Julia Stanley-Metz fell in love with the flavor of her husband’s mango salsa. She hopes the rest of the nation will agree – especially if that fruity salsa taste is packed into a potato chip. If they do, the Sacramento mom could win $1 million.
Stanley-Metz, 38, is one of four finalists in Lay’s Potato Chips’ Do Us a Flavor contest to create a new variety for the classic snack product. Her entry – Wavy Salsa Mango – was inspired by husband Rick Metz’s salsa.
“During the school year, we have Taco Tuesdays every week where we get together and cook things from our garden,” Stanley-Metz said. “My husband started making fruit salsas. Once we tried it, we never went back (to plain tomato salsa). Who knew that cooking together could pay off in such a big way?”
Consumers have until Oct. 18 to vote to “#SaveMango” in the online contest at www.DoUsAFlavor.com. Chip lovers can vote up to four times a day – once on each social media platform – via the website, Twitter, Instagram or texting “Mango” to 24477 (CHIPS). The flavor with the most votes brings home the million-dollar grand prize plus becomes a permanent part of Lay’s family of chips.
Her spicy-sweet and salty chips, which taste distinctly like mango with a dash of salsa spice, already have beaten a lot of competition.
“We received 14 million entries from around the county and some of those entries were out of this world,” said Frito-Lay’s Chris Kuechenmeister, who visited Sacramento on Tuesday to unveil the four finalists during a short presentation at Capitol Park. “(Picking finalists) is a tough job. We have a team of people who went through every entry. Some were very, very different. There were a lot of wonderful ideas. It was a tough pick. The four finalists are a great representation of consumer tastes.”
In addition to Wavy Mango Salsa, the other finalists are classically cheesy Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese (submitted by an Ohio fireman), spicy hot Wasabi & Ginger (suggested by a New Jersey nurse) and the brown sugar-laced Cappuccino (from a Las Vegas teacher). All four already have won $50,000 each for making it to the finals, Kuechenmeister said.
“We saw a lot of savory suggestions, especially bacon,” Kuechenmeister said. “But we also saw a lot of sweet ideas. People like that salty/sweet combination.”
This was the second time Frito-Lay has offered this contest in the United States, Kuechenmeister noted. The first winner was Cheesy Garlic Bread flavored chips, which beat out Sriracha and Chicken & Waffles.
When she first learned she was a finalist, Stanley-Metz didn’t believe it. “I wasn’t sure the email was spam,” she recalled. “I was still very wary, but they kept trying. When they had the PR agency contact me, that’s when I knew this is real.”
A professional event planner, Stanley-Metz went to Frito-Lay’s test kitchens in Plano, Texas, to help develop the final flavor for her chips. She knew she wanted her chip to be the wavy dip-ready variety.
“I love to dip, I love guacamole, I love salsa,” she said. “These chips are really good with mango salsa, too.
“Chips and salsa are such a natural,” she added. “I was amazed there wasn’t already mango-salsa chips on the market.”
During the contest period, Stanley-Metz plans to post her favorite Taco Tuesday recipes each week on her official contest Facebook page ( www.facebook.com/LaysWavyMangoSalsa). That includes Rick’s mango salsa, coming soon.
As for the Wavy Mango Salsa chips and its fellow finalists, they started arriving in Sacramento stores Tuesday and will be available through (at least) October. Suggested retail price is $1.49 for a 27/8-ounce bag.
Call The Bee’s Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington.