Turn Up the Flavor

Lay's new music-inspired potato chip flavors, including a lime and sea salt paired with pop and a beer cheese paired with rock music, are available for a limited time only.

New limited-edition flavors of Lay’s Potato Chips are music to our ears. Literally, in this case.

I’ve gotten accustomed to new flavors of Lay’s hitting shelves in the summertime as part of the “Do Us a Flavor” annual contest, where customers suggest possible flavor ideas like Tikka Masala or Giordano’s Deep Dish Pizza. Fans then vote on whether the new ideas should be put in the permanent chip rotation.

So I was caught off guard on a recent trip to Colorado when I saw three new Lay’s flavors on the shelves — Electric Lime and Sea Salt, Flamin’ Hot Dill Pickle Remix, and Classic Beer Cheese. They should be on shelves nationwide for a limited time only.

The hook this time is that the promotion is “Turn Up The Flavor,” with each flavor corresponding to a different genre of popular music. Scan the QR code on the back of the bag and you can hear a remixed version of a new song by Bebe Rexha designed to match the flavor.

“Flavor and music can trigger such powerful emotions,” Rexha says in the commercial. Note that she doesn’t mention whether those emotions are positive or negative.

I’ll leave others to judge the powerful emotions triggered by Rexha, but let’s dig into the chips. The Electric Lime and Sea Salt chips are wavy, ridged chips, and these aren’t with just a hint of lime like the equivalent version of Tostitos.

These chips taste like they’ve been marinating in Sprite overnight. They have a suffocating sweetness to them that overwhelms any sea salt flavor that might be there.

Fittingly, perhaps, these are the “pop music” flavor of “Turn Up the Flavor,” giving a new meaning to “sugary” pop music.

Flamin’ Hot Dill Pickle Remix is the “hip hop” flavor, because the chip is intended to be a mashup of spicy heat and the sourness of pickles. I am Canadian and as such, pickle chips are a part of my heritage. I was curious to see how a spiced-up version might fly.

Pretty well, as it turns out. The heat of the spice is considerable, with the tanginess of the pickle flavor coming in like a guest vocal midway through. These are not chips that you’d absent-mindedly eat a whole bag of, and the strong, distinct flavors might turn off some snackers. But these were easily my favorite of the bunch, in small quantities.

Finally, there’s the good ol’ fashioned rock ‘n ‘ roll of Beer Cheese, presented as a kettle chip. At first, it tastes pretty much like any other cheesy chip.

But then that beer flavor (perhaps an import from the Beer & Brats chips that Lay’s released in the Midwest) kicks in underneath, like a satisfying rhythm section. The result is a very accessible, easy to eat chip, one that pairs best with something else, like a burger or a bratwurst.

Just as sometimes you want to play different kinds of music depending on the circumstances, you might want to bust out a different “Turn Up the Flavor” bag depending on your snacking needs at the moment. But as a transplanted Wisconsinite, I am a little bummed that the Beer Cheese wasn’t given a more accurate pairing, as the “polka” flavor. 

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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.