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Product Review: Lay’s Southern Biscuits & Gravy

As you’re probably aware of, Lay’s held a contest marketing campaign beginning in 2013 titled “Do Us a Flavor”, asking folks to submit ideas for an interesting, unique, and most importantly, marketable potato chip flavor. The winner of each earning a cool $1 Million bucks. Breaking it down to the three (subsequently 4) finalists, Lay’s produced their submitted flavors for the public to try and vote as their favorite, including the following in the US market:

  • 2013: Sriracha, Chicken and Waffles, and Cheesy Garlic Bread (winner)
  • 2014: Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese, Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger (winner), Wavy Mango Salsa, and Cappuccino
  • 2015: Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro, New York Reuben, Southern Biscuits & Gravy (winner), and Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries

According to Wikipedia (yes, I dig deep for research), “2016 ‘Do Us a Flavor’ was rebranded ‘Passport to Flavor’ for the 2016 Summer Olympics. The four finalists are Chinese Szechuan Chicken, Greek Tzatziki, Brazilian Picanha, and Indian Tikka Masala.” And there are many more interesting potato chip flavors Lay’s produced for other global markets. Not to mention, Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” promotional campaign is still active today!

Above is my “FURIKAKE POPCORN” flavor submission to Lay’s current “Do Us a Flavor” contest. My pitch line goes like this: “This flavor is inspired by a popular movie theater hybrid snack folks in Hawaii love nicknamed “Hurricane Popcorn” (that name is actually trademarked). It’s a combination of movie theater buttered popcorn, mixed with shoyu-flavored Japanese rice crackers called Arare (“Mochi Crunch”) and Furikake, a Japanese seasoning made primarily of Nori (dried seaweed) flakes. That combination is absolutely delicious (ono)!” 

If you think Lay’s FURIKAKE POPCORN Potato Chips sounds like a great flavor idea, click on this link, then click on the “I’D EAT THAT” button, onegaishimasu!

Back to the flavor at hand, upon a visit to Safeway yesterday (Kapahulu location), there it was, an endcap filled with Lay’s Potato Chips varieties on sale at $2.50 each, with the Southern Biscuits & Gravy flavor occupying an entire shelf row. When I seen that, I was like, “OK, enough is enough already. After all this time avoiding them, this time I SO have to try this one!” OMG, I LOVE Biscuits & Gravy! If this is the 2015 winning flavor (as emblazoned on the front label), while no less on a potato chip? Dude, let’s do this!

Not surprisingly, there’s a bunch of YouTube video reviews (as usual, with its share of whack jobs) of Lay’s Southern Biscuits and Gravy Potato Chip. Here’s a few…

So those were two contrasting reviews, while there’s several other YouTubers who gave Lay’s Southern Biscuits & Gravy Potato Chips either a major thumbs up for authenticity to its name, or overall thumbs down.

Again, like I said, I LOVE Biscuits & Gravy, where the best one I’ve had was from the NFL Sunday Breakfast Menu at The Shack Hawaii Kai. At least, this was back when when Brendan was running the joint (and I was their webmaster). Not sure about now. Which the real deal as shown above is roux-thick ‘n creamy rich, with generous loose bits ‘n pieces of Jimmy Dean style Breakfast Sausage, simply ladled over fresh-baked oven biscuits. Simple stick-to-your-ribs country-style comfort food goodness at its best!

Most noteworthy in how that might translate to these potato chips are the key herbs in that “Jimmy Dean style” breakfast sausage based white gravy, which would be at least to some effect: sage, thyme, nutmeg, red pepper and black pepper.

Before continuing, we must give “props” to the one who suggested this #1 voted most popular flavor, Hailey Green, who won the $1 million grand prize from Lay’s for it. According to Hailey, as a travel agent, she say’s she plans on spending her million dollar prize money taking trips she otherwise couldn’t, as well as doing something special for her “Nonnie” and Grandpa, whose southern roots inspired her with this Biscuits & Gravy “Do Us a Flavor” 2015 winning entry.

OK, enough jibber jabber, let’s hit it, first with the “smell inside the bag right after opening it” factor….

Upon the initial whiff, hmm… a couple of YouTubers said it smelled like genuine Biscuits & Gravy, where one dude said he could actually smell something like baked biscuits out of it, however I didn’t get that. All it smells like to me, both in the bag and out, are slightly seasoned potato chips, no more no less. And I have very good olfactory senses.

Inspecting it closely, you can see specks of seasoning lightly sprinkled on each chip. Also notice they’re Lay’s traditional thin-cut potato chips, not the thicker ruffled style that they used with some of the other “Do Us a Flavor” varieties sent to market. Personally I would have preferred the latter, however I suppose they opted for the thin-cut style so the chips would  come across as tasting more like flour-based oven-baked biscuit “wafers”, not fried potatoes.

OK, let’s taste it…

And? Not surprisingly, it tastes pretty much how it smells: like lightly seasoned potato chips. I kind of get that Jimmy Dean style breakfast sausage seasoning flavor profile of thyme and sage, however it’s ever so subtle. I definitely didn’t get anything tasting like oven-baked biscuits out of it, nor did I get anything roux creamy and rich about it.

What’s funny to say, is I was a little disappointed it still tastes like potato chips, as I was hoping as some other YouTubers claim, that it tasted to them more like “flat biscuits”.

I think they should put more of that “stuff” (whatever it is) they use to put the “sour cream” taste in sour cream and onion style potato chips on this one to give it more of a creamy flavor to resemble the rich gravy of what it’s trying to be.  Back to the breakfast sausage flavor, I definitely didn’t get anything “meaty” (savory) about its flavor, as one YouTubers claims he got.

To be fair, I got a second and third opinion from two other folks, and without showing them the package, they both didn’t know what it was supposed to taste like. All they said was, “It’s good! What is it?” When I showed them the bag label, they were like, “No I definitely didn’t get Biscuits & Gravy. But it’s good!”

All that said, don’t get me wrong, this is a damned delicious potato chip, and (providing it’s on sale) I’d definitely buy it again for its unique “country style” seasoning, which I think would be a more accurate name for this.

However, having a photo of real Southern Biscuits & Gravy on the package really elevates your hopes, only to let you down when you actually taste it, being that’s what you’re expecting. However, if it just simply said “Southern Style Seasoning”, then yeah, you’d totally be down with it. And I’m down with it! I really like it! Enough to give it a favorable 3 SPAM Musubi, regardless of the fact I just don’t think it tastes like actual Southern Biscuits & Gravy.

What? Lay’s Southern Biscuits & Gravy Potato Chips
Where did you buy it and how much was it? Safeway Kapahulu, $2.50/7¾ oz. package
Big Shaka to: Excellent flavor, being lightly seasoned with herbs that “kind of” resemble Jimmy Dean style breakfast sausage; chips are crispy-crunchy fresh; winning 1 million dollars for suggesting a potato chip flavor
No Shaka to: Hardly if at all resembles the real deal genuine Southern Biscuits & Gravy (misleading IMO); where’s the meat?; thin-cut potato chips (I prefer thick-cut “Kettle” style or ruffled)
The Tasty Island rating:
3 SPAM Musubi

Very Good. Considerable of another visit or purchase. (Supah’ Ono!)

The Tasty Island related links:
Hawaiian Luau Barbecue Rings (Yick Lung’s Nibb-Its knock-off!)
Hilo’s Atebara Potato Chips
Kitch’n Cook’d Maui Potato Chips
Classic Hawaii Snack Chips

5 thoughts on “Product Review: Lay’s Southern Biscuits & Gravy

  • January 19, 2017 at 12:29 pm
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    Update: I’ve been snackin’ on some of these Lay’s Southern Biscuits & Gravy Potato Chips for the second day now (there’s still lots left in the bag), and you know what? This time around I’m getting a little more of that true Biscuits & Gravy flavor. More actually of the biscuit part of the equation, in that I can now detect a very subtle “baked bread” flavor.

    I’m not sure why that is. Perhaps my mood? The slightly warmer climate today, and how it affects my palate? My health is the same (excellent), so it can’t be that. Nor can it be which specific chips I chose, as in the initial review, I had “shuffled” the bag before choosing my chips for tasting. That said, It’s still not really shouting out Biscuits & Gravy, but I do “get it” more this time around.

    My rating still stands at 3 SPAM Musubi, and I’m sticking by my initial review in the post, as first impressions matter most! I just thought it was interesting and worth sharing how my palate’s sensitivity changed slightly over the course of just a day.

    Reply
    • January 22, 2017 at 11:02 am
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      I didn’t try these, but I’ve tried the cheesy garlic bread chips and they are delicious. Tastes exactly like a potato chip on top of some cheesy garlic bread. I’ve had the greek tzatzki and ginger wasabi, also really good and if someone blindfolded me and asked me what I was tasting I’d probably be able to accurately guess the flavor. For the record, I absolutely loathe flavored chips, there’s something strange and chalky about them and they are usually too pungent. But I didn’t have those problems with these.

      Reply
      • January 22, 2017 at 3:00 pm
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        h,

        A couple of them YouTubers mentioned how good and accurate the Cheesy Garlic Bread Potato Chips were. Shucks, I wish I had tried it when it was available. Ditto for the Greek Tzatzki and Ginger Wasabi, the latter of which won for that year.

        I know what you mean about flavored potato chips coming across as “chalky”, especially if it has to resemble something that’s cream-based like Sour Cream and Onion, as well as these Biscuits & Gravy flavor. That said, I’d have to agree, there is a slight “chalky” factor (coating) to these as well, but not quite as much as the typical Sour Cream & Onion Potato Chips. Or even BBQ Potato Chips, for that matter.

        For the flavor I submitted being Lay’s Furikake Popcorn Potato Chipa, that could avoid that chalky  note, as all they’d need to do is use REAL Furikake flakes on it, as does several local potato chip companies here in Hawaii. The buttered popcorn and soy sauce-based rice cracker part of the equation shouldn’t taste chalky at all, if they pull it off correctly. I’d think they could get that flavor imparted in the oil used to fry them, vs. a coating on the chip, similar to flavored microwave popcorn.

        “Chalky” factor notwithstanding, being you’re Jewish, how about Lay’s Sour Cream & Apple Sauce Latkes Potato Chips? For that one, they’d have to use the wavy style chip to sort of resemble grated potatoes used to make Latkes. Something like that. Hah? How you figgah? Sounds interesting to me!

        Reply
        • January 23, 2017 at 4:18 am
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          I fall somewhere in between “I’d try them out of curiosity” and “meh, I’ll pass” The ideal chip to carry the flavor would be a “dark russet” chip. Kinda tastes a little burned.

          Reply
  • August 8, 2017 at 4:25 pm
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    So the top three finalists’ entries have been produced. Taco (regular), Everything Bagel (kettle), and Fried Green Tomato (wavy). Check your stores for them. I tried the Everything Bagel, and it wasn’t bad. While it’s subtle, you can taste the cream cheese flavor as opposed to the sour cream flavor that’s used in many flavors. I’d buy them again, but they’re nowhere near as good as the Wasabi Ginger ones!!!! I also tried the fried green tomato flavor. It was interesting. The flavors are kind of layered so you get the fried green tomato part just before the hit of the spicy sauce that usually accompanies FGT in the south. I’d prefer to just have a plate of fried green tomatoes, but still, not bad. I don’t plan on trying the taco flavor. I’ve read that it’s pretty authentic (one review said that you could even taste the shredded lettuce, which would be interesting. I suppose it’s the same lettuce flavor they use on their BLT flavored chips – which I also haven’t/won’t try), in which case it will probably taste meaty, and probably have some beef extract, so that’s a no for me.

    I hope you find the chips near you, I’m interested in what you think of them.

    Reply

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