Just as Americans are busy stuffing their faces and voting for their favorite Lay’s Do Us A Flavor finalist here in the States, our Canadian neighbors to the North are doing the same. However, they are munching on a different set of finalists. Our friend @JunkFoodDog on Twitter graciously offered to send us the Canadian finalists to review on this site, and review we shall!
In Canada, the Lay’s Do Us a Flavour Contest got off to a curious and hilarious start back in 2013. In the contest’s inaugural year, the finalists were Grilled Cheese & Ketchup, Creamy Garlic Caesar, Perogy Platter, and Maple Moose. Yes, you read that correctly: Maple Moose. The flavor was a combination of moose meat and maple syrup. While many were disgusted with the flavor combination, Canada voted for it anyway as a sick joke. Maple Moose won, but nobody bought it because they all hated it. It was promptly discontinued. This makes me want to hang out with Canada.
In 2014, The Lay’s Do Us A Flavour Contest returned to The Great White North. Although we didn’t have this blog at the time, I still paid a stranger $40 on eBay to send me the finalists. In my opinion, Canada completely dominated us with their chips in 2014. Canada’s finalists were Tzatziki, Jalapeño Mac n’ Cheese, Bacon Poutine, and Cinnabon Bun. Jalapeño Mac n’ Cheese took home the crown, but Tzatziki may have been one of my favorite chips of all time. RIP Tzatziki.
That brings us to the 2015 contest. The finalists are: Montreal Smoked Meat, Prince Edward Islands Scalloped Potatoes, Butter Chicken, and Cowboy BBQ Baked Beans.
Inspiration: “Montreal Smoked Meat sandwiches are emblematic of their namesake city’s cuisine. Zdravko Gunjevic was inspired to create the flavour because it’s such a delicious dish that not only can be ordered in delis throughout Quebec, but throughout Canada and around the world too!“
That’s news to me, Zdravko. I’ve never heard of a Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich, but I am in. According to our friends at Wikipedia, the meat is made by salting and curing beef brisket with spices. As a sandwich, the meat is covered in a heavy dosage of mustard. That’s exactly what I taste with these chips. I’m reminded of corned beef, but with an increased smoky element. The flavor of fresh mustard permeates throughout the chew. The only spice I am able to distinguish with certainty is garlic, but I enjoy this seasoning overall. While the flavor profile isn’t too complex, it’s certainly effective as I’ve now eaten a shameful amount of these chips despite having three flavors left to review.
Inspirational Story Rating: 4.5 out of 10
I Ate Too Many Rating: 8 out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 out of 10
P.E.I. SCALLOPED POTATOES RATING
(Submitted by Jordan Cairns)
Inspiration: “Inspired by Atlantic Canada’s reputation for potato cultivation, one of Jordan Cairns’ fondest memories of growing up was when he sat down to big family dinners on Friday nights and holidays. His favourite side dish at these meals was always the freshly baked, rich and cheesy scalloped potatoes.”
We all love cheesy potatoes, Jordan. But as a chip, this combination excited me the least. Since the main ingredient in scalloped potatoes is already potatoes (Google it), these potato chips would have to be super rich on cheese, butter, and cream to be noticeably different than anything currently on the market. If you are as dumb as I am, you had to Google “PEI” when you saw this flavor. Though I suspect these to be Prince Edward Island Scalloped Potato Chips, I am deeply concerned that they might be Playboy Enterprises International Scalloped Potatoes Chips.
Sampling them, these chips don’t deliver what they promise. The seasoning is far too mild. For a cheesy potato flavor, I’m shocked that I’m not tasting any cheese. Even more puzzling, cheese isn’t even an ingredient on the list. Think Cheesy Garlic Bread chips without the cheese. There’s a creamy element here that is somewhat comforting, but my taste buds are only getting faint hints of garlic and onion powder. Nothing exciting.
Inspirational Story Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Forgot To Add Any Cheese Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Overall Rating: 3 out of 10
(Submitted by Darryl Francispillai)
Inspiration: “Darryl Francispillai was inspired by his South Asian heritage and love of Indian food for his Butter Chicken Flavour. It’s one of his favourite dishes and a nod to multiculturalism!”
I’m all about multiculturalism, Darryl! For the uninitiated, Butter Chicken is not butter-ed chicken. (Note to Self: Submit “Buttered Chicken” in 2016) Butter Chicken is a popular Indian dish that features chicken in a mildly spiced curry sauce. We have seen international flavors do well recently. In this very contest, Wasabi Ginger won the U.S. crown in 2014. But delicious Indian spices carry untapped potential abroad. If you don’t like Indian spices, you probably won’t like these chips. But I do.
The spice blend is magnificent. I pick up creamy tomato with an array of onion, garlic, cumin, ginger, and what might even be cinnamon. This is going to be overwhelming for some, but it’s right in my wheelhouse. There is a decent heat that creeps up on you and tickles the back of your throat. I love the execution on this flavor. But… it’s an aggressive seasoning for a chip. I couldn’t eat too many of these without craving something simpler. Or maybe I shouldn’t have eaten so many Montreal Smoked Meat chips.
Inspirational Story Rating: 7 out of 10
Finally Gives India Its Due Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 out of 10
COWBOY BBQ Beans
(Submitted by Brenda Boghean)
Inspiration: “For Brenda Boghean, heading to the rodeo is a tradition. One of her favourite parts of the festival is the delicious food. Beans, slow-cooked in BBQ sauce, served alongside her favourite cut of beef is the quintessential rodeo dish and really captures the essence of cowboy culture.”
Can I come to the rodeo too, Brenda? Baked Beans is a BBQ staple here in the States too. For me, it’s the first side dish that comes to mind when I think of a backyard BBQ. I have been known to stuff my face with potato chips at these events as well, so this pairing feels like it will be a hit. Though I really want to stop eating potato chips at this point, I have to march on. WORTH IT. The chips are sweet & tangy, with elements of brown sugar and molasses delivering the sweet, and elements of mustard and ketchup delivering the tang. Along with the standard onion and garlic spice combo, we have a little bit of smokiness that mimics BBQ sauce. What’s more – these actually TASTE LIKE BEANS. This is the only Wavy variety in this year’s contest, and this pays off with the hearty flavor of the BBQ baked beans. Pay someone $20 on eBay to try these yourself before Canada votes to bring back “Maple Moose” and these chips disappear forever.
GUYS, THEY’RE BAKED BEANS Rating: 10 out of 10
Not Maple Moose Rating: 9 out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 out of 10