Monday, May 28, 2012

Lay's Classic BLT Flavored Potato Chips

Today we're looking at a new, likely short-lived, chip flavor from the fine folks at Lay's.  Before examining the chip itself I feel both Lay's and the BLT sandwich need their proper due via my reminisces and thoughts.  Pull up a chair or if riding on the subway whilst reading steal a quick glance at the hottie across the aisle and dive right into this purposeless prose!

So everyone knows Lay's, right?  At least in some incarnation.  My father was always a big Lay's Classic potato chip guy.  Which was the "original" flavor -- no special seasonings or gimmicks just salty, greasy chips.  But, their old tag line, "betcha can't eat just one" was always a grave challenge.  As a young child I wondered if there were some sort of scientific data to back up this claim.  I can recall multiple attempts I made.  Eating one chip quickly, and folding up the bag and tossing it away, already planning my victory parade for besting the dolts at Lay's.  But, the questions start arising, after eating that initial chip, how long do you have until you can eat the next one?  An hour?  Or perhaps a day?  Or was the challenge ultimately betting that we couldn't go our entire lifetimes with having just eaten one Lay's branded potato chip?  One last anecdote from childhood.  I remember seeing on a bag of Lay's one afternoon an 800-number where you could call and give your comments.  I'd never heard of such a thing.  When you're young the phone is a mysterious tool that gives you access the a world outside of the confines of home.  So I called.  It was as uneventful as you can imagine and I'd kill for an audio recording of that conversation today.  I remember it was a female representative who answered my call, I sheepishly told her my dad was a big fan of their chips, we ate them all the time, and that's about all I could choke out.  So that's my background with Lay's, what about BLT sandwiches?

When was the last time you've had an honest to goodness BLT?  While I remember the taste as if it was only yesterday I've admittedly not had one in, I don't know, at least a decade or more?  And it's not that their not good by any means.  For starters, when dining out, most places don't offer them on the menu, but in my case if you ever find a place that does they seem to pale in comparison to other items, perhaps due to familiarity and comfort of your favorites (i.e. a Philadelphia cheesesteak).  The one place I can think of offhand locally that has them I can recall a deterrent being  it seems like you'd get less for your money.  A BLT is a big winner in the flavor department but there's not really a lot to them -- toast, bacon (which is typically used as an extra add-on like on burgers not the main ingredient), and the veggies (which are fewer than what you'd get on the typical burger or hoagie).  I remember my mom making them on a few occasions in my youth but outside of that I don't believe our paths have crossed since.  One last note, a lot of my friends are picky eaters, but when it comes to the BLT, you can't really alter its contents.  Of course, you must have the salty, crunchy bacon, as well as the crisp lettuce and juicy, fresh tomato slices, but equally essential and important are the toast and mayonnaise.  These five factors join in a tantalizing taste union -- you do not add or subtract from the BLT you just bask in its simplicity and glory!

So, introductory tango aside, how are these chips?  Just like when walking out after a screening of The Last Airbender I had mixed feelings.  No Water, Earth, or Air nations here -- just a general malaise.  First, what did I like?  Well, a lot of times when reviewing stuff for RtW, be it for articles or on video, I pitch the item soon after and rarely finish a lot of the junk food I sample.  I actually ate this entire bag.  Granted, it wasn't a big bag, but they were good enough to grub on in-front of the TV.  Where they disappoint is they don't entirely capture the BLT aura.  There's certainly hints in there.  The bacon is present, not overpowering, and not overtly smokey which is a common cheap tactic in replicating bacon flavor in products.  The tomato seems missing, which is strange, as I've had lots of tomato and ketchup flavored snacks before so it's not a foreign concept in snacking.  A few people I chatted with wondered how would they represent lettuce?  The answer is they basically reused their "Sour Cream & Onion" formula which is pat and insipid when you're expecting something creative and new.  In fact, the chips largely taste like that more familiar variety of Lay's, with some bacon flourishes added in, and that's not quite different or unique enough to live up to expectations I'd generated.  In theory, cool idea, thought the packaging was nice, but in execution they were a slight letdown when they had potential to be a real fresh and tasty flavor of chip.

Overall Grade: C+ 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

OBT presents: Crawford III

The third and final chapter in the "Oh, Brother!" Team's infamous Crawford trilogy. What happens when one member of OBT tosses a dead rat into another's face? Tune in and find out.