Brandon Foster dreamed up the “quintessential Utah” chip flavor almost five years ago.
And on July 18, he could be one step closer to his dream of seeing a smoked gouda and honey-flavored chip on grocery store shelves nationwide.
Foster, a Marlborough, Massachusetts, native who now lives in Saratoga Springs, submitted his flavor idea to the Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” pitch contest in January. After a few months of waiting, Foster’s flavor was named one of the 10 semifinalist entries in the competition.
Foster’s chip idea will compete against other semifinalist flavors like “Everything Bagel with Cream Cheese,” “Crispy Taco” and “Avocado Toast,” among others.
A look at all 10 finalists. | dousaflavor.com screenshot
Finalists will be announced on Tuesday at an event in New York City. From there, America will decide Lay’s next chip flavor in an online ballot (available after the finalists are announced). Finalists will win a $50,000 prize, while the grand prize winner will be awarded $1 million and the honor of seeing their chip in grocery stores, according to the competition's rules.
For Foster, this competition has been nearly half a decade in the making. He said he’s snacked on cheese and honey since he was young, but he never thought it had the chance to be a national success. It wasn’t until Lay’s began its competition that the idea came to him.
Hours after graduating from Brigham Young University in 2012, he and his friends went “on the road trip of a lifetime.” They visited California, Las Vegas and Lake Powell.
While camping one night on the lake, the group noticed the Lay’s potato chip competition, which was in its first year. Lay’s chips has added new funky flavors to its repertoire, including Southern Biscuits and Gravy, New York Reuben and Greektown Gyro flavors, which have all hit shelves in recent years.
Still, Foster didn't submit his idea.
“With competitions like that, you never think you’ll have a chance,” he said.
He kept tabs on the competition, though, and when it came around again this year, he submitted a smoked gouda and honey kettle-cooked chip idea. Lay’s told him in April he was one of their 10 finalists.
A sample of what the chip bag will look like if selected. | Courtesy of Brandon Foster
Foster said he had to sign a nondisclosure document and keep his success secret until Lay’s made the official announcement. They did, however, allow him to tell one person — his wife.
Foster, who is working on a master’s degree at the University of Utah for information systems, said he often comes home late at night and the two of them snack on cheese and honey together.
Now, “foodies and judges” will try smoked gouda and honey in a chip, he said.
On Tuesday, three finalists will be selected in the national competition. Those final three flavors will be promoted nationwide, where shoppers and snackers can buy bags of chips and vote for them on Lay’s website.
If he’s selected as a finalist, Foster hopes that Utahns will support him, especially since his chip idea includes honey (Utah is the Beehive State, after all) and cheese.
“I’m representing Utah. Totally. I need all the love I can get because it’s just pure votes,” he said. “If I can get some local Utah-loving to go out and show some support, it could be huge.”
He added, “This (chip) is quintessential Utah. One-hundred percent.”