1, 2013

Lay's Do Us a Flavor

Lays has pulled a DEWmocracy-like move and has issued three limited time wacky flavors so that consumers can vote one of them into permanence

I often denigrate brands for not embracing creativity enough when it comes to limited time offerings, which is a time when truly wild ideas can be tested; too often marketers attempt to strike a balance between creativity and profitability, in my opinion.
In the case of these three varieties, while they certainly didn't lack creativity, I think they might have lacked finesse.
Chicken and Waffles: Easily my favorite of the three, this attempts to recreate the real-yet-odd southern American dish chicken and waffles.  While I prefer my chicken and waffles with the savory gravy or butter option, Lays opted to go full-wierd and use the maple syrup-topped version as their inspiration.  Although I usually dislike maple syrup, and I admit that McDonald's McGriddles is one of the most disgusting things I've ever had, these chips are pretty good.  They claim to have chicken flavor on them, but I don't taste it.  Instead, it seems that Lays attempted to invoke a chicken broth flavor with onions, garlic, and thyme.  Over this savory mix are notes of maple syrup and, while strange, it works.  They really missed the chance to make this stuff taste like chicken, though.  Chicken in a Biskit has been flavoring their crackers with full-on chicken bullion for years, and they're really great.  Anyway, would I buy these chips regularly?  I'm not sure yet.
Cheesy Garlic Bread: Cheesy garlic bread sounds like a lovely potato chip idea until you open the bag and realize that the cheese they used here is in the orange American cheese style.  Yes, instead of using an asiago- or parmesan-inspired powder, like the kind that might go onto a Mediterranean flavor, Lays has gone with possibly the same powder that they use for their Cheddar and Sour Cream chips.  This seems like an odd choice, since I doubt many people have had orange cheese on their garlic bread.  In kind, the flavor also doesn't really work on the chip.  While not bad, the flavor combinations seem misplaced.  The only thing saving this snack is the garlic flavor, which not only is firstly reminiscent of a simple garlic powder, but they somehow managed to secondly invoke the sweet taste of roasted garlic, which adds a bit of intrigue that I can't ignore.
Sriracha: What the hell?  Nothing about these remind me of sriracha.  In brutal honesty, it seems like Lays took the Cheesy Garlic Bread chips above and sprinkled on hot sauce and vinegar.  Looking at the ingredient list, it uncannily proclaims that both cheese and sour cream powders are on these chips.  What's worse, instead of mimicking the not-too-vinegary, sweet, smooth flavor of sriracha, these chips contain a biting and pointed acidity, with a hot sauce note that's highly similar to the aged pepper sauce flavor of Tabasco.  While orange cheese and Tabasco don't exactly taste bad together, the combination is very unsettling, and in no way mimics what's on the front of the bag.

What's my vote for this contest?  Chicken and Waffles.

Lay's Chicken and Waffles:- Good
Lay's Cheesy Garlic Bread:- Passable
Lay's Sriracha:- Passable
Original Lay's(for comparison):- Great

Acquired: Giant