Friday, March 4, 2016

Lay's Flavor Swap: Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper vs. Olive Oil & Herbs

I was in my local Wal-Mart when I saw these two flavors with the whole Flavor Swap thing on them.  I neglected to look at the back to see that there's actually not just two, but 8 flavors paired off and going head to head.  Since finding out about the other 6 flavors, I've made it my civic duty to be a consumer whore and get all of them so I can arrive at a verdict in each case.

In this case, both flavors are of the Kettle Cooked variety, which in the past has been home to such other amazing flavors as Wasabi Ginger, which was my personal favorite of and the winner of the 2014 Do Us A Flavor contest.

My palate cleanser is a 20 oz bottle of Mountain Dew.  Probably not the best palate cleanser in the world, but hey, its flavor is easy to distinguish from anything else, and that's all that really matters, right?

Olive Oil & Herbs

The flavor of olive oil is blended in quite well.  I can't pick out any distinct herbs, but there's definitely an herby flavor as well.  It works well with the potato chip as a base.  Also present is a distinct saltiness.  Inspecting the nutrition information of both flavors reveals that this one has a mere 40mg more sodium per serving than the one with salt in the name, which puzzles me. Thankfully, it's not too overwhelming, and the chips as a whole retain high snackability.

Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper

While black pepper is perhaps the most underrated spice, I find sea salt to be incredibly overhyped.  It's just salt.  Same as any other salt that you can buy from the store and put on your food.  It's all just sodium chloride.

That said, the salt is rather subtle, thankfully, which allows the flavor of the black pepper to shine through.  I was worried about the salt before tasting them, because potato chips tend to be heavily salted as-is and the flavor here specifically involves salt, but the lack of salt overwhelming the potato and black pepper flavors is quite refreshing in a market that refuses to reduce the salt content of its product or offer unsalted alternatives.  I went in expecting an oversalted mess and was actually quite pleasantly surprised when I didn't get it.

As far as snackability is concerned, these chips are slightly harder than the Olive Oil & Herbs variety, which I noticed immediately upon eating the first chip.  More effort required to chew means less snackability.  The black pepper flavor compensates for this somewhat, giving it a good snackability overall.

The Verdict

While I love the taste of black pepper, I think my vote is going to have to go with the Olive Oil & Herbs flavor.  The flavors of the olive oil, the herbs, and the potato chip itself just blend together much more readily.  Both are really good, though, so get your hands on a bag or two of each before this thing ends.

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