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Baked Lays: The Chip that Roared by Joel "I can never eat just one" Comm

It's crunchy. It's salty. It's not fattening. It's not immoral or illegal either. It's the biggest thing since potato chips. Well, I guess that's not totally true. After all, it IS a potato chip.

Since Frito-Lay introduced Baked Lays at the start of 1996, they have created a wave of loyal followers that are sweeping the nation. From coast to coast, grocers are having a hard time keeping bags on the shelf. In fact, as a recent Baked Lays convert, I attempted to track down one single bag at five, count 'em, five local grocery stores. Merely turning the corner into the chip aisle revealed a large empty row on the shelf. There were no Baked Lays! Disappointed, dejected, and craving the taste of this low-fat treat, I considered purchasing another chip. But the thought was brief, as I knew nothing else would satisfy my urge.

Even now, I long for that wonderful feel of a unbroken chip, in it's 'potato' shape. I wish for the satisfying crunch as the delectible snack is met by my teeth. And I dream of finishing a bag, only to find a dozen more in my pantry. I've got to snap out of it! But I, like many Americans, have found a new taste. And we want our Baked Lays!

So what's with the hysteria? Why is America going bananas over a potato chip? There are plenty of chips on the market, and many claiming to have lower fat content. And there are plenty of snack foods with no fat in them at all. Apparantly, Frito-Lay has tapped into a snack food that is not only low fat, but lives up to its promises of great taste.

Traditional potato chips have 10 grams of fat per ounce. Baked Lays have 1.5 grams of fat. So let me get this straight. I can eat 10 traditional chips or a whole bag of Baked Lays? Ummm, let me think. Duh. Needless to say, other chip companies are going to be jumping on the low-fat baked chip alternative rapidly. I'd say you can expect to see Baked Pringles and Baked Ruffles on the shelf soon.

When did this all start? Frito-Lay actually began test-marketing the chip in 1994, and brought the chip into several markets in summer of 1995. However, the big national launch was concentrated on New Years Day. Frito-lay aired commercials featuring supermodels Vendela, Cathy Ireland, and Naomi Campbell. The three barbies proceeded to munch Baked Lays noting, "You can eat like one of the guys and still look like one of the girls." Yeah, right.

Anyway, the commercial did place Baked Lays in the mind of the consumer, and it didn't take long for the word to spread. Lynn Markley, Frito-Lay spokeswoman, said "No one was aware of Baked Lay's until we started advertising. Since then, it's been a feeding frenzy."

The bigwigs at Frito-Lay are estimating that 1996 sales of Baked Lays could top $300 million. That would make it the best-selling snack in the history of the company. They are making 2.5 million bags a week. And it's not enough.

The company is receiving thousands of calls from consumers. Many are praising the chip. Some have questions. but most just want to know where they can find some. There is even a story about a Connecticut state trooper who pulled over a Frito-Lay route driver, seeking Baked Lays. (Wonder if his Seargent has heard about THIS one!)

To ramp production up further, Frito-Lay is building a fifth Baked Lay's production line at it's facility in Aberdeen, Maryland. It should be complete in April 1996, and will put them out $20 million. Pocket change for a product that is destined to go down in snack history.

Here's the skinny on these low-fat wonders:
 

Baked Lays are available in original and barbecue flavor. I'd have to say I prefer the original, though the barbecue will do in a pinch.


Nutritionals:

Serving Size - 1 ounce (yeah, right... like 11 chips are gonna be enough...)
Fat - 1.5 gm (yahoo!)
Calories - 110 (who counts calories anymore?)
Cholesterol - 0 mg
Carbohydrates - 23 gm
Sodium - 150 mg (everything has a catch)
Protein - 2 gm
 

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review by . August 21, 2009
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