With the holidays behind us and a new year ahead of us, we at PEOPLE have vowed to get our diets back on track.
Because today, gentle reader, we received a shipment of Lay’s newest, top secret potato chip flavors.
In previous years, the company asked the public to submit flavor ideas (Cappuccino? Wavy Mango Salsa? Who are you silly people?!), with the favorite winning $1 million. This time around, it seems Lay’s has already done the dirty work and dreamed up the new flavors themselves. It’s up to the consumer to decide which tater is tops.
Lay’s sent the chips in all-white bags, individually numbered 1 through 8. Because the bags were unmarked, it was up to us to guess what kind of chip we were eating. But here’s where it gets trickier: only four of the bags were new flavors; the other four already exist. The chips were literally stacked against us (see what I did there?).
And so, with our clothes already bursting at the seams, and our tastebuds ready to be tickled, we gave it a go. Because science.
“You know it’s cheddar because it’s orange,” said one taster of this Technicolor tuber, which was reminiscent of a “package of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.” The “tangy,” “signature dust” also signaled that this snack smacked of sour cream. Ah yes, we’ve seen you before…
Verdict: It’s an existing flavor — Cheddar & Sour Cream
“Ohh! That is a new flavor,” said one tester, though another thought it “was familiar, like a yogurt” (you’ll excuse me while I gag). Two tasters had bagels on the brain, comparing it to “a bagel with cream cheese” and “an everything bagel,” yet the majority thought there was a “meatiness” to it, like bacon.
Verdict: It’s a new flavor, and we’re guessing Spaghetti Carbonara
UPDATE: … or maybe not. Judging by this emoji riddle, part of the flavor’s name likely includes Smoked Gouda. But what is that other thing? A weed?
Sure it “smells like Play-Doh” and “looks like Sour Cream & Onion,” but — surprise! —it “tastes like black pepper.” Or does it? “It’s like Chinese takeout, like General Tso’s.” We’re not sure about that, but it definitely had bite: “It’s a kettle chip!” declared one proud taster.
Verdict: It’s an existing flavor – Kettle Cooked Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper
“I don’t like that at all!” remarked one tester of this “disgusting” creation, which had a taste that we couldn’t quite put our finger on yet were sure we’d experienced before. Was it ranch? Rosemary? “It tastes like a Ramen Noodles packet!” Bingo! And like that, we were 12 years old again.
Verdict: It’s new, and we’re guessing Ramen. Or Ramen Seasoning Packet, more specifically
UPDATE: Looking at this maddening emoji riddle, we now suspect this might be Olive Oil & Rosemary.
We laughed at the one poor soul who said, “It tastes like a pulled pork sandwich.” After all, wasn’t the orange color a dead giveaway? “This is Honey Barbeque,” the rest of us immediately decided upon first sight. We also decided we can no longer be friends with the pulled pork person.
Verdict: Weren’t you reading the above caption? It’s Honey Barbeque!
Oh, sweet people of Lay’s, please do us a flavor and kill this chip, which most of us thought tasted “overly charred,” like a “burnt steak.” One person detected notes of “fajita,” while another described it as “pungent, like a hangover sandwich — something you make when you only have hot sauce and cereal in the house.” Yum!
Verdict: It’s a new flavor – we’re going with Burnt Ends. And that’s being polite
FLAVOR 7 (OUR FAVORITE)
“This hurts!” said one taster of the powdery-red, “very spicy” chip, which we think might be the “very trendy” “ghost pepper” or perhaps it has an India influence (“tandoori chicken” and “chicken tikka masala” were mentioned). Either way, “I want bags of this!” said one tester.
Verdict: Good news, Mr. Greedy, you can: It’s an existing flavor – Flamin’ Hot
We were all over the place with this baby, which “tasted like fish sauce” yet also had the burn and “nasal spice” (a lesser-known Spice Girl, but my favorite) of either “horseradish,” “wasabi” or “habanero.” “Are you getting banh mi? I’m getting banh mi,” asked one fancy foodie. We honestly don’t know, but we’re going in a completely different direction…
Verdict: It’s a new flavor – Kimchi
UPDATE: Just kidding! After staying up half the night trying to deciper the company’s emoji riddle — and waking up screaming — we’re going back to one of our original hunches: habanero. Fiery Habanero, to be exact!
So how did we do? Lay’s isn’t telling until the end of the month, when they will officially reveal the names of their new flavors. In the meantime, they’re dropping clues on their official Twitter page in the form of emoji riddles, which, frankly, are even more confusing and look like something your parents would send you in a text.
— Mark Marino, @mamarino