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Lay's test-crunches 3 fan-nominated chip flavors

By Joseph Pisani

AP Business Writer

LAST UPDATED: 10:30 a.m. HST, Feb 08, 2013

NEW YORK >> The next Lay's potato chip will taste like chicken and waffles. Or cheesy garlic bread. Or Sriracha hot sauce.

Lay's is letting potato chip lovers decide which one of the three will be its newest flavor. All of them will be sold at retailers nationwide starting next week. After trying them, fans have until May to vote for their favorites. The flavor with the most votes will stay on store shelves.

But if the other two flavors sell well, they may remain in stores, too, said Ann Mukherjee, chief marketing officer at Frito-Lay. "Who knows, we don't know what's going to happen." she said. "Our intent is to keep the one that people vote for."

It's the latest promotional stunt that tries to engage customers through social media and direct interaction, much as Hasbro's Monopoly did with its recent contest that ended with the addition of a cat game token and the demise of the iron.

Lay's Chicken & Waffles, Cheesy Garlic Bread and Sriracha were suggested by three people through the company's "Do Us a Flavor" campaign. A panel of chefs and flavor experts looked though about 3.8 million submissions and selected about 20 flavors to prototype. From there, the judges picked the three finalists. Mukherjee said that each dish was cooked in the test kitchen and compared with the flavored chip.

Fans will have three ways to vote for their favorites. They can do it though Lay's Facebook page, by texting "VOTE" to 24477 or through Twitter using the hashtags (hash)SaveChickenWaffles, (hash)SaveGarlicBread or (hash)SaveSriracha.

The person who submitted the winning flavor will win $1 million, or one percent of the chip's 2013 sales, whichever is more. The runners-up will win $50,000.

Although the new flavors are not supposed to hit stores until next Tuesday, some stores have started selling them. Fans have been posting images of the bags to social networks such as Instagram and Twitter. "We started shipping them," said Mukherjee. "I think some of our retailers got excited and put it out on the floor earlier."

Lay's adds about one new potato chip flavor every year, said Mukherjee. Last year it launched the Lay's Classic BLT, made to taste like the sandwich.

This is the first time in Lay's 75-year history that it has let U.S. consumers choose the company's next flavor. Lay's, which is a unit of PepsiCo Inc.'s Frito-Lay snack business, has held similar contests in other countries.

Frito-Lay first tried such a contest in the United Kingdom for its Walkers brand in 2008. Fans came up with Walkers Chilli & Chocolate and Walkers Cajun Squirrel. Builder's Breakfast, which tasted like a full bacon, sausage and eggs breakfast, won. But the flavor has since been discontinued.

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HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
I suggested pork adobo.
on February 8,2013 | 09:15AM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
While potato chip makers flaunt new items to add to the list of items people can over consume, the soda makers have to deal with a "tax" on their products. Seems unfair to me to charge a nickel per can while a small bag of chip is not "taxed" likewise. These two items by the way, go hand in hand. Often people eat and drink these two together. So what next? "Tax" bags of potato chips, too? This just glaringly shows why the "tax" on soda is not about preventing obesity but about money grabbing. It is just an excuse to tax us citizens more. How ironic that our country was founded on the fact that people left the British rules because of taxes. Now, we are even worse than the country we left when it comes to taxes. The Health Department that is driving this legislation should be audited. They claim that what they are receiving from the bottle fees is not enough. And now we will likely see an increase in the bottle fees. Well, how did they do it before the bottle fee came about?
on February 8,2013 | 09:18AM
nitpikker wrote:
whaaa?! the two items DO NOT go hand-in-hand!
on February 8,2013 | 09:33AM
psimmons wrote:
None of these 3 flavors appeal to me. Stick with the plain or salted potato chips and let the flavors be in the dips that sell separately. What was that old slogan? Oh yeah, "Bet you can't eat just one." I bet I can.
on February 8,2013 | 10:03AM
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