The Biggest Scam in the History of the Flavored Corn-Tortilla Chips Industry

Densen post

I was hoping my first post on Food/Dining would cover a topic that is new and exciting to those not engrossed in the world of ‘foodies’ like myself. However, I have no desire to write about the antioxidant powers of the Goji berry (it’s the new pomegranate apparently, whatever that means), but instead find myself hung up on Doritos. I have discovered the secret to Doritos supremacy in the flavored corn-tortilla chip kingdom, and it’s not that they’re the only ones in said kingdom. It’s not their catchy, spicy, Spanish-sounding name either. They have achieved dominance by making only two kinds of chips, but packaging and selling those flavors under dozens of different names for decades.

Let me break down their brilliance for you. In the beginning, Doritos’ Genesis if you will, there were Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch. Then some genius in a marketing meeting said “Hey, we need to grow this brand, so let’s make Nacho Cheesier and Cooler Ranch instead of, uh… Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch”. Well, that only worked for a little while, but the Pandora’s box of giving new names to the same original two flavors had been opened and there was no going back.


From the two grandfather flavors, Doritos has birthed an army of bastard child variations whose enticing names seem to promise a meal’s worth of flavors. I remember the first time I was hoodwinked. A few summers ago, I went on a fly-fishing trip to upstate New York with my friend Chris. We stayed out on the water very late, and had eaten little all day as we’d spent the whole time hiking stream to stream. Starving, and with no other options due to the late hours and our location in very rural New York, we begrudgingly headed into a gas station mart to get a late dinner. After a few minutes of searching, and with hope of finding something tasty quickly fading, I looked up to see a shiny black beacon of goodness, a bag of Black Pepper Jack Doritos. I had never heard of these, which only fed my excitement. I love black pepper! I love Jack cheese! My heart thumped to a crescendo as I realized how spicy and cheesy deliciousness would soon be colliding in my woefully empty stomach. My hands trembled as I pried the bag open and tore into the golden triangles, feeling like I had the whole world at my feet. That feeling lasted for .7 seconds. I turned to Chris after my first handful and said, “Dude, these are just Nacho Cheese Doritos”, to which he replied “Wait, there must be some mistake.” No, Chris, there was no mistake, just cold, calculated marketing brilliance.

I realize that my theory may come across as hard to believe, but I have supporting evidence: the Doritos flavors list. If a chip is cheesy with a little heat, it falls into the Nacho family. These flavors include Nacho Chees(ier), Wild White Nacho, Spicy Nacho, Taco, Fiery Habanero, Black Pepper Jack, and Smokin Cheddar BBQ. Is there really a difference between any of the THREE types of ‘Nacho’ Doritos and the ‘Taco’ flavor, much less a difference between the three variations on Nacho? Not all Doritos fall into this category. If a chip is creamy with some added spice (flavor, not necessarily heat), it falls into the Ranch family. Cool(er) Ranch, Ranchero, Salsa Verde, and Blazin Buffalo & Ranch all fit the bill here. I think that Doritos is getting a little too forward with this strategy with their latest creation, Collisions, which combines two flavors in one bag. The flavors are Zesty Taco (clearly of Nacho lineage) and Chipotle Ranch (of Ranch lineage). What was Frito-Lay thinking; let’s not put all our eggs in one basket gentleman. Doritos fans can now just purchase one bag, and get both grandfather flavors, which is a big step back for Doritos.


Of course, not literally ALL flavors of Doritos fall into the two categories. I mean, haven’t you ever heard of Guacamole, Smokey Red BBQ, or Pizza Cravers Doritos? Of course you haven’t, because they’re all long discontinued flavors. One’s immediate reaction to such a list of discontinued flavors would likely be that the flavors were yanked because they were neither very good nor popular. Not true my friends. Guacamole was once a favorite flavor of mine, and it was often not in stock at my local 7-11 (the Mecca of Doritos) due to its rampant popularity. Guacamole got axed, like many flavors before it, because it is not a derivative of one of the grandfather flavors. Unique flavors are more expensive, so Guacamole had to say ‘Adios’.

Somewhere, in a corner office at Frito-Lay headquarters, there is a team of two guys whose job it is to create the new flavors for Doritos. One guy’s job is to sit there and think of a new permutation of either Nacho or Ranch tortilla chips. The others guy’s job is to just sit there and laugh at how stupid the stoners and fat kids are for buying the bags of the newest flavor, say Smokin’ Cheddar BBQ, and actually expecting to get something that tastes different than every other bag of Doritos. Well laugh away my man, because I’m just waiting for someone from Fox News to read this fucking post and totally bust your ass for the biggest scam in the history of the flavored corn-tortilla chips industry.

– Densen

Published in: on September 16, 2007 at 9:38 pm  Comments (24)  
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24 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. randomly stumbled across this post while searching for the “history of doritos”… even the wikipedia article (which normally satisfies my thirst for knowledge) came up short.

    i think you definitely have a really good point about a lot of the flavors tasting like the original two, and marketing playing a strong role in doritos’ continued success. guacamole was indeed a good flavor, but cool ranch will always be my favorite.

    do you happen to remember back in the mid-late 80s, the yellow bag? the “corn” flavored doritos? they were the original “third option”. i dont really remember very well, but im sure this was not a dream. i have to assume they were basically “corn chips” that ultimately gave way to Tostitos brand, also a Frito-Lay food.

    snack on,

  2. Eric,

    As an avid wikipedia-ite myself, I’m sorry their article didn’t satisfy you knowledge munchies, although I’m glad you came across my article. The truth is, you have unearthed one of the dark secrets of Doritos, the original second flavor. It was just Corn and Nacho Cheese for a time until Cool Ranch came along, if my memory serves me right (which it probably doesn’t), in 1981. Corn quietly exited soon after, although I’ve heard reports that it has resurfaced of late, and in similarly colored yellow packaging to boot. I’ll look into that, but more importantly, I’ll be scouring eBay for ‘vintage’ bags of Cooler Ranch Doritos (1997 is a good year if you can find them). Because while all flavors of Doritos taste the same, I swear those Cooler Ranch were just a little bit cooler.

