Fittest loser
Article updated: 2/22/2013 4:39 PM

Chip recipe could be $1 million winner for Lake Zurich man

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Lake Zurich's Tyler Raineri has at least a million reasons why he hopes you'll like his idea for a flavored Lay's potato chip.

Raineri's sriracha chip is one of three finalists in a nationwide contest that attracted 3.8 million submissions for new Lay's flavors. His creation is matched up in the finals against cheesy garlic bread chips, and chicken and waffles chips.

Lay's will give the contest winner $1 million or 1 percent of the chip's 2013 net sales, whichever is higher. The runners-up will receive $50,000 apiece.

Raineri said inspiration for the sriracha chip came from his grandmother. She sprinkled the Asian-style hot sauce on homemade potato chips, which is something Raineri said he continues to do with his housemates at Illinois State University.

"I'm kind of getting known as the potato chip guy," said Raineri, 21, a construction management major who typically uses sriracha on pasta dishes.

Chef Michael Symon and actress Eva Longoria were part of a panel that winnowed the flavor submissions to the final three now available in stores. Before meeting the celebrities, Raineri said he bought a Symon cookbook so the chef could autograph it. He was encouraged when he noticed recipes in Symon's book that use sriracha.

While the contestants were allowed to submit three ingredients, Raineri's creation is just sriracha and salt. He also entered smoked chipotle cheddar and garlic hummus flavor chips in the contest.

Raineri's mother, Laura, said her son likes to get into the kitchen and cook with spices. She said she's tasted the sriracha chip and enjoyed how the spiciness built up.

"I'm a little partial, but I believe the (sriracha) chip is fabulous," Laura Raineri said. "It has the right amount of spice."

Creative potato chip flavors may be increasing in the United States, but they have long been part of the United Kingdom's food scene. Popular British brand Walkers has crisps in flavors including roast chicken, prawn cocktail, pickled onion and barbecued rib.

Votes for the winning chip can be submitted over Twitter and Facebook, or by text messaging VOTE to CHIPS (24477). The voting continues until May 4.

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