Turlock native Chad Scott has lost his bid to become America’s latest taste maker and along with it his hopes for the million dollar prize.
Scott was the creator of Lay’s Cappuccino, which was one of the four finalists in the Lay’s Do Us A Flavor contest, but sadly for Scott, not the winning flavor.
Frito-Lay says Wasabi Ginger won its contest that gives people a chance to create a new flavor, beating out the coffee-flavored chips and the two other finalists — Mango Salsa and Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese. Parent company PepsiCo Inc. says about 1 million total votes were cast online for the Do Us A Flavor promotion, a sales driver it has launched in more than a dozen countries.
In the U.S., bags of the four finalist flavors hit shelves in late July and people were able to vote on Facebook and Twitter for their favorites through this past weekend. It was the second year for the U.S. contest, which is designed to send customers to stores in search of the flavors. Last year's winner, Cheesy Garlic Bread, is still on shelves.
Scott’s entry was chosen for one of the final four spots from the more than 14 million entries received by Frito-Lay.
The idea for the cappuccino chip came to Scott while, naturally of course, he was sitting in a coffee shop. While working on his doctorate in Sociology from Texas A&M University, Scott said he “practically lived in coffee shops” and that once a day he would treat himself to a steaming, frothy cup of cappuccino.
“It was my ‘Ah’ moment each day that would put a smile on my face,” Scott said.
So, when Scott learned about the chip contest, it seemed a perfect avenue to for his favorite treat. The Lay’s Cappuccino chip mixed savory with a hint of sweet from the raw sugar Scott said he likes to add to his cappuccinos. He describes it as having a bold and creamy flavor with just a hint of cinnamon. The chip however, unlike the liquid form, does not contain caffeine.
Scott said the reactions to his creation ranged from one end of the spectrum to the other, with some proclaiming him a genius and others calling him a devil for his uncommon creation.
The winner, Meneko Spigner McBeth, was informed at a dinner for finalists Monday night in New York City. McBeth, a registered nurse from Deptford, New Jersey, will get $1 million or a set percentage of a year in sales, whichever figure is larger.
Ram Krishnan, Frito-Lay's chief marketing officer, said this year's winner is evidence Americans want more ethnic flavors, even though the top four Lay's flavors remain Original, Barbecue, Cheddar & Sour Cream and Sour Cream & Onion. He said he couldn't have imagined Lay's selling a Wasabi Ginger flavor when he joined the company eight years ago.
"We're kind of getting into a new flavor territory," Krishnan said. "When I went to school, Mexican food was exotic."
The contest began in the United Kingdom, where Frito-Lay sells chips under the Walkers brand. Since then, it was launched in 14 countries before coming to the U.S. last year. Winning flavors in other countries include Pizza in Saudi Arabia, Shrimp in Egypt, Sunday Roast in New Zealand, Pickled Cucumber in Serbia and Aline's Caesar Salad in Australia.
Given its success, Krishnan said the company is looking to launch the contest in other countries as well.
Krishnan wouldn't specify how much of a sales lift the contest provides. But in the latest quarter that ended Sept. 6, PepsiCo, based in Purchase, New York, said revenue for its Frito-Lay North America division rose 3 percent, reflecting a 2 percent gain in volume and 1 percent gain from higher prices.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.