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Beer 'n Brats

Lay's new Beer 'n Brats chips are available at Copp's.

Hey! That was our idea!

Every summer, Lay’s Potato Chips has a “Do Us A Flavor” contest, where the company releases four limited-edition flavors suggested by customers and pegged to a certain region of the country. Last year, the flavors included New York Reuben and Greektown Gyros.

So, of course, it was natural to think of what new potato chip flavor would capture the spirit of Wisconsin. The answer my wife and I came up with was, of course, beer and brats.

I’m sure we were not the only ones. But imagine my surprise when, out of nowhere, Lay’s released a new Beers ‘n Brats flavor of chip this summer. Are the folks at Frito-Lay engaged in some sort of chip-based telepathic experiments?

The chips seem to only be available in certain markets, and exclusive to the Copp’s/Pic ‘n’ Save chain of stores. So, despite my grumbling about snack-food intellectual property theft, I had to seek them out.

They’re strange but pretty good. They really should be called Brats ‘n Beer, because it’s the flavor of brats that really stand out — the smoky, greasy taste of the meat, salt, onion and mustard, along with a strong cheddar cheese flavor.

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Yes, these are cheddar brats. I prefer my brats without cheese, personally, and think it’s just another flavor to throw onto a very large pile here. But maybe the folks at Lay’s figured it was required by law to have some sort of cheese flavor inside a Wisconsin-inspired snack.

The beer flavor doesn’t actually surface until you’re done chewing (the ingredients on the label include “natural extractives of beer,” so, yum?) as kind of a malty aftertaste. I’ll leave it to the beer snobs among us to ascertain exactly what kind of beer Lay’s was going for — maybe a New Glarus Totally Naked refreshing sort of beer. It’s not hoppy, anyway.

So overall, it’s a pretty good chip with an odd flavor that one adjusts to pretty fast. So I will hide my consternation that Lay’s swiped my idea for a Wisconsin-themed potato chip.

But if they steal my idea for a Supper Club Relish Tray potato chip, it’s war.

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Rob Thomas is the features editor and social media editor for the Capital Times, as well as its film critic. He joined the Cap Times in 1999 and has written about movies, music, food and books.