Monday, April 25, 2011

Lay’s Max Craquant Saveur Cheeseburger

          It would seem Cheeseburger chips are the new genre to match, as since I first tried out the Dorito’s variety in the summer of 2010, I was surprised to discover Lay’s own Cheeseburger chips in Paris, of all places.  Apparently the idea has appeal, even though it was in France that a militant farmer activist used his tractor to demolish a McDoanld's in protest of the American invasion of crap food in the land of haute cuisine (although on the less symoblic level, it involved a dispute over trade tarifs on Roquefort cheese and genetically modified beef, which definitely has shades of the opening of Episode I The Phantom Menace).  Just like banning Valentine’s Day in Malaysia, incidents like this are really proof of the seduction of debased foreign values- the purveyors of traditional culture go forth with pitchforks to cleanse those attracted to corrupt outsider values (or food), but low tastes can only but prevail in the end.
This McDonald's in construction was
mysteriously burned down in the town
of Voreppe after the residents compla-
ined that it would smell bad.  Lesson
to draw from this: use deodorant in
France if you love life.
            As I have mentioned before, I’ve never actually been a fan of fast-food style hamburgers since I stopped being of the age to care about the ‘free’ toys that came with the Happy Meals.  (Interestingly enough, there is a lawsuit in California seeking to ban McDonald’s from including toys in their Happy Meals!)The real thing, made at a local hamburger joint, or better yet, grilled at home, is by far superior.  And yet, just like my experience with the Cheeseburger Doritos, I found the rainbow of hamburger-associated flavors irresistibly nostalgic and delightful in its color and vibrance.
            Lay’s chips are on ruffled potato chips, which make for a significantly different eating experience than the Doritos.  Whereas Doritos nachos are basically all flavoring, with these you can still taste the potato underneath the flavors.  Fortunately, the potato crisps are pretty good quality, being thicker and crunchier than average.  I had initially feared that using potato-chips instead of nacho chips would dilute the cheeseburger flavor, but actually it had the effect of making the chips easier to eat at length by dialing down the intensity of the hamburger-seasoning.
Americans are so bad
at lighting fires that we
we grow suspcious of
barbecued meat that
doesn't taste of petroleum.
            Still, the flavoring is basically why you’d be interested in these chips, and I’m happy to report that they deliver a powerful taste of ketchup, pickles, onions and mustard supported by a subtle but comforting aroma of fire-grilled beef.  (You can practically taste the lighter fluid!)  Obviously the vinegary aspect present in mustard and ketchup are pretty much mutually reinforcing, but that in no way diminishes the uncanniness of the emulation.  Nicely enough, the ingredient lists includes actual tomato, garlic, vinegar, onions, mustard seed, and green peppers, so it looks like they didn't reduce everything to molecularly bonded aromas as one might expect.  The only notable omission when compared to the Cheeseburger Doritos, is the lack of actual cheese flavor, which is indeed rather odd for a cheeseburger-flavored product.  Clearly they were marketing on the ‘concept’ of being Cheeseburger flavored, even though these are in fact ‘Hamburger flavored.’ Now if they only get around to the kebab-flavored variety, I will be perfectly happy.
            So in summary, chalk another one up to the chemists in the employ of multi-national food factories, these chips were evocative of meat, condiments, and vegetables all at once and generally of good quality, offering an interesting and generally easier to eat alternative to Dorito’s praise-worthy rendition of the same concept.  So, if while overseas you feel a need to dip into some hamburger-nostalgia chips, don’t worry- the French do too, and have that covered for you.

Stars: 3/4
Spiciness Rating: None

- Excellent burger emulation full of the taste of mustard, ketchup, pickles, and onions
- Nice grilled meat aroma in the back ground
- Thick, crunchy potato crisps of above average quality

- No cheese flavor
- Some might prefer the slightly more intense flavor of the Doritos Cheeseburger Nachos

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