Published Thursday, July 17, 2014 | 10:01 a.m.
Updated Thursday, July 17, 2014 | 2:30 p.m.
UNLV lecturer Chad Scott found his muse in the coffee shops he frequented while working on several college degrees.
Now Scott is on the cusp of seeing his inspiration pay off in a big way.
Scott, who came to UNLV in January but is still working on his doctorate in sociology at Texas A&M University, is one of four finalists still competing for a $1 million grand prize in Lay’s second annual “Do Us A Flavor” potato chip contest.
His coffeehouse-inspired flavor: Cappuccino.
“As a graduate student and now a university faculty (member), I spent a lot of time reading and writing in coffee shops,” Scott said Wednesday on “Good Morning America,” where the finalists were announced. “So since I drink a lot of coffee, cappuccinos have became, like, something I really looked forward to.”
The other three finalists are Matt Allen, a firefighter from Troy, Ohio, who submitted Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese; Meneko Spigner McBeth, a registered nurse from Deptford, N.J., who submitted Wasabi Ginger; and Julia Stanley-Metz, a mother from Sacramento, Calif., who submitted Mango Salsa.
A spokesman for Frito-Lay said Scott was en route to Las Vegas today and unavailable for comment. Lay's plans a meet-and-greet event from about 11:15 a.m. until 2 p.m. July 29 at the Fremont Street Experience in which Scott will be recognized as a finalist and the Cappuccino chips will be available.
Frito-Lay says potato chips in the four flavors are expected to start hitting shelves in late July. Beginning July 28, people will be able to vote online for their favorite through Oct. 18.
The promotion is intended to boost customer engagement online and send fans to stores in search of the flavors.
But it also reflects how Frito-Lay is trying to keep up with changing tastes, with its ever-evolving lineup of potato chips now including several Hispanic flavors. Later this month, it also plans to roll out Lay's Stax chips in a Korean barbecue flavor and Lay's Stax in Thai Sweet Chili flavor.
That would make them the first Asian flavors of Lay's chips sold nationally in the United States, not counting the flavors it has introduced as part of the "Do Us a Flavor" contest. Last year, Cheesy Garlic Bread beat out Chicken & Waffles and Sriracha, a sauce commonly used in Thai cuisine.
"I can't imagine us 10 years ago doing a wasabi ginger flavor," said Ram Krishnan, Frito-Lay's senior vice president of brand marketing.
Despite the growing popularity of ethnic flavors, the top four Lay's flavors remain the same: Original, Barbecue, Cheddar & Sour Cream and Sour Cream & Onion.
Frito-Lay notes its cappuccino flavor doesn't contain any actual coffee or caffeine. The company last year discontinued a variety of Cracker Jack that contained caffeine after the Food and Drug Administration said it was concerned about the proliferation of caffeinated food and drinks. Frito-Lay says it halted production because of weak demand, rather than regulatory concerns.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.