Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lays Chips a L’Ancienne Saveur Jambon Fume

(Old-Fashioned Smoked-Ham Flavor)

Have you ever finished watching a movie and thought to yourself- “Wow, what an amazing twist in the plot.  Too bad the characters, setting, cinematography, and dialogue ranged from direly boring to utterly crappy.”  It’s those kinds of films that get one thing right, do it so very well, but are full of tragic fail by being deficient in every other regard.

I’m perhaps over playing the link here with the ‘Smoked Ham’ flavored chips from Lays I recently tried out, but basically my complaint is that it pulls off a pretty clever trick with the flavor, but fails to follow up anything particularly interesting thereafter.  It’s like a student that show up to class with a snazzy intro for their Power Point presentation, hoping to get away with having done almost no research outside of Wikipedia.  (We’ve probably all been that person at least once in our lives…)  


That aisle on the left is all ham.
Seriously.

This is yet another flavor I found in Europe which I have yet to see in the US- ‘smoked ham’- and so I was pretty intrigued from the get go.  Ham is THE lunch meat in France- go to the grocery store or deli.  No roast beef in sight.  Bologna need not apply- save for the occassional package of mortadella.  But aside from some sliced chick or turkey, there are at least two dozens varieties of ham on sale at the super market. What, don't you want some pate or sliced table sausage with your bread?  Perhaps you should buy a tasty ham sandwich with butter and mustard from the boulangerie?  So in a sense, ham chips are obvious here. 

The chips inside are slightly above average quality salty potato crisps, and when you first bite into them you immediately are hit by an evocative buttery-ham flavor.  However, while the flavor is very cleverly done, the problem with a very salty ham flavor is that after a bite or two, it tastes nearly identical to salty potato chip flavor.  So about three mouthfuls in, you will easily forget that you are eating ‘ham-flavored’ chips and just process them as being the regular sort.

Sometimes a lack of subtly is a virtue.
More ham, not less!
Now as regular potato chips, they are unexceptional though in no way 'bad', but I can’t help but feel that they miss the mark.  I want my ham flavored potato chips to be more hammy, a la William Shatner, something complex enough to continue stimulating the tongue, not a brief sort of amuse-guelle that is quickly washed away in a wave of generic saltiness.  So while there are no major faults with these chips, I cannot help but rate them critically for their lack of panache.  The initial flavor as it hits the tongue is intriguing, but no further delights follow it as you probe too deeply.  Like too many movies today, these chips offer a shallow experience with only a brief flash of innovation, no matter how cunning.

Stars: 1 ½
Spiciness Rating: none

Pros:
- Buttery ham flavor is at first uncanny and amusing.
- Decent texture

Cons:
- After the initial few bites, they begin to taste exactly like regular potato chips.
- Relies to heavily on saltiness rather than additional flavoring to evoke ham

33 comments:

  1. this is excellent; my mouth is watering as i type this. i should have tried some when i was there. oh well. is it actually flavored with ham?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well, a quick glance at the ingredient list later and it seems there is no actual 'ham' listed. Not unusual really, but it's always nice when they do use some of the actual ingredient the product is supposed to taste like. Give them a try if they interest you- they really do taste like ham at first, my problem is after a little eating they just taste like salty potato chips.

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