The responses they received suggested that the modern potato chip eater is looking for something a little racier than the norm of salt and vinegar or sea salt.
The company received 16 000 responses from its customers, whose ideas for a new flavor of chips ranged from the savoury options of Chili Cheese Dog, Fish Oil & Garlic, Beef Stick and Broccoli, to sugary ranges like Bubble Gum, Cotton Candy and Peppermint.
However, these were all rejected in favor of Chai ("more sweet than savory"), Cheddar Beer ("tangy cheese and malty beer", Moroccan Curry (a "buttery chip" that combines "cool mint and yogurt flavors" , Spicy Thai that "balances sweet and hot flavors with its chili, ginger, lime, and honey notes" and Strawberry Cream. The latter sounds odd, but Kettle Chips assures would-be doubters that the "blend of sweet, tart and salty flavors complement the potato chip and actually taste great."
These five have been turned into bags of chips and tested by Kettle Chips' employees; consumers can now vote for their favorite online. The winning flavor will be decided by 31 March and should go into production later this year.
"Inviting consumers to vote for their favorite is a great way for us to tap into flavor trends," said Carolyn Richards, chief flavor architect of Kettle Foods. "Every year we get hundreds of passionate letters from people totally devoted to a particular flavor or enamored with the idea of a new one."
Jim Green, a spokesperson for Kettle Foods told FoodNavigatorUSA.com that they had chosen these five flavors, "because we felt they were interesting and unique".
And, as for the unusual choice of Strawberry Cream, Green said: "We have found sweet flavors to work very well, complimenting the rich potato taste that comes from the naturally high sugar potatoes we use." He added that one of the companies most popular flavors is Honey Dijon, "which is quite sweet and has been in our line since 1997".
In October 2004, market analysts Mintel issued a report that highlighted a day in the life of the global consumer, pointing out the weird and wonderful foods available around the world, such as collagen soup, banana mayonnaise and green tea cereal
Included in the report were some other wacky potato chip ideas, namely Procter & Gamble's Pringle Prints recently launched in the US, which have jokes and trivia questions printed directly on the crisps themselves.