In an effort at transparency, Frito-Lay is laying its chips on the square — New York’s Times Square, that is.
The ubiquitous chip-maker today launched its Flavor Kitchen interactive experience some 22 stories high in the Big Apple’s heart, broadcasting from jumbo screens on the Thomson Reuters Building across from the Hard Rock Cafe.
Natural ingredients are the star as the Frito-Lay Flavor Kitchen launches today and broadcasts through Friday, not only live in Times Square but on the Frito-Lay Facebook page.
The physical Flavor Kitchen is located in the company’s Plano, Texas headquarters, which serves as the hub of culinary inspiration for Frito-Lay and the epicenter of the brand's promise to make 50% of its product portfolio with all-natural ingredients by year’s end.
“Now more than ever, consumers want to know where the foods they love come from and how they are made,” stated Ann Mukherjee, SVP and CMO of Frito-Lay. “What better way to share the story behind Frito-Lay snacks than by giving consumers a look inside our Flavor Kitchen to see first-hand the all natural ingredients and real foods that inspire the products we make.”
Celebrity chefs include Padma Lakshmi, author and Emmy-nominated host of Bravo's Top Chef, joined Frito-Lay’s executive chef Stephen Kalil to kick-off the week’s demonstrations.
Other guests include Michael Psilakis, the chef/owner of Kefi in New York and Eos in Miami and a judge on Food Network’s Ultimate Recipe Showdown; Jet Tila, executive chef at Wazuzu in Las Vegas; and Colombe Jacobsen, a natural-foods chef and former contestant, The Next Food Network Star.
As the New York Times notes, The Flavor Kitchen is fitted with Electrolux kitchen appliances, and fans who “like” the Frito-Lay Facebook page by Friday will be entered in a sweepstakes to win an appliance each day, with a grand prize of a whole suite of the premium appliances.
Other consumer-facing elements include web content; QR codes in print ads; in-store promotional displays that unlock recipes, videos and smartphone links; on-pack barcodes with smartphones that allows consumers to view a Seed to Shelf mini-documentary and nutritional information; and a Zynga FarmVille integration that invites players to harvest Frito-Lay sponsored in-game crops in exchange for virtual goods.
Three new chip flavors make their debut this week: Tostitos Hint of Jalapeno, SunChips Jalapeno Jack and Tostitos Hint of Pepper Jack.
Why all the effort to bring a kitchen from Plano to NYC?
"We were surprised to learn that customers thought our products were made in science labs. We wanted to show that our chip flavors are made by real chefs and inspired by real recipes in an actual test kitchen," says Ram Krishnan, director of marketing at Frito-Lay.
Guilt-free, healthy eating in the heart of Times Square's pizza joints and fast-food eateries? The sky must surely be falling!