This time they're changing things up and pitting similar flavors against each other.
First up? Honey BBQ vs. Korean BBQ
These are plain potato chips. The Korean BBQ smells sort of smokey and greasy (in a steak on the grill kind of way). While I love the smell of meat cooking, something about this is unappealing. I do appreciate that the smokiness seems authentic. It doesn't smell or taste like liquid smoke, a flavor I dislike. Taste-wise, they match up quite well with how they smell. There is a toasted sesame note as well as hints of acidity and sweetness.
The Honey BBQ chips smell like sweet potatoes. Weird. These have that paprika-y orange color I associate with BBQ chips that the Korean BBQ chips lacked. These taste like BBQ chips. A lot of sweetness, a hit of acidity. I don't buy BBQ chips, so I'm not sure how different they made these taste from the traditional. I feel like they're sweeter and there's a more ketchupy flavor. Fewer spices, maybe?
Between the two I would choose the Korean BBQ. I don't really like BBQ chips much and the Honey ones are cloying in a way I don't like. That said, I prefer the smell of the Honey BBQ chips - it's less off-putting.
Next? Fiery Roasted Habanero vs. Flamin' Hot
Habanero is bright orange and the smell perfectly captures that fruity-pepperyness of fresh chile peppers. The flavor starts off as a continuation of the scent. More fruit/pepper/paprika before it quickly dives right down into just being spicy. The back of my tongue is roasting. I'm not crying, but I can admit that I have the tiniest runny nose now. The flavor before the burn was actually quite nice, but I don't know that I'll eat the rest of these.
In contrast to its analogue, Flamin' Hot are deep red. The color of Flamin' Hot Cheetos. These smell like BBQ chips. They taste like smoked paprika and BBQ. There wasn't much burn until I swallowed, but now my throat is on fire. If they didn't burn so much I think I would buy these.
Winner? Flamin' Hot. I love smoked paprika, I put it on everything. So having a chip that tastes like that is great in my book. I did appreciate that the Habanero didn't just taste like hot, though.
Smoked Gouda & Chive vs. Cheddar and Sour Cream
So I didn't realize how Lays had arranged things until after my chips were on their way. I only have Smoked Gouda. I assumed that the Cheddar and Sour Cream were an old flavor. The Smoked Gouda chips have the tangy scent of cheddar and sour cream chips, but there is a hint of onion/chive as well. Okay, so I don't smell smoke here, but I do taste it. I was expecting this to come across as a loaded baked potato flavor, but it really does taste like a smoked gouda with chives. And again, the smoke flavor isn't the aggressive hot dog flavor of liquid smoke. It's a more subtle, balanced addition. These are delicious.
I can't imagine a Cheddar and Sour Cream chip that could beat the Smoked Gouda. The flavors blend well, I'm not left with an unpleasant aftertaste of onion or liquid smoke, and it tastes like it says it will. Yum.
And the final two, Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper vs. Olive Oil & Herbs - both Kettle Cooked
Sea Salt: yep, this smells like salt and cracked pepper. Not as pungent as fresh-cracked, but definitely not ground. Very crunchy, but not as assertive as I expected. I am probably biased since I've been eating my popcorn recently with salt and fresh cracked pepper on top, but the flavors here just aren't are big as I want. I can see salt crystals and chunks of pepper but the taste just isn't coming through. A mild pepper flavor, the salt is almost unnoticeable (if there wasn't enough, I'd notice. I'm glad there's not too much, but for you to list salt as one of the two main flavors and then give me this? Meh.). These are okay.
Olive Oil and Herbs Kettle Chips smell like thyme and basil, and I love it. A good, rounded herbal flavor from the basil, thyme, and oregano.. maybe a little thyme-heavy a few chips in. There isn't much in the way of olive oil flavor, really. A light nuttiness? And the garlic/onion powder has a bit too much kick. These are also okay.
Winner? You know, this is a tough one because they are both so mediocre to me. I guess Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper edges out Olive Oil, simply for the fact that I ate more of the Sea Salt without wishing for a drink or something else to taste.
Overall winner? Smoked Gouda and Chives.