While Lay’s potato chips can be found in more than 200 varieties in countries around the globe, the salty, crunchy snack item had a humble beginning. To get your hands on a bag of Lay’s potato chips in their infancy, you would have to find Mr. Herman Lay and hope that the trunk of his car was stocked with the fried potatoes ready for sale.
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Herman Lay stepped into the business in 1932, when he opened a company that made various snack foods in Nashville. A few years later, in 1938, he bought another Southern snack business – one that made potato chips in Atlanta — called Barrett Food Company. Herman Lay named the combined business H.W, Lay Lingo & Company, quite a mouthful, even for a food manufacturer.
Not long after, Herman Lay hit the road, traveling throughout the American South hawking his Lay’s potato chips out of his car, and making lifelong customers out of the deal. Lay knew he had a great product, and he knew that anyone who tasted it wanted more, he just had to figure out how to take his sales opportunities to a higher level.
In 1944, Lay shortened the name of his business to “Lay’s Lay Lingo Company” and made a very bold move. Lay’s Lay Lingo Company bought television advertisements. It was the first snack manufacturer to advertise on TV, and the first to do so with a celebrity spokesman. That was Bert Lahr.
While his name might not ring a bell today, chances are very good that you are familiar with at least one role played by Bert Lahr. He was the Cowardly Lion in “Wizard of Oz.” Before he came to fame with that role in 1939, he was a successful comedian and vaudeville star. His film career wasn’t particularly strong after “The Wizard of Oz,” but the fame from that role certainly made him a great pick for the Lay’s potato chips.
Lahr was featured in a many Lay’s television commercials and was known for appearing in all sorts of costumes and delivering the famous slogan, “Betcha can’t eat just one.”
While his film career was short-lived, Lahr was successful in TV – not just in Lay’s potato chips commercials but also in other roles – and he also found his footing on the stage, winning in a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for “Foxy” in 1964.
After finding so much success with celebrity spokesman Bert Lahr, Lay’s decided to keep on going with a good thing. Over the years, celebrities from all walks of life have done Lay’s potato chips ads. In most recent times, actors Tracee Ellis, Anna Kendrick, Seth Rogan and Paul Rudd have been featured in Lay’s potato chip commercials.
Herman Lay was doing well in the snack manufacturing business for a couple of decades. His chief competitor was the Frito Company, which was founded by Charles. After years of competition, the two companies decided to join forces and became the snack-food giant Frito-Lay in 1961. At that point, Frito-Lay had a revenue of mor than $125 million. Just a few years later, in 1965, Frito-Lay took another big leap, merging with the Pepsi-Cola Company to become PepsiCo, one of the largest food and beverage manufacturers in the world.
The merger and subsequent formation of the behemoth PepsiCo meant that the Lay’s brand could develop even further. In 1991, a few Lay’s formula was introduced, and it was touted as being crispier and having a longer shelf life. The company also released some new varieties, including Wavy Lays. They also added a low-calorie baked Lay’s and WOW chips, which were fat-free. In the 2000’s, the introduced a line of kettle chips and Stax, a chip designed to compete with Pringles.
Lay’s Potato Chips Flavors
Lay’s are known for their extensive list of flavors, both in America and around the world. In recent years, they have even held “Do Us a Flavor” contests for new taste profiles, offering $1 million for the next big idea. Contests aside, Lay’s has come up with plenty of flavor ideas of its own, and those include quite a list worldwide.
In the United States, flavors have been slightly slower to market. Aside from plain Lay’s potato chips, American finally got a new flavor in 1958, when barbecue chips were released. Finally, another flavor emerged in the late 1970’s, Sour Cream & Onion.
Since then, things have really taken off in the American market. Lay’s come in Garden Tomato and Basil, Honey Barbecue, Sweet Southern Heat Barbecue, Tapatio Limon, Simply Sea Salt Thick Cut, Fiery Habanero, and Dill Pickle. Through the “Do Us a Flavor” contest, some other newcomers have been tried and tested. Those include Sriracha, Chicken and Waffles, Crispy taco, Everything Bagel and Greek Tzatziki.
Around the world
While Lay’s potato chips are well-known by that name in America, consumers in other countries know them by different, but just as ubiquitous names. In the U.K. and Ireland, the chips are called Walkers. In Australia, you’ll find them as Smith’s. If you have a hankering for Lay’s potato chips in Egypt, look for Chipsy. Find them as Sabritas in Mexico and as Hostess in Canada.
