Gross flavors available at a store near you

By Courtney Downing | The Duquesne Duke
By Courtney Downing | The Duquesne Duke
By Courtney Downing | The Duquesne Duke

By Jacqui Hatch  | Student Columnist

What do a competitive kick boxer from Lake Zurich, Ill., a mother of two from Land O’ Lakes, Wis., and an adolescent blogging-foodie from Phoenix, Az. have in common? They are all finalists for Frito Lay’s Do Us a Flavor competition.

In honor of its 75th anniversary, Lay’s potato chips sought the help Americans nationwide to create their most mouthwatering and spunky flavor to date. The finalists also managed to create just yet another reason to pack on the calories, and just in time for spring break.

How convenient and nice of them …

After spending the weekend with bite size versions of my new friends Chicken & Waffles, Sriracha, and Cheesy Garlic Bread, I’ve come to the conclusion that Lay’s completely overdid themselves, and not in a standard you’ll get excited over. I also learned no riveting epiphany is worth a bag full of breakfast flavored chips, even in the name of research.
This past summer when Lays tapped into social media to invent a new flavor I was kind of stoked. A competition that consists of little effort and big dollar sign rewards is every broke college kids’ dream. Contest rules were so simple with few to zero drawbacks- enter a flavor you think would become America’s new munching past time and if selected win a million dollars.  It was a piece of cake.

Actually, though, it was just spuds.

I ended uploading two flavors that I thought were fitting – French toast with powdered sugar and Paula Dean’s tangy peach barbeque sauce. Come to think of it, neither sounds all that appetizing as a chip. But participating made the contest all the more fun to follow. As entries started pouring in, you could tell who was serious about creating a flavor and who was poking fun; trying to get competition host Eva Longoria’s attention.

Crab grass and Yo Mama are not appropriate flavors, fellas. I came across some really good ones like spinach & sour cream, roasted garlic & rosemary, and banana split sundae. I was slightly disheartened to see those disappear from the ballot. Can’t say I ever envisioned cake batter, chicken pot pie, or spaghetti and meatballs as a chip flavor. But I guess if Chicken and Waffles makes the cut, anything goes.

It seems Lay’s put all the pressure on us while they got the media attention and racked up the social media followers. First we have to come up with a flavor. Now, they’re making us choose from the lesser of three nauseating evils.

Typically, I wouldn’t mash someone’s ingenious appeal to potatoes but eating one of the Chicken and Waffles chips was quite possibly one of the most ridiculous things I have ever consumed. Starting with the stench, it was pretty foul, and even that is probably an understatement. Just one whiff and I could convince myself I had just sat in the local IHOP kitchen for the past 24 hours. It was KFC leftovers meets stale brown sugar meets “No, I do not want another.”

Taking the spotlight off of Chicken and Waffles, Cheesy Garlic Bread has its flaws too. It takes no critic to know that no one wants to eat a stale and crunchy breadstick, thus these chips present a problem, offering just that. Without the softness and warmth the result is a stale, cheese infused breadstick, with a side of potato.

I am a bit of a baby when it comes to hot-n-spicy, but I liked the Sriracha. It felt natural, like just a revamped hotter and tangier barbeque. I think people will respond well to its taste, but I don’t think it’s going to be the top runner.
Even though my vote isn’t going to be swayed otherwise, my hunch is winner winner chicken [and waffles] dinner for the win. We’ve seen spicy and cheesy  done before. What we haven’t seen before and never saw coming is Chicken and Waffles.

I speak for myself and myself only but growing up my mother never slapped an Eggo next to my drumstick, it’s just kind of abstract and farfetched. But that’s why it’s most likely going to win. We like to be surprised and that’s what this unique marriage of breakfast and dinner does to us. This case is right up there with green ketchup, clear Pepsi, and pink butter.
Maybe you can spread that on your waffle chips.

There has been some pretty out there moments in the history of our grocery aisles, this just adds to the madness we appropriately categorize as junk food.

Need more convincing? From Texas to the Carolinas chicken and waffles is dubbed a southern favorite. Any menu listing that has these two words on it is an unfair advantage. Outside this southern territory the combination has been sold at Michigan State, Ball State University, and USC concession stands for some of their major sporting events, mainly football.

This underestimated trend is sweeping our nation, our sporting events and will soon be sweeping our grocery stores next to the original flavored potato chips that seem to be going out of style with cheetos, pretzels, and dare I say it, Doritos.

You guys just aren’t cool anymore.

Nothing personal.

Jacqui Hatch is a senior integrated marketing communications and print journalism major and can be reached at