    Densen (written under Rich’s avatar because I’m at his computer and too lazy to log into mine)

    PS: Look for a long awaited new post from me, this time on everyone’s favorite, beer and wine.

  3. so that’s what happened to guacamole doritos…my kids and i loved those doritos…i cannot believe they stopped making them…

  4. Wow. Quite possibly the only academic article written on the tastes of Doritos. I must agree with you about those so called flavors. I haven’t eaten doritos since high school, but I’m sure they haven’t changed all that much since.

  5. I had to give up the dorito when I became a certified foodie but I couldn’t agree more with the analysis of this marketing ploy. They are all the same, and the sweet chili/spicy (purple bag) is perhaps the worst offender. Nacho is both sweet and spicy!

    Bring back the retro bags and I’ll each Doritos again, till then…marinated artichokes?

  6. Well, now you’ve done it. You’ve broken through the well-guarded gates of the Tortilla Chip Snack Conspiracy – expect to find some random former-expatriate/current Mariachi band/federale commando group knocking at your door early in the morning. Expect to wake up in a dark, dank Mexican jail. Don’t ever expect to see the light of day or indulge in your damn Dorito fiesta fantasy ever again, gringo.

    Honestly, though, I’d have to utterly disagree. There’s far more to the wonders of Doritos than being able to break all the various flavors (over the years, or currently?) into derivatives of 2 distinct flavor schools. You are missing out on all the taste bud fun all for the sake of being a tortilla chip naysayer.

    I’d be half-baked to NOT assume you aren’t working for the Bimbo Bakery tortilla factory or maybe you are some disgruntled former Frito-Lay employee…


  7. Scotty,

    I promised in my 1st post that I would engage in intelligent discourse with posters, but would rail the ignants and those who dare add nothing to my sacred scribings. While your post is very funny, you aren’t saying anything…at all. It’s one thing to disagree, it’s another tho provide a reason, literally any at all, for the disagreement. You don’t. So, for argumentation’s sake, I encourage you to write back with the reasons that cause you to disagree, so I can completely rip them apart like a sleep-deprived rabid grizzly bear on crack. Until then, I’ll leave y’all with a favorite quote of mine from the epic film ‘Eurotrip’: Scotty doesn’t know!


    PS-The threat of Mexican jail scares me not. The only thing easier than getting one’s gringo ass thrown into Mexican jail is bribing your way back out…so I hear.

  8. Hey Happy Densen.

    You threw a little funny in there as well, so as expected and I presume, hoped, I will respond in part, with as little acrimony as possible. Incidentally, as this entire “debate” is based upon circumstantial opinions, I didn’t see any hard evidence on your part. My take and post was not to debunk you, it was to provide humor to and already humorous thread. While there is probably some truth (truthiness? lol) to your conspiratorial take, I’d be willing to be there’s more than just a semantic, advertising difference between the random Dorito flavors.

    Here’s my reason I disagree and this is saying something.

    ALL of the flavors DO taste different. Now of course it’s a matter of degree and subjective opinion for each individual, but right there, that’s enough for me. And as Doritos are the one snack I partake in semi-regularly (as opposed to crack cocaine, Pepsi products – yuck, or Betty Crocker tire maker) I think that’s enough reason there to form the basis for my opinion. Now how you can rip apart an opinion on a purely speculative semi op-ed post is news to me, but take your best college try… I’ve got my best flame retardant hawaiian shirt on.

    I may not know for a fact, but I don’t think you do either, and I mean that with all respect and with the best of intentions! 😉

    PS: Points subtracted for you mentioning “Eurotrip” the movie in your response post. Thats an automatic disqualifier on many other forums, even requires excommunication from some religious institutions just for mentioning that cinematic watermark film.

  9. Sorry dude but Ranch came later. Before ranch there was Taco flavored Doritos and they were good, damn good. Then they changed them, and they were still good, but not as good. Then they went away, came back again in an even suckier version, and went away again. Then they came back as Taco Bell Taco Doritos and they weren’t bad, but they never have been able to make them as good as the original. Must have been some ingredient they can’t use anymore, like red dye # 2 or something lead based. You know back before they knew or cared about chemicals from “super elastic bubble plastic” and “creepy crawlies” slowly killing brain cells.

    Wow did I go out on a tangent, I think I’m going to take a nap now, and dream of taco Doritos. Not those crapy ones they sell now. The original ones…before there was ranch…..

  10. Late 1960’s there were Original, taco and nacho.
    You young punks don’t know what you’re talking about.
    Right now Taco is back in stores

  11. Witman,

    Your memory is quasi-correct, my man. Original, surprisingly, was the original, and taco came out because consumer testing found that original didn’t have the ‘mexican spice’ people claimed to be looking for in a chip named Doritos. Nacho took some years to come out, not until the early 70’s. They were the first three flavor, but original didn’t even come out til 67, and Nacho was a child of the 70s.

    1. Yes, Taco is back, and while it is still a “Nacho” grandfather flavor, it is dammmmