- Chip flavors have gone beyond salted and barbecue in recent years.
- Lay's holds an annual Do Us A Flavor campaign, which has generated some unexpected flavors.
- Among the more surprising flavors are Cajun squirrel and pecan pie.
There are classic chip flavors like barbecue and salt and vinegar ... and then there are more adventurous flavors.
In the potato-chip world there are the classics: your barbecues, sour cream and onions, salt and vinegars, perhaps a lightly salted kettle chip.
And then there are the more surprising, certainly more adventurous flavors.Some are the result of Frito-Lay's Do Us A Flavor campaign, which started in 2012. Others are novelties that companies sold for limited runs.
Ahead of National Potato Chip Day on March 14, we compiled a list of some of the most unexpected potato-chip flavors in recent history.
In 2009, someone submitted Cajun squirrel-flavored chips into Walkers' Do Us A Flavor challenge in the UK.
Walkers, the UK subsidiary of Frito-Lay, holds a Do Us A Flavor competition like its parent company. In 2009, someone suggested Cajun squirrel flavor and the company chose it as one of the six flavors for the public to vote on.
Even considering that year's other contestants — fish and chips, chili and chocolate, crispy duck and hoisin, onion bhaji, and builder's breakfast (eggs, bacon, sausage, and beans) — and the fact that squirrel meat is used in some parts of North America, it's still pretty unexpected for a chip flavor.
The six flavors were released as part of a limited run before the public voted on their favorite for a full production run. Ultimately, the squirrel flavor failed to win over enough fans, and the builder's breakfast flavor was declared the winner.
For the fall and winter of 2013, Pringles released a cinnamon-and-sugar flavor.
Cinnamon and sugar work well together dusted on a warm toasted piece of bread or some fresh churros. But a potato chip?
According to the food blog Brand Eating, the chip's aroma evoked notes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal and the flavor was "pretty decent."
Around the same time, Pringles also released a pecan pie chip.
Pecan pie is a staple American dessert, especially around the holidays. Who's to say it wouldn't be just as good in chip form?
Brand Eating wrote in 2013 that the flavor was more akin to maple syrup than pecan pie. Overall, the site concluded that the chip was enjoyable, especially if you like sweet and salty treats.
Pringles confirmed on Twitter in 2018 that the flavor had been discontinued due to a "low fan base."
In 2013, one of the four contestants in Lay's Canada's flavor competition was creamy garlic Caesar.
Who doesn't love a good creamy ... garlic ... Caesar ... salad ... chip? According to Serious Eats, the chip wasn't actually that bad. The author did, however, feel it was too close to the classic sour cream and onion potato chip and said it lacked innovation.
It failed to win the competition that year — it was beaten by a "maple moose" flavor, which the Daily Meal called "one of the wildest chip flavors ever." The publication noted the winning flavor tasted both sweet and meaty.
Lay's has sold chicken and waffles potato chips periodically since 2013.
The chip was introduced as a Do Us a Flavor competitor in 2013 but ultimately lost the competition to cheesy garlic bread. But the chip remains a fan favorite. Lay's brought back the competition finalist in 2017 as part of the company's "Flavor All Stars" campaign and again exclusively at Kroger stores in 2020.
In 2014, Lay's trialed a cappuccino-flavored potato chip.
There are so many coffee-inspired desserts and treats, did the world really need a cappuccino potato chip?
The cappuccino potato chip was a contestant in Lay's Do Us A Flavor competition in 2014.
Nick O'Malley of MassLive.com has reviewed most of the wacky flavors Lay's has released throughout the years. Of the cappuccino chips he wrote, "At the very least, I respect the ambition. They swung for the fences. I kind of liked them, but mostly because of morbid curiosity."
However, it was beaten by another flavor ...
A kettle-cooked wasabi ginger-flavored chip ultimately won the 2014 Lay's Do Us A Flavor contest.
Thousands of Americans voted for the flavor as their favorite during Lay's 2014 contest. As well as the cappuccino flavor, it beat cheddar bacon mac & cheese and mango salsa. If you go heavy on the ginger and wasabi while eating sushi, this chip is right up your alley.
In 2015, Southern biscuits and gravy was the Lay's Do Us A Flavor winner.
There are a lot of flavors and textures present in this Southern staple — there's the buttery taste and flakiness of a biscuit and the rich, creamy gravy. It seems difficult to capture all of that in a single chip.
Somehow, Lay's seems to have nailed the flavor combination because it resonated with voters during the 2015 Do Us A Flavor campaign.
It beat West Coast truffle fries, New York Reuben, and Greektown gyro flavors.
In 2016, Lay's tried to capture the essence of Szechuan chicken in a chip.
In 2016, Lay's rolled out its Passport to Flavor program, a lineup of four chips inspired by cuisines from around the world. They were Brazilian picanha, Chinese Szechuan chicken, Greek tzatziki, and Indian tikka masala.
Nick O'Malley of MassLive.com found the Szechuan chicken chips to be "the worst potato chip I've ever eaten."
"These take nothing like chicken," O'Malley wrote. "They taste nothing like Szechuan pepper. They taste nothing like any Asian food I've ever had ... These taste like eating a fortune cookie covered in lukewarm soy sauce, washed down with a porter-style beer brewed and chipotle peppers."
One of the 2017 Lay's Do Us A Flavor entries was everything bagel.
Last year, Jeni's Ice Cream released an everything bagel ice cream and immediately created a rift between people who liked burnt pieces of garlic in their ice cream and those who didn't.
Lay's everything bagel chip seems to have evoked the same take-it-or-leave-it sentiment. In his ranking of weird Lay's potato chips, MassLive.com'sNick O'Malley wrote, "I thought this flavor would end up better, but it's ultimately a solid middle-of-the pack chip."
That year, crispy taco ended up winning the flavor competition and its $1 million prize.
In 2019, Lay's partnered with singer Bebe Rexha to release a flamin' hot and dill pickle-flavored chip.
Lay's and many other chip brands regularly sell dill pickle chips but adding flamin' hot spices to the mix makes for one peculiar-sounding chip. But if spicy pickles are your thing, this chip is a match made in heaven.
The flavor was part of Lay's 2019 "Turn Up the Flavor" collaboration with Bebe Rexha, which aimed to pair chip flavors with genres of music. In addition to the flamin' hot dill pickle remix, which was inspired by hip-hop music, there was the pop-inspired wavy electric lime and sea salt and kettle cooked classic beer cheese for rock.
Walkers' roast chicken chip channels all the flavors of the classic entree.
Don't have time to stop at the grocery store for a rotisserie chicken? You can always eat Walkers' roast chicken instead. The chips, or crisps as they say across the pond, have numerous positive reviews on Amazon.
In 2016, the company took it a step further and introduced a roast chicken, mayonnaise, and cheese flavor as part of a newselection based on favorite sandwich fillings.
Prawn cocktail is another popular choice in the UK, but might sound odd to Americans.
Prawn cocktail Walkers crisps are beloved in the UK — rather than tasting like prawns, or shrimp, they taste like a sauce known as Marie Rose, a tangy cocktail sauce served alongside prawns. KP Skips also sells a prawn cocktail-flavored chip.
In China, Lay's sells a cucumber-flavored chip.
Cucumber potato chips sound a little bit baffling because the vegetable doesn't have that strong of a flavor. That being said, cukes are delicious, so maybe they translate well in chip form.
There are also blueberry-flavored Lay's chips.
Blueberries are delicious on their own and the flavor combination sounds intriguing. This flavor is also sold in Asia.
"They're actually pretty good!" one travel blogger wrote. "Sour, sweet, and salty."
In India, Lay's sells a "mint mischief" potato chip.
Judging by the packaging, which includes pictures of mint leaves, lime wedges, and a small green pepper, there's more going on here than the name implies.
A blogger at Eating the World wrote in 2009: "These chips were conundrum to my American palate, since Mint is usually associated with sweet and not savory (except mint jelly with lamb, I guess). [...] But in the end, I really enjoyed the mint mischief chips and their unique flavor combination."