Before You Throw Away Those Cappuccino Potato Chips…

Lay's Cappuccino Potato Chips!

The mandatory “sinister side” pic from their upcoming episode of the Oxygen true-food-crime series Snacked.

A few weeks ago we culinary daredevils here at Midlife Crisis Crossover ignored societal customs and tried two of the new flavors of Lay’s Potato Chips that they designed at the suggestion of folks outside the food industry who may have come up with their ideas by pointing to random words in a cookbook.

One contender in particular, their Cappuccino Potato Chips, seems to be the most taboo-breaking of these next-wave snacks. In a recent Yahoo! article, New York Times coffee authority Oliver Strand was called in from whatever he was doing at the time that had to be more important than this, and was asked to test these chips for coffee authenticity. His conclusion is unsurprising yet apt (“The chips smell like the coffee candy your grandmother kept in a glass bowl in the living room”), but he also delves into the background of the company that provided Frito-Lay with the food-science technology necessary to pull off this modern anomaly. It’s a short, recommended reading that foreshadows other unprecedented, amalgamated endeavors in the future, except maybe those will be popular and people won’t scrunch up their noses at them.

I get the impression the Cappuccino Chips may not be flying off store shelves and will soon be relegated to Dollar General clearance bins within the next six to twelve months. My wife and I have been slowly working our way through the bag we bought, a chore prolonged by my reading comprehension failure that caused me to buy a party-sized bag. Why that size exists, I’ve no idea. Maybe they satisfy a fine-print contractual obligation. Good luck finding a crowd of twenty to one hundred friends and relatives who’d love you enough to unite and eat the entire bag for you in a single month, let alone in one party.

I don’t loathe them, but as Strand points out, they lack the enchanting loyalty that a classic potato chip commands. Anyone who’s ever tried to eat a single Pringle knows those sensations — the surprise hunger pang that wasn’t there a few minutes ago, and the sudden, insatiable craving that demands you eat at least another pound of them before you reseal the container. Unlike Pringles or actual caffeinated products, the cappuccino chips have an addiction factor near zero. They’re okay, but they’re becoming a chore for us to finish.

After a few other food-synthesis experiments that proved unappealing, this past Tuesday night I stumbled across one use for them that truly, sincerely clicked. I like to think every foodstuff exists for a reason, and I believe I’ve discovered the Cappuccino Chip’s true calling. And hopefully this doesn’t lead us into a darker future fraught with French-fry lattes or hazelnut casserole or mocha tots.

Chips 'n' Cream!

Behold — Lay’s Cappuccino Potato Chips: the ice cream topping.

For my initial trial, I used Blue Bunny’s Cuatro Leches ice cream. For the photo I had to substitute Edy’s Caramel Delight because another anonymous household member ate the last two scoops of Cuatro Leches before I could snap a pic. It’s similar in color and intent, but Cuatro Leches has the overall advantage.

Consider, though: the chips are so thin and the coating is so sweet that the potato base is barely detectable. They’re salty, but not overbearingly so. Mixed with the caramel elements in either ice cream flavor, the chips add salt, weight, and the crunchy texture I crave in any winning, non-liquid ice cream topping. Y’know those salt-‘n’-caramel concoctions that have become a Thing over the last few years? That’s what happened here. It reminds me of the Fried Ice Cream dishes they used to serve at Mexican chain restaurants when I was a kid. And as many a Chopped judge will tell you, any dessert that takes you back to childhood is an A-plus dessert.

Keep in mind, I can vouch only for this combination with these two ice cream flavors. I’ve not yet tried any chocolate-based flavors, and fruit-flavored ice cream is not my thing. If you can make it work with Butter Pecan, Rocky Road, Cookie Dough, or one of those pricey Ben & Jerry’s travel-sized gourmet cups, by all means, we’d be curious to know how that goes for you.

During this whole process I had one thought in mind: that bag was four bucks’ worth of snacks. Someone was gonna eat all that. Thanks to ice cream, that modest demand may now become a reality without resorting to trickery or guilt-tripping.

(Full disclosure: if you visit the Yahoo! article and wade into the 200+ comments, you may recognize a reader discussing this same discovery. The short answer is, they’re with me.)


9 responses

  1. Ok, so M was acting bratty on the phone yesterday, then had the gall to ask me to buy him some chips.

    So I got these instead of his usual Salt & Vinegar. And darn if he didn’t LOVE them. Oh well.


  2. I’ve worked for frito lay for 8 years, have been through hundreds of new product launches.

    This cappuccino lay is the biggest disaster I’ve ever witnessed here at frito. This week is a significant stale date for frito, October 21st, because we’ll be pulling the last of the available cappuccino lays off the shelf. I’ve evaluated, and i probably have about $400 in cappuccino out of dates that will be pulled on Tuesday. And, this is roughly every route in my zone, which is approximately 180 routes. I can’t imagine what it’s like across the rest of the US. There were supposed to be 3 waves of these new flavors, cappuccino, wasabi, mango and bacon mac. So far, we are only through 2 waves. When the voting ends here in October, the winner will be announced (it’s hands down, bacon Mac in my area, it outsold the other 3 flavors combined and then some. Couldn’t keep it on the shelf.) and there will be an encore 3rd wave. And with my understanding, cappuccino lays (and mango salsa) will have an extremely limited production.

    But yeah, glad you found some use of of that bag of chips.


    • Wow, I figured they would be a tough sell, but I had no idea they’d flopped THAT badly. Thanks for the stats update. We went to the grocery yesterday in hopes of grabbing maybe the Bacon Mac ‘n’ Cheese, but the closest to a creative flavor they had was Garlic Cheese Bread Lay’s. Neat idea, but the flavor is so faint that we can barely detect it. So I guess now they’re afraid of overdoing it?

      Also, I totally forgot you worked for the company. I should’ve bugged you about this first. 😉


      • let me geek out a little more; last year, we launched the Do Yourself a Flavor contest, and released chicken and waffle lays, sriracha lays and cheesy garlic bread lays. it was an astounding success. i mean, when we first came up with the contest, it was only going to be one wave of these flavors. the demand was so incredible, that frito decided to extend the contest and release 2 more waves, the last wave being an encore of the 3 flavors and an announced winner. cheesy garlic bread won. sales wise, from my standpoint, i could tell that cheesy garlic bread was my top seller, but chicken and waffle was a fairly close second, and sriracha, while not a big seller, did fine on it’s own. anyways, cheesy garlic bread won, it’s been pretty successful as a permanent fixture in our lays line up so far.

        now on to this years contest. frito lay wanted to go above and beyond. instead of 3 flavors, lets do 4. and instead of sticking with just original lays, lets expand it to kettle and the wavy brand, which outside of original wavy lays, both styles of chips is really kind of a niche market. lastly, frito lay didn’t want to get caught off guard this time with not being able to replenish, so the production of these 4 new flavors were pretty outstanding out of the gate. once released and out in the market, i could tell after a week that bacon mac was going to be the winner. here i am with my stores, out of bacon mac , can’t keep it on the shelf, wasabi ginger sold well, actually, but not near the volume to keep up with bacon mac. and here’s cappuccino and mango salsa just sitting there. they ended up cutting back production on mango salsa and cappuccino, mango was able to lessen the blow a bit on stales, but cappuccino, like i said in my previous post, is just an absolute epic failure. i’m glad i don’t have a walmart supercenter. talking to the salesmen that have walmarts, they’re sitting on 10-20 cases of cappuccino lays just in the backroom, not including the cappuccino lays they have strung out all over in their walmarts just to try and get rid of them. there’s 6 bags in a case, $4.99 a pop….that’s a ton of unsaleables.


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