Like other novelty flavours, this latest effort fails to capture the source material taste.
LAY’S CHALET SAUCE CHIPS
THE GOOD: They’re chips, and even bad chips are kind of good.
THE BAD: Slight tang but not really reminiscent of Chalet Sauce.
RATING: A A A A
It’s exactly 10 years ago that I moved back home to Canada after a couple years abroad in China and New Zealand. I’m not kidding when I say that one of my main motivations was Swiss Chalet sauce, or more specifically, my inability to get it internationally.
Now, before you think me ridiculous, consider that the toughest part of living away from home is missing the familiarities that make it so.
It can be sights, sounds, smells, and yes, even tastes. Heck, I really missed Tim Horton’s coffee too, although I’m glad to say I’ve disabused myself of that particular addiction over the past few years. Swiss Chalet dipping sauce… that heavenly, tangy dipping sauce… not so much.
Chalet Sauce is obviously an official taste of Canada for me and a lot of Canadians, as evidenced by the fact that it’s Lay’s latest potato chip flavour.
I was instantly excited to see the news. Indeed, I love Chalet Sauce so much, I once chugged an entire bowl on a dare. My friends never coughed up the $5 they owed me, despite me almost having a coronary. Chalet Sauce is always great, but a giant gulp of it all at once feels like a brick stuck in your esophagus. I don’t recommend it.
Anyhow, the chips. They’re available as long as supplies last in family-size 255-gram and single-serving 40-gram bags at select Swiss Chalet restaurants. I didn’t check how much the small ones were – I was too hungry to ask – but the big bag cost about $3.50.
After the obligatory Twitter selfie, I tore into the bag in much the same way I attack a quarter-chicken dinner: voraciously. After inhaling a couple handfuls, I stopped to take the chips’ measure.
It’s probably worthwhile to note at this point that I actually had eaten quarter-chicken dinner just a few days prior, so my taste buds were well attuned to that sweet, sweet Chalet Sauce tang. And this… wasn’t it.
Yeah, there’s a hint of it there – a slight salty tang – but only if you really stretch your imagination. In fact, if it didn’t say “Chalet Sauce” on the bag and Lay’s chose to market this as some other flavour – maybe “Mildly Tangy Potato” – you’d be hard-pressed to identify it as such.
In that way, they’re a lot like many of Lay’s other kooky flavour efforts. I had some poutine-flavoured chips the other day and it was pretty much the same thing… yeah, maybe the taste is kind of there, but not really.
With the miracles of chemical science today, I have little doubt that Lay’s could make chips that really, really taste like Chalet Sauce, but I suspect there’s a reluctance to do so.
As they are, they’re palatable enough, but going really legit might turn the mainstream off. It might be too much tang to for people’s precious palates to handle. Not me, though. Bring it on.
Until then, I guess I’ll have to stick to dipping plain-flavoured chips into Chalet Sauce. Lay’s certainly hasn’t provided Canadians living abroad with anything to move home about.