Apparently, Frito-Lay is out of ideas. I mean, once you’ve gone Loaded Baked Potato Flavor, there’s really nowhere to go, right? So, the potato chip maker has done what all great/lazy minds do: Turned to crowdsourcing. In July, they launched the Lay’s Do Us A Flavor contest, a Facebook app that has turned at least 1.1 million Americans into armchair culinary revolutionaries. It’s also revealed what we look for in our snacks–chiefly, meat and cheese.
The contest, which is open to only US residents, lets Facebook users submit and rate potential new chip flavors. It is very popular. Not a day goes by that I don’t see someone I know coming up with or voting on an idea as part of the Lay’s Do Us A Flavor contest, which promises $1 million for the person who comes up with the idea that Frit0-Lay decides to turn into an actual product. And not a day goes by that I don’t groan at the how gross the idea sounds.
Which isn’t to say that I can’t get down with some potato chips every now and then. I am, after all, an American. And some of the suggestions I’ve seen actually sound pretty great. Artisan-inspired ideas like apple and goat’s cheese, for example, seem like they could be interesting and yummy. But, it seems, my taste is not the same as that of most of those who are playing along at home.
Of the top three most popular chip flavors that have been suggested–that is, the three that the most people have said they’d eat–two include cheese (Jalapeño Cheddar and Grilled Cheese), and one is fried (Beer-Battered Onion Rings). Further down the list, popular flavors include Chicken Bacon Ranch, Philly Cheesesteak, Southern Fried Chicken, and Meatballs.
Meatballs. Meatballs-flavored potato chips.
Apparently, Americans love meat and cheese–and they’ve love it if their potato chip flavors reflected that love.
I have a sneaking suspicion that Frito-Lay will probably pick one of the more mild flavors (there’s a Parmesan and Garlic flavor that’s pretty popular and seems like it might actually have a good chance of being successful based on something more than just novelty), and leave picks like Macaroni and Cheese and Maple Pancakes with Bacon for another day. Which brings up the problem/sneakiness of crowdsourcing–that it gets consumers to give companies ideas for free, which the companies can learn from and bank to better sell stuff to the aforementioned consumers.
But even if they do decide to opt for Hamburger-flavored chips (another popular one), both Frito-Lay and other savvy companies who may be watching the contest have learned a valuable lesson: Make something taste like meat or cheese, and Americans will eat it.
Image via Lay’s Do Us A Flavor contest.