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July 26th, 2004

We Take Our Chips Seriously

Ah, Chicago. Most Chicago foods are taken quite seriously – the deep dish pizza, the hot dog, and even the potato chip. Hometown brand Jays (no apostrophe) has been on the ropes for a few years now, but is emerging from bankruptcy. Jays is synonymous with Chicago potato chips.

It was a little surprising, then, when Frito-Lay started running a billboard saying that “Chicagoans prefer the taste of Lay’s over Jays.” In order to find the results of this stat, Jays sued. Oh, and, the billboard referenced an “unflavored” potato chip from Jays. Zing!

In the end, though, Jays beat Frito-Lay in round one as the judge in the case required Frito-Lay to take down its billboards, temporarily. The Frito Bandito claimed that they had a taste test set up in suburban Chicago malls, with an “unflavored” Jays and “classic” Lay’s. Well, sure, classic’s going to beat unflavored.

But the judge found that to be a bit too much to handle. He felt that the “unflavored” tag was setting Jays up to fail. Plus, Frito-Lay didn’t turn over all of their data proving that Jay’s was better.

My guess? They set up a booth at some random mall and five kids came over to try some chips. They chose Lay’s because they were out-of-towners.

But more than that, this case shows just how seriously Chicagoans take their food.

Posted in Food and Beverage

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