We tried Lay’s new Cuban sandwich chips — and Publix’s Cuban sandwich dip

Here’s what we thought.
Lay's new Cuban sandwich potato chips.
Lay's new Cuban sandwich potato chips. [ MICHELLE STARK | Times ]
Published May 9, 2023|Updated May 12, 2023

Potato chip company Lay’s just rolled out three new limited-edition flavors for the summer: BLT Sandwich, Baked Lay’s Buffalo Chicken Sandwich and, most importantly for us here in Tampa Bay, Wavy Cuban Sandwich.

We had to try the Cuban sandwich-inspired chips. And, coincidentally, we recently found Publix’s limited-edition Cuban-Style Sandwich Dip in St. Petersburg.

Publix's Cuban-Style Sandwich Dip is limited edition.
Publix's Cuban-Style Sandwich Dip is limited edition. [ MAGGIE DUFFY | Times ]

Floridians take their Cuban sandwiches seriously — so much so that Tampa Bay Times reporter Christopher Spata invented the National Cuban Sandwich Day — so we were definitely curious how these would measure up.

It says “Miami inspired” on the Lay’s chips package, which would indicate a difference from our beloved Tampa Cuban sandwiches. Both city’s versions have sweet ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, dill pickles and mustard, but Tampa’s Cuban also has salami.

As Times book editor Colette Bancroft explained, “the biggest flashpoints in discussions about Tampa vs. Miami sandwiches include the absence of salami or pickles and the presence of (shudder) lettuce and tomato, as well as the difference between the breads baked in each city.”

The Publix dip’s label says “made with sweet ham, pickles, Spanish brand pork roast, and Swiss cheese,” and it has Neufchatel cheese and mustard in the ingredient list. It claims no allegiance to either style; Publix has stores in both cities, after all.

We had a newsroom taste test, serving the dip hot and cold with the Cuban chips and also with Pretzel Crisps.

Here are our reactions.

“I was initially horrified at the idea of the dip, especially served hot, but it was delicious that way. The chips were a bit bland but they finished with a mustard-pickle flavor true to the sandwich. I didn’t taste any meat, which would have been kind of gross for a chip.”

— Maggie Duffy, arts and dining writer

“The chip reminded me of a sour cream and onion chip with a hint of mustard. The dip, especially when warmed up, was a little closer to the Cuban flavor profile. But when you dip a Cuban chip into the Cuban dip, then I felt like it had the total sandwich flavor in one bite. Maybe it’s because the potato chip itself gives you the toasted bread that is so crucial to a Cuban.”

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, events, travel and family reporter

“I love a good Cuban sandwich and didn’t think I would like the dip. Gotta say, this would be good with a cold beer. Pickle flavor not overpowering, and (the dip) is better warmed up.”

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— Kirk Simpkins, newsroom services

Times data reporter Ian Hodgson is vegetarian, so he didn’t try the dip and has never had a Cuban sandwich. He said he was happily surprised that the chips were vegetarian.

“They tasted just like dill pickle chips, which are huge in Canada but don’t seem to exist down here. Every road trip or summer cabin vacation in Canada is accompanied by a pack of dill pickle chips. I’d buy them again just for the hit of nostalgia.”

— Ian Hodgson, data reporter

“The chips on their own? Surprisingly good. The dip on its own? All the flavors of a Cuban sandwich on one tiny spoon. But the Cuban dip on a Cuban chip? Now we’re talking.

— Max Chesnes, environment reporter