Friday, November 08, 2013

Chocolate chips? Them’s fightin’ words.

I’ll admit, if I hadn’t already tasted chocolate-covered pretzels, I might be a bit skeptical about chocolate-covered potato chips.

But I have, and they’re pretty good.

So I’ll have to say that a chocolate-covered potato chip sounds like a righteous combination to me.

What’s not to like?

It does, after all, include pretty much all of the major food groups: salt, grease, sugar, and chocolate. It’s crisp. And it’s based on the potato, which as anyone of Irish descent understands is the first item on the dinner plate that your fork takes aim on.

Unbeknownst to me, this gourmet delight has apparently been around for a while. They’re made by small market snack producers like Utz (which has penetrated the New England market, such that, when, on Mad Men,  Sterling Cooper – remember them – got the Utz account, we knew what they were talking about). And Asher’s among others has an upscale version. (A 4 oz. bag goes for $4.50; I saw a 3 pound box that costs about $50. While on the subject of Asher’s. Like Utz, it’s headquartered in Pennsylvania where, I believe, the Peeps empire is also located. Not to mention Hershey’s. Perhaps it’s time to rethink that Keystone State thing. After all, a lot more people are familiar with snacks than they are with keystones.

Anyway, Lay’s is now getting into the fray, with a product that will be lower-end than Asher’s, but will – unlike Utz – have a more national/multi-national footprint if they decide that there’s a permanent market.

For starters, they’ll be rolling them out at Target.

But I, alas, am not their target market:

The chipmaker says the salty-sweet combo is tailor-made for young women, who apparently can’t get enough of the stuff.

Jennifer Saenz, Lay’s senior director of marketing, noted in an e-mail: “the increasing popularity of chocolate-covered snacks among our target audience, millennial women. … They are looking for those more indulgent, savory/sweet combinations.” (Source: Business Week.)

Millennials, huh?

Aren’t they the ones trying to keep the weight off so that it’ll be easier to teeter around on those spike heels? Or am I confusing them with another demographic?

Come to think of it, I’ve seen a lot more ballerina flats and skimmers on the sweet young things lately, so maybe they’re hunkering down into comfy-hood.

Well, whether Lay’s wants my approval or not, I’ll give this product a nod. Which is not to say that I’ll actually go out and buy any. Just that I think the idea’s just fine.

Not all that original, given all the other chocolate-covered chips (not to mention c-c pretzels) that are already out there.

But, as a product extension of a plain old bag of Lay’s, I bet they take off. (Would that State Line were still in business, or Wachusett – which was acquired by Utz, of all things.)

While I welcome the arrival of a generally available, well-priced chocolate-covered potato chip, what really caught my interest was part of the comment stream, where a woman named Cheryl set out her complaint:

HOLD THE PRESSES!!! ok I am angry,,,when Lays had their "name us a flavor" contest...Chocolate was my submission....I accepted the fact that it did not win....but it was good enough for them to produce after all ...and they are calling it original..NOT COOL LAYS...

Actually, the contest was “Do Us A Flavor” (get it?), which was won by cheesy-garlic bread flavored chips. (The runners up were a chicken and waffles (tinged with maple syrup) suggestion, and a Sriracha-flavored version.)

Anyway, Cheryl clearly had her fume on:


Another commenter calmly pointed out that there’s a difference between a chocolate-flavored chip, and a chocolate-covered chip:

The difference is this chip is actually dipped in chocolate. The name you flavor contest was for flavor additives. For example: the chicken & waffles chip is not dipped in batter and fried, it just has the flavor. Huge difference.

But Cheryl wasn’t having any, and she’s lawyering, errrr, lawering, up:

I don't know how they were making them who knows ..I only know that my flavor was..Chocolate ..even the name was the same.."chocolate chip" they never said how they were making them..didn't care..powdered,dipped,..what ever...I was robbed...didn't win the contest...but yet they used the concept... the only change was they used the wavy ...what a rip off...getting a Lawer as we speak!....

Yet another commenter jumped in to note that chocolate-covered potato chips have been around for years:

Calm down, you did not invent this flavor. (And anyway, there's a good chance Lays didn't read your submission. A big company like that would never read every single suggestion. Relax.)

But Cheryl’s sticking to her guns:

This I know...but Lays did not come up with it either..and it was not in their line up until a few months ago..with my submission...I'm calm....they can explain it to the judge..already found's like Mc Donalds doing a burger contest..someone submits Big MIC..and the produce the Big Mac...then claim credit for an need to reply.

Cheryl isn’t the only one staking her claim, on Lay’s FB page, we hear from Sally, who is aggrieved on behalf of a neighbor:

    During your recent contest my neighbor submitted a name for a chip "Cho-Co Chips" with the description, "Potato Chips drizzled with chocolate..." We never heard back, you chose 3 other ideas, then within a few months later you come out with chips dipped in chocolate for your newest chip, my neighbor's idea... She is elderly and homebound, and she almost cried when she saw the first commercial for this on television as she had actually thought she had a shot at winning because she thought that her idea was so good, as you also obviously did. You cheated an elderly, homebound woman who asked me daily to check on the status of the "Cho-Co Chip" submission for her. I bet this post gets deleted and I get no response. Let's see if you are fair and admit to the truth... Please make an elderly, homebound woman who bares quite a bit of pain daily happy and fess up and at least give her some recognition.... after all, you did steal her idea and market it as your own. Not fair..

    Kim, another voice of reason, piped in to say that  the chocolate-covered idea was in no way an original:

    They won't delete it, and for the mere reason of that they probably got thousands of that idea, it was actually my idea too....sorry just saying. As sorry as I feel for that elderly women, there are thousands of women out there who have been eating lays chips and throwing a Herseys kiss in to their mouth for years.

    Thank you, Kim, for that idea. I will get on it shortly.

    If Lay’s still has their Do Me A Flavor contest entries sitting around, they might want to have an intern go through them and find all the ones that suggested chocolate-flavored chips and comp them with a bag of Chocolate Chips.

    And good luck to you, Cheryl.

    Even if you do get to court, you probably don’t stand a chance against the housebound old lady.

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