By David Fong
Regional Sports Content Manager
TROY — Matt Allen has spent the past few years feeding his fellow firefighters — now he’s hoping to feed the world.
Allen, a 2009 Troy High School graduate, is one of four finalists in the Lay’s “Do Us A Flavor” potato chip competition. Allen’s suggested flavor for Lay’s new potato chip, Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese, is one of four selected from 23 million flavors suggested by 14.4 million applicants.
His idea for the Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese potato chip came from the meal he frequently prepares for his fellow firefighters. Currently, Allen serves as a firefighter for the city of Dayton, with previous stops in the Trotwood, Vandalia and Sugarcreek fire departments.
“It’s a good, staple meal,” Allen said. “It’s cheap and it’s easy to make.”
Allen’s wife, Dani, saw an advertisement for the “Do Us A Flavor” contest on Facebook and encouraged her husband to enter.
“It was a Facebook ad,” Allen said. “My wife told me about … it caught her eye. She told me I should enter. I had been making that at the firehouse for a couple of years. After I entered, I actually forgot about it. They sent me an email telling me I was a finalist, but I never check my email. They actually had to email my wife and tell her. We were pretty excited.”
Allen’s Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese flavor is one of four finalists from across the nation, joining Cappuccino, Wavy Mango Salsa and Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger. Should Allen’s flavor get the most votes, he’ll win a $1 million prize from Frito-Lay.
Fans of Allen’s flavor can vote in a number of ways: Visiting www.dousaflavor.com, texting BaconMac to 24477 or using the hashtag #savebaconmac on any post to the social media sites Twitter, Instagram or Vine.
“You don’t even have to post a picture of the chips when you use the hashtag,” Allen said. “You can post the hashtag on a picture of your dog or a beautiful sunset. Post (the hashtag) on anything you want.”
Voting is open now and closes Oct. 18. The $1 million winner will be announced “shortly after.”
Allen’s hometown is firmly in his corner. Several hundred family, friends and well-wishers gathered on the Troy Public Square Thursday in a show of support for Allen, as Troy Mayor Michael Beamsih declared it “Lay’s Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese Potato Chip Day” in Troy. Lay’s handed out thousands of bags of all four of the finalists’ chip flavors.
“My wife and I went to Meijer and they had a nice, beautiful display of all four entries,” Beamish said to the assembled crowd before presenting Allen with a mayoral proclamation. “We went looking for Matt’s flavor, our flavor, your flavor — but one spot was empty. Guess who sold out?”
Allen, a 1,000-yard rusher and team captain for the Troy High School football team as a senior, was joined by his wife, Dani, a captain of the cheerleading team in high school, and their infant son, Landon Thomas at the pep rally.
“I watched Matt grow up,” Beamish said. “I knew he always wanted to become a firefighter and he achieved that goal. Now, I sure want him to achieve this goal. I watched (Matt and Dani) on the athletic fields — this is a great chance for them.”
Thursday’s hometown pep rally was just the latest media event for Allen, who has been promoting his chip flavor both locally and nationally. He said it’s been a whirlwind few weeks since he’s found out he was a finalist, but he’s enjoyed every minute of it.
“It’s been fun,” he said. “I was nervous the first time, but I’m starting to like it.”
Allen said that — should he win — he and his wife already have plans for the $1 million prize.
“We’ve thought about it some,” he said. “We want to have our son’s college paid for, so he doesn’t have to worry about paying college loans. And our families have been so supportive, we’d like to take a family vacation.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong