Product Review: Lay’s Chicken & Waffle Potato Chips
“Short of examining the entire history of each individual participating, short of anatomizing each soul, what hope has anyone of understanding a Situation?” —Thomas Pynchon, from the novel V.
So, what is the situation here? We have chicken. We have waffles. From what I’ve heard, the combination is wildly popular in the deep American South. Then we have a potato chip company, trying to fuse the two into a flat, crunchy, wafer-like substance.
We’ll start at the beginning—what do we know about chickens? They taste good, especially when cooked and slathered in any variety of sauces—teriyaki, barbecue, sweet & sour, the list goes on—but what business do they have canoodling with potato chips?
And the waffle—a doughy member of the cake family, commonly stamped with a gridded pattern of craters that house syrup, butter, and any other condiment desired by the diner.
Then comes Lay’s, a potato chip manufacturer with origins in the American state of Ohio. Of what interest is a soul food classic to a corporate giant? All signs point to something vile, sinister, and altogether dastardly that will probably in one way or another screw over immigrants or the lower class.
Prelude to the taste test: I properly cleansed my palate—three saltines, washed down with a glass of water. Room temperature, lingering between 69 and 70 degrees, Farenheit. Optimal for ingestion, and its successor, digestion. Comfortable seat. Napkins. Hands washed. Heart at resting rate. Other vital signs—appeared to be normal.
Presentation: The chips had a very light tannish-orange color to them. They didn’t differ in basic appearance from any other potato-based crisp product I have ever consumed. I briefly thought, in a flight of whimsy, that it would be pleasantly delightful if Lay’s had invested in the research and development necessary to produce a waffle-like grid pattern on each individual chip. Then my mind came back to earth, and I chuckled at the notion of how ridiculous that would be.
Initial impression: First chip, of an ovoid shape, equal in area to four quarters, American. There was a noticeable transfer of oil onto my fingers. The crunch, nothing special. If Lay’s thinks they’re gonna come into my house with a groovy new product, believing that I’m not hip to chip culture, and then drop a lackluster crack-a-lack on me, well, then, they’ve got another thing coming. I’m not saying it was a bad crunch. It could have been better. Yet, I couldn’t help but wonder, was this a sly allusion to the delicate, yet noticeable crust of an expertly-crafted waffle, or the first bite of a fried-chicken drumstick, where there is a palpable crunch, but not in an overpowering manner? If so, well-played. If not, then I give them a hearty “eh.”
Taste: I suppose I could have just said this at the beginning—the chips just taste like syrup.