Monica Watrous

Crispy taco, everything bagel with cream cheese, and fried green tomato are among the latest Lay’s potato chip varieties rolling out to stores nationwide later this month. The three flavors were pitched by consumers as part of PepsiCo’s “Do Us a Flavor” contest.

PepsiCo first launched the competition in the United States in 2012, resulting in the winning creation of Lay’s Cheesy Garlic Bread potato chips. The contest returned in 2014, featuring Lay’s Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger potato chips, and in 2015, with Lay’s Southern Biscuits and Gravy potato chips. Consumers may vote on-line for their favorite variety, and the winner receives $1 million. The campaign has been held in various markets around the world and earned the company a Grocery Manufacturers Association award in 2014 for innovation and creativity.


“After four contests, our fans continue to amaze us with their creativity and passion, which both clearly come through in this year’s flavors,” said Sarah Guzman, senior director of marketing for Frito-Lay. “Each of this year’s finalist flavors is a delicious expression of the dish and story that inspired it, and we’re looking forward to having America decide which one will come out on top.”

Similarly, Mondelez International recently introduced the “My Oreo Creation” contest, requesting submissions for the sandwich cookie brand’s next flavor and prompting such entries as cherry cola, kettle corn and bacon. The company will introduce three consumer-submitted flavors in stores next spring and summer. The creator of the top-voted variety will be awarded $500,000.


Ben & Jerry’s, a business unit of Unilever, allows consumers to submit ideas for ice cream flavors on its web site. The brand credits its fans for the creation of its iconic Cherry Garcia and Chubby Hubby varieties.

In addition to building brand buzz, a company may collect valuable insights and data from its most loyal consumers through this type of collaboration. A business may also generate additional sales by encouraging shoppers to purchase each flavor to vote for a favorite.


Mars Chocolate North America saw success from its M&M’s Flavor Vote promotion last year, which pitted the Original Peanut M&M’s candies against three new limited-edition varieties: Chili Nut, Honey Nut and Coffee Nut. The promotion was designed specifically for millennials, who seek to collaborate with brand manufacturers on new products and are four times more likely than other consumer demographics to share opinions on social media, according to Mars.

“It’s just a fun thing to do and a good way to get consumers to interact with your brand in fun, new ways and get them engaged,” Tim Quinn, vice-president of trade relations at Mars Chocolate North America, told Food Business News.

As longstanding brands continue to struggle for share in the marketplace, expect to see more over-the-top flavor innovation and consumer collaboration.