Even a Potato Chip Can Hurt You

Below is an actual letter that I sent to Frito Lay and their subsequent response:

Dear Frito-Lay,

For many years I have been on a quest, a quest to find a potato chip whose flavor is true to its name. For many years now, I have been severely disappointed. However, today as I was shopping at my local Giant Eagle, I was careless as I allowed my hopes to soar to a new height. There in the potato chip aisle before my eyes was a bag of Molten Hot Wings Flavored Ruffles! I clutched the bag in my hands as I thought, ‘This might be it! This might be the bag of chips I have been searching for!’ I threw the chips into my cart and raced for the checkout counter. I still had other items to purchase but my heart was beating with such vigorous excitement that I simply had to fulfill its desire.

As I thrust open the door to my house, I flung the groceries on the table and reached for what, I had hoped was, the Holy Grail of the potato chip world. I opened the bag with a tenderness which I have not shown in years. I allowed the aroma of the chips to waft over me. As the smell penetrated my nose I began to feel like Pavlov’s Dog. Every gland in my mouth began to salivate with the expectations of a dream come true. As I raised the delicacy to my mouth, I began to picture C.E. Doolin and Herman W. Lay (the founders of Frito Lay) standing over my shoulder looking on approvingly. This was their vision. This was the dream of two entrepreneurs.

I found your chips to be, quite possibly, the largest disappointment in my life.  The description on the bag and the description in my mouth were at direct odds with one another.  Molten Hot?  Not even close.  I would say lukewarm, at best.  You encouraged me to imagine “Wings, dripping with sauce and ready to wash down with your favorite beverage.”  The taste of your chip encouraged me to imagine wings that wouldn’t know hot sauce if they took a bath in it.

I tried to improve the situation by placing the chips on a plate with celery and carrot sticks.  All this did was cause me to feel an even deeper disappointment than I already felt. Now, not only did the chips pale in comparison to the real thing, but my heart also paled in comparison to the hopeful heart which I had felt only moments before.

Please do not be so careless in the future to encourage your customers to “Dream big” when you know that their hopes will be severely dashed.  As a corporation in these fine United States of America, you have a moral obligation to be honest to the American consumer.

Please consider revising either your recipe or your packaging before your web of deceit takes you, and your company, the way of Enron.


Erin Elise

I mailed this letter to the CEO of the company a few months back and received no reply, how upsetting. Last week I decided to send it again, via the “Comment” section of their website.  Within two days I received the following reply:

Hi Erin,

Thank you for contacting Frito-Lay with your feedback about Ruffles Molten Hot Wings.

We’re sorry this snack was not what you expected–and your comments will be shared with our Marketing and Product Development teams. We’re also sending a coupon to you that should arrive in about a week.

Your satisfaction is the key to our success and we thank you for choosing a Frito-Lay snack.

We hope all of your future purchases are completely satisfying and great-tasting.

Best regards,
Natalia Frito-Lay Consumer Relations

To be fair, I don’t know Natalia.  This may be me profiling but I picture her as a tall, unimaginably sexy Russian woman whose wardrobe consists entirely of all black clothes that appear to make love to her body as she wears them.  I imagine her reading my email and thinking, ‘Ha!  Stoopid little pudgy American girl.  She is upset because her after school snack is not tasty treat she hoped for.  In Russia, ve get bread and ve get vodka and ve are happy for it!  I vill send her coupon for more potato chips to make her even more pudgy and less attractive to Russian men!”

I mean, it’s not like I expected a hand written apology letter.  It would have been nice though if Natalia had invested even a fraction of the time in her response that I put into my complaint.  I understand though.  She is probably too busy being sexy and smacking a riding crop against her palm to intimidate the middle aged men in her office.  So I will simply accept my coupon graciously and begin planning a Potato Chip Party, sponsored by Frito Lay.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. theroommom
    Aug 06, 2012 @ 16:30:05

    I am a big fan of the angry letter and there is nothing more satisfying than getting a personal response; it rarely happens. My most successful angry letter went to UPS. A VP at the corporate letter called me the morning after my angry e-mail went out. My biggest failure was a complaint I had with Huggies diapers. I got a cut and paste reply from “service agent 34736” promising coupons that never arrived. I never bought Huggies again, but I do use UPS.


  2. theroommom
    Aug 06, 2012 @ 16:31:06

    Meant to say “at their corporate office”


  3. gratuitouslyyours
    Aug 06, 2012 @ 17:59:25

    This is awesome! “I opened the bag with a tenderness which I have not shown in years” – this line literally made me laugh out loud. Erin, it’s such a treat to read your writing every day.


  4. gratuitouslyyours
    Aug 06, 2012 @ 17:59:39

    That was Jamie making the last comment, btw.


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