Canadians tend to go for the traditional, but also put their own spin on unique flavor. Lay’s com in the following flavors: Lightly Salted, Wavy Original, Dill Pickle, BBQ, Old fashion BBQ, Ketchup, Salt & Vinegar, Smoky Bacon, Sea Salt & Pepper, and Cheddar & Sour Cream. Regional flavors include Fries & and Wavy Old-Fashioned Ketchup. There’s also “All Dressed,” which was also made available in the U.S. The Canadian-born chip combines the flavors of barbecue, sour cream and onion, ketchup, and salt and vinegar all in one. Finalists for the “Do Us a Flavour” contest (as it was spelled in Canada) have included Creamy Garlic Caesar, Perogy Platter, Grilled Cheese & Ketchup, Maple Moose, Bacon Poutine, Cinnamon Bun, Jalapeño Mac n’ Cheese, and Tzatziki.
In China, you’ll find Lay’s potato chips filed into categories. Cool & Refreshing offers Cucumber, Kiwi, Blueberry, Cherry Tomato and Lime varieties. Classic Flavors includes American Classic, Italian Red Meat, Mexican Tomato Chicken, Texas Grilled BBQ, and French Chicken. In the Intense & Stimulating line are Numb & Spicy Hot Pot, and Hot & Sour Fish Soup). Stax come in Authentic Original, Green Cucumber, Tomato, Sizzled Barbecue, Finger Licking Braised Pork, Black Pepper Rib Eye Steak, Sea Salt And Cheese, Sea Salt And Chocolate, Garden Tomato, Green Tea, and Lime.]
The French have about Lay’s eight lines of potato chips, each offered in their own flavor profiles, totaling about 30 choices in all. Lay’s flavors in France include Barbecue, Cheeseburger, Bolognaise, Roasted Chicken, Cheese, Salt & Vinegar, Spicy and Nature.
As you might imagine, the flavors of Lay’s (called Tasty in many markets) have a decidedly Mediterranean flare. These include Feta cheese flavor, Tzatziki, Olive and Tomato, Oregano, Sea Salt & Black Pepper, Onion & Cheese, Prawn Cocktail, Salt, Salt & Vinegar and Barbeque and more
Lay’s entered the snack food market in 1995 in India with some American-style flavors such as sour cream and onion, and with some Indian staples as well. These include India’s magic masala, Spanish tomato tango, classic salted, West indies’ hot ‘n’ sweet Chilli, chille Limón, Lay’s Crispz herb and onion.
In Mexico, Lay’s potato chips are sold as Sabritas and include brands like Original, Ruffles, Tostitos, Doritos, Cheetos, Pake-Taxo, Japoneses (peanuts), Cheetos Poffets, Rancheritos, Adobados, Frit-os, Churrumais, Caseras, Sabritones, Crujitos and Chicharrón Clásico.
United Kingdom, Ireland
Are you ready for more innovative flavor profiles? Check out the chip aisles in the U.K. and Ireland and find Lay’s potato chips (labeled as Walkers) in varieties: Prawn Cocktail, Pickled Onion, and Marmite. “Do Us A Flavour” contests finalists have resulted in some other inventive chips, including promotion Spanish Chicken Paella, Japanese Teriyaki Chicken, German Bratwurst Sausage Australian BBQ Kangaroo, South African Sweet Chutney, Argentinian Flame Grilled Steak and Welsh Rarebit.
- Vegetable Oil (Canola, Corn, Soybean, and/or Sunflower Oil)
|1 oz (28g)
|% Daily Value*
|Amount Per Serving
|Calories from Fat
- Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Did You Know?
- Lay’s potato chips are sourced from 25 different potatoes grown on more than 120 farms in the world.
- It’s well known that Lay’s has different flavors in different countries. It also sells different flavors depending on the region in each country. This marketing approach ensures that local preferences are factored in when developing the creation and distribution of products.
- Lay’s has an in-house flavor chef, and he keeps his skills sharp by working at restaurants around the world, including Mediterranean cafes and an oyster bar.
- The internet has had some fun with the “Do Us a Flavor” campaign. While the legit flavors that have come out of the campaign can be unusual, the meme-makers of the world have taken unusual to a new level with their fake creations. These include, Thor’s Abs, Human Rights Violations, Drizzle Swizzlers, Interior Beef and the simple yet simply disgusting, Carpet.
- Lay’s potato chips are cooked in healthier oils such as corn, canola and sunflower. And in the early 2000’s, Lay’s removed trans fats from its chips in an effort to take one more step to creating a healthier snack.
Who owns Lay’s Potato Chips?
Lay’s are owned by PepsiCo and produced by Frito-Lay
in the United States.
My name is Brianna and I love writing on all topics. Candy history fascinates me and I am passionate about sharing my love of this topic with everyone else!
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