[4-Pack Review] Lay’s “Passport to Flavor” Chips

With all the crazy fees airlines are charging these days, I’m always looking for ways to save on travel. This isn’t a travel blog, but I’d like to share just a few of my tips with you guys. #1: Fill your carry-on with snacks for the ride. Seriously, nothing but snacks. You can buy new clothes when you land. #2: Purchase a Cinnabon only at the destination airport, and not the departure airport too. #3: Use your carry-on liquid allowance for cheese sauce, since they never seem to include it with those complimentary pretzels for some reason.

As simple as those tips are, Lay’s is now making traveling the world even easier. For a limited time, they’re rolling out four new varieties of potato chips influenced by well-known international flavors: Indian Tikka Masala, Brazilian Picanha, Greek Tzatziki, and Chinese Szechuan Chicken. I was a little disappointed that American Whopperito didn’t make the cut, but maybe next time.

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All four of these flavors are available in smaller 2.75 oz. bags and larger 7.75 oz. bags. I’ve seen the smaller bags at Walgreens and the larger bags at Target and local grocery stores. I decided to buy the smaller bags, because if I’m going to sample four bags of chips with flavors from around the world, I don’t want to end up looking like a planet.

Indian Tikka Masala (Kettle Cooked)

I love Indian food, but I always have a hard time describing it. That’s because I usually go to Indian buffets and fill my plate without ever looking at the food labels. According to the internet, tikka masala sauce usually includes tomatoes, cream, coconut cream, and spices such as turmeric and cumin. Opening the bag, these Indian Tikka Masala chips definitely smell like those spices, and that’s the headline taste here, too. The distinct spice mix gives way to a great combination of tomato, garlic, and onion. There’s a sweet, creamy flavor lingering in the background, likely from the brown sugar and sour cream listed in the ingredients.

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My only complaint with these chips is that the garlic taste builds as you eat them and really hangs on through the aftertaste. Otherwise, I thought these were a pretty good recreation of the dish. I really enjoyed the Kettle Cooked texture, too. If you want the Indian buffet taste without the Indian buffet food coma, you could do a lot worse than these chips.

Brazilian Picanha

One of the greatest innovations of the United States of America is, of course, the all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse. These Brazilian Picanha chips are inspired by cuts of grilled Brazilian steak and chimichurri sauce, which usually consists of oil, parsley, garlic, and oregano.

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I was honestly caught off guard at how strongly these chips tasted like grilled meat. Examining the ingredients, it looks like that grilled meat flavor comes from beef fat–yum! Once the meat flavor fades a bit, I tasted some oregano and garlic, as well as a slightly peppery kick. A somewhat unpleasant garlicky, meaty aftertaste just sat in my mouth after I had eaten a few chips, and I didn’t even have the satisfaction of eating a full steak to show for it. Lay’s did a good job capturing the different flavors here, but I don’t think I’d buy these again.

Greek Tzatziki (Wavy)

Tzatziki sauce isn’t a particularly complicated dish–it’s just yogurt mixed with cucumbers, oil, garlic, and sometimes dill–so Greek Tzatziki seems to be the safest of Lay’s global flavors. In fact, considering that they already make similar flavors (Sour Cream & Onion and Cream Cheese & Chive, for example), this one shouldn’t be too difficult, right?

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These chips start with a huge burst of dill flavor, followed by a notable creaminess. There’s actually some cucumber flavor, too, provided by the “natural cucumber flavor” listed in the ingredients. Unfortunately, I didn’t taste much of the other spices listed, so these chips lose some points for their lack of complexity. Still, I think they do “tzatziki” justice–Tzatziki Justice is a great band name, by the way–and the wavy texture is a fun change from normal potato chips.

Chinese Szechuan Chicken

If there’s one thing I love more than Indian buffets, it’s Chinese buffets. Szechuan cuisine is known for its spicy kick, and gets its name from the Sichuan pepper. It’s already a complex flavor as-is, but Lay’s decided to make this a Szechuan Chicken flavored chip, so I was excited to see how they’d do with this one.

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Ugh…they didn’t do very well. The first couple of bites taste like a mouthful of soy sauce, followed by a weird combination of sugar, garlic, and onion. There’s very little spice factor at all, even though the ingredients list both roasted Szechuan pepper and red bell pepper. The aftertaste is equally bad. What’s odd is that I was able to pinpoint a few different aspects of Szechuan flavor throughout these chips, but they were pretty unpleasant when put together. I honestly couldn’t eat more than a handful.

I think Lay’s did a decent job with its Passport to Flavor chips, with the exception of Chinese Szechuan Chicken. They’re worth a try during their limited time run, if you’re curious, but I don’t think any of them are repeat buys. If this is what the Passport to Flavor has to offer, I’d rather just stay at home.

Item: Lay’s Passport to Flavor Chips
Price and Place of Purchase: $1.49 each at Walgreens (2.75 oz size)
Nutrition Facts (serving size-1 oz): Indian Tikka Masala: 150 calories, 80 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 150 milligrams of sodium, 350 milligrams of potassium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 1 gram of sugar, 2 grams of protein.

Brazilian Picanha: 160 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 140 milligrams of sodium, 330 milligrams of potassium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, 2 grams of protein.

Greek Tzatziki: 150 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 140 milligrams of sodium, 340 milligrams of potassium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 1 gram of sugar, 2 grams of protein.

Chinese Szechuan Chicken: 150 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 140 milligrams of sodium, 330 milligrams of potassium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 2 gram of dietary fiber, 1 gram of sugar, 2 grams of protein.

In a Nutshell: Most flavors (Indian Tikka Masala, Brazilian Picanha, Greek Tzatziki) do a fine job of capturing their namesake dish. Chinese Szechuan Chicken is pretty bad. Starting a new band called Tzatziki Justice.
Overall Score: Indian Tikka Masala: 7 out of 10

Brazilian Picanha: 6.5 out of 10

Greek Tzatziki: 7 out of 10

Chinese Szechuan Chicken: 4 out of 10

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