Thursday, June 21, 2007

Irresistibly Canadian!

For the most part, Canada appears to be a peculiarly accented U.S. What we have in the States, they have here (although, in the case of gas prices, Subway and Kraft Dinner, they just have more). However, delve a little deeper, and you’ll find some unexpected differences. Nowhere is this more evident than in the potato chip aisle at the grocery store. In amongst the standard plain, barbecue, and sour cream and onion were a quartet of flavor oddities. Without further ado, may we present the Lay’s Canadian Collection:

For the graphically challenged, or for those who simply distrust their eyes, those are, in fact Spicy Curry, Roast Chicken, Fries & Gravy varieties of Lay’s. Ketchup flavor was also available. Especially amusing are the enthusiastic profiles on the backs of the bags, which contain not only flavor descriptions, but a stirring appeal to Canadian nationalism.

In the interest of furthering good will and cross-cultural understanding between our two great nations, we took it upon ourselves to sample and evaluate these exotic examples of Canadian cuisine.

First up, Spicy Curry:

Spicy Curry...well, it tasted like curry. Not particularly spicy, but it lived up to its name. Dave found the back especially amusing, as it seemingly thinks that diplomacy, communication, etc. are all overrated- all we really need to induce multicultural harmony is to listen to the sage advice on the back of a potato chip bag.

Next is Roast Chicken, which tasted like we were gnawing on a bouillon cube:

Our third flavor is Fries and Gravy. This is inspired by poutine, a Canadian fast-food treat typically made with fries topped by cheese curds and hot gravy. It's like a heart attack all in one bowl! Anyway, the chips didn't really taste like gravy. Dave said they tasted similar to Funyuns (which also happen to be made by Frito-Lay). We couldn't figure out a better description- they were kind of oniony, but were difficult to pick out as gravy in an eyes-closed taste test.

And finally, winner of the Taster's Choice award for Most Likable Weird Potato Chip Flavor is (drum roll, please): Ketchup!

We actually got 2 bags of ketchup potato chips. They were the flavor we'd be most likely to pick up if we really, really wanted chips and these 4 flavors were our only choices. They tasted like slightly sweet ketchup. The thing that puzzles me is that Lay's puts out ketchup as an example of Canadians' great taste. Now we had some lovely meals on our trip, but I'm not sure any of the nice restaurants we ate at offered ketchup as their primary sauce. I love ketchup; don't get me wrong, but I just don't think it's a good example of a country's high-class taste.

We haven't seen any of these varieties in our grocery store back in the U.S., but take heart, fellow Americans- dill pickle was a Canadian flavor first before Lay's brought it over as a test flavor in the States. If you cross your fingers and write enough nice letters to Frito-Lay, you might just see Ketchup or Roast Chicken chips in your supermarket soon!

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