Lay's Do Us a Flavor 2017

Lay's has three new limited-edition potato chip flavors in stores. 

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In the midst of the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey, it was one rare spot of humor. Somebody posted a photo on Reddit they claimed was from a grocery store in the Houston area in the days before the hurricane struck.

The shelves were largely bare, stripped by locals stocking up to prepare for the storm. Except for a shelf that was still stuffed with bags and bags of Lay’s Chicken and Waffles potato chips. Even in trying times, there are some lines that people won’t cross, I guess.

Actually, I think Chicken and Waffles is one of the best of Lay’s limited-edition “Do Us a Flavor” flavors in recent years. Each summer, Lay’s has a contest where it releases a few nutty new flavors and has its customers vote on their favorites at dousaflavor.com. The winners will get turned into regular Lay’s flavors, where they get the chance to sit shunned and unloved on store shelves in the middle of a hurricane.

Sometimes the flavors are great — wasabi! Sometimes they are ill-advised — cappuccino, really? This year’s entries fall somewhere in between.

First off is Fried Green Tomatoes flavor, suggested by Charlotte resident Greg Pope, who said he ate the deep-fried treat when he was a kid growing up in Georgia. The wavy chip has a mild tomato flavor, but the focus is more on the spices, especially the pepper and paprika. It’s fine, but I wish they could have somehow worked in the homespun wisdom of Jessica Tandy into the flavor mix.

Next is the Everything Bagel with Cream Cheese flavor, suggested by Lindsay Hoffman of Palm City, Florida. She likes bagels. This one has a strong onion and garlic flavor, obviously, but what’s most impressive is that you also taste the cream cheese in there thanks to milk, cream and cheese among the ingredients. Just don’t expect to kiss anybody for a couple of hours after eating.

Finally, there’s the Crispy Taco flavored, suggested by Ellen Sorem of San Antonio. “My fiancé loves crunchy beef tacos,” Sorem wrote. “I actually made it for one of our first dates, and after three years, I can finally say I’ve mastered cooking his favorite dish.”

Ellen. I can make crunchy beef tacos and it didn’t take three years to perfect the recipe. In any event, that time was definitely wasted, as the chip perfectly captures the flavors of the homemade taco — that little spice packet you mix in with the ground beef, the shredded cheese, even the particular crunch of the store-bought corn taco shell.

The Crispy Taco flavor comes the closest to the taste of its inspiration, but taco-flavored Doritos and other brands have been around forever. It’s not that much of a novelty. For that, I’d go for the Fried Green Tomatoes. As Tandy says in the movie, “I’ve discovered the secret to life. Novelty-flavored potato chips.”

Actually, she says, “Friends, best friends.” But chips are nice, too.