BBQ story

The Journey to the Perfect Barbecue Flavor

For hundreds of years, barbecue has taken many shapes and flavors. 

Today, it’s a mainstay cuisine – from the barbecue belt in the U.S. with its four distinct styles (Carolina, Kansas City, Memphis and Texas), Indian barbecue cooked in a tandoor clay oven, satay barbecue in Malaysia, yakitori barbecue in Japan, churrasco barbecue in Brazil and more.

Frito-Lay first introduced a barbecue flavor on our Lay’s potato chip brand back in 1965. Since then, the barbecue varieties on our Lay’s and Ruffles products have been endless – from  Ruffles Smokehouse BBQ to  Lay’s Sweet Southern Heat Barbecue to Lay’s Kettle Cooked Mesquite Barbecue and Lay’s Wavy Hickory BBQ.

We’ve even introduced a reduced-sodium Lay’s barbecue flavor with 50 percent less sodium than Lay’s Classic potato chips for those looking for lower-sodium snack options.

What’s driving the introduction of all of these delicious barbecue varieties? For one thing, consumer interest in barbecue continues to be sky high. In the U.S. alone, barbecue sauce is a $2 billion industry, according to IBIS World.

Our tastes have also changed over the years, with many of us now looking for greater variety and more complex flavors that remind us of our favorite meals. Delivering those flavors requires the input of chefs. 

Frito-Lay Chefs: The Secret Sauce
At our Culinary Innovation Center, a team of research chefs work to develop new and interesting recipes that can inform future snacks flavors – whether it’s the latest barbecue option or something completely different. What we create is based off endless consumer research, oftentimes taking us to different locations around the country to gather ideas and input.

“Our research took us to barbecue competitions and festivals around the U.S.,” said Jody Denton, executive research chef at Frito-Lay. “Along the way, we spoke to pitmasters and other experts who were eager to share everything they knew. To be successful, we wanted to truly understand the various techniques and flavors that are used, which in turn inspired ideas in our own kitchen. It was a truly delicious assignment.”

Our Frito-Lay chefs work side-by-side with product developers to bring the final products to life. In this way, we are combining the strengths of culinary arts with food science to deliver for our fans. 

While it might seem quite simple to bring an interesting flavor to a potato chip, the reality is it’s a time-intensive process – one that’s focused on ensuring the final product truly represents the dish off of which it was based. It can take months to go from idea to final creation – especially when you’re trying to deliver a complicated barbecue flavor that can’t stray too far from the real deal. 

“To uphold a reputation like the one that Frito-Lay has, we want to ensure we bring through the right culinary experience,” Denton added.


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