All this month we've been looking at treats that offer huge varieties. These varieties are all about taking the original treat, often a classic, and changing it slightly, or dramatically, to create something similar but with a twist. So far we've covered, M&Ms, Kit Kat, Pocky, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, for our last installment we're going a little bit out of the box, in fact we're heading into a bag, a bag of Lay's Chips.
This installment might be a bit of a cheat, for two reasons. First of all many people get on my case for reviewing chips on a site called Candy Critic, I have no honest justification for this, but I won't change it either. Secondly, almost all of the varieties of Lay's chips has something to do with geography. Almost all of these chips are flavoured with common spices and flavours found in the countries where they are sold. There is one exception to this rule, and that's Canada (my home and native land). This is because of a strange history that Canada has with potato chip flavours.
Canadians are very proud of the fact that we're crazy about crazy flavours of chips. Most countries, as I said above, are tolerant of flavours, but only if they're based on common savory foods that they enjoy. Canada on the other hand makes chip flavours for just about anything, and it doesn't even have to be savory. While a few of these flavours do disappear and are only really gimmicks, several "strange" flavours have stuck around, and one in particular, Dill Pickle, remains a classic popular flavour in Canada today.
This might be why I appreciate tasting local chip flavours whenever I'm traveling. From Spanish "Sabor Jamon Presunto", to Asia Nori Seaweed, to Pakistani street food, there are so many local flavours that can be found spicing potato chips. Lay's is probably the largest maker of potato chips in the world, and I've seen their logo in just about every country I've ever visited. While they always have a simple salt variety, there's inevitably a few other flavours worth trying as well.
I've tried 14 different flavour of Lay's potato chips, and the diversity is pretty amazing. The strangest flavour would have to be Cinnamon Bun, out of Canada. Some flavours however are common in many countries. Cheese, Onion, and Vinegar are very common flavours used in chips. In just about every place I've visited there is one variety that will contain at least one of these three ingredients. One of the other interesting features of chip varieties is the heat, or spiciness of the chips. As you might imagine, in many Asian countries like India or Pakistan, the flavours are often very spicy, while in places like Greece or France it's more about subtle herbs.
The variety of Lay's chips available around the world are a great example of cuisines from around the world. While being a simple snack, chips reflect a culture a lot more than most people would think about. This is likely because the potato gives you a blank canvas where you can add just about any flavour you'd like. They can even be really strange flavours, like I find at home.