When I was developing new products as part of Frito-Lay’s Marketing team, the compelling questions we always asked ourselves before launching a new project were: “What will be the next big food trend?” and “How can we adapt that trend to snack foods?”
Restaurants always lead new food trends, and for a long time, the leading innovations had an international flair. We borrowed flavors from Mexican and Caribbean foods, Asian cuisine and Italian and Mediterranean dishes to determine new chip flavors. For example, I helped launch, in the U.S., Gamesa cookies from Mexico, Wasabi Funyuns from Asia and chocolate-filled croissants from Greece. We found that Americans loved exotic variety, but if we tried to be too different, the flavors wouldn’t catch on with consumers. For example, we once offered a meat-flavored potato chip, inspired by a similar chip in England, but it didn’t do so well in the U.S. Americans wanted what we called, "mainstream -- jazzed up."
Today, the product developers for Lay's potato chips are doing the same kind of consumer research I did years ago, but the “big food trend” today is very different. They’re finding an emerging trend here in the U.S. called “American regional cuisine.” Increasingly, consumers are looking for foods that reflect their own regions in the U.S., as food heritage has become a matter of local pride.
So, the Lay's team collaborated with chefs across the country to understand regional flavor preferences, and they’ve developed six new flavors of Lay’s that represent the best in regional cuisine. Even better, each of these “regional” flavors is made with all-natural ingredients.
One of the new regional flavors, Lay's Tangy Carolina BBQ, is being launched nationwide. The other five flavors are being launched only in the region of the country that inspired the flavor:
• Northeastern U.S. -- Lay's Pepper Relish
• Midwestern U.S. -- Lay's Garden Tomato & Basil
• Northwestern U.S. -- Lay's Balsamic Sweet Onion
• Southwestern U.S. -- Lay's Southwest Cheese & Chiles
• Southeastern U.S. -- Lay's Cajun Herb & Spice
You can find Lay’s Tangy Carolina BBQ and your region’s flavor in the Lay's section of your grocer’s chip aisle. And, look for a coupon for the Lay’s regional flavors in your Sunday paper on March 14. Once you try them, I think you'll agree with me that they fit the definition of “American regional cuisine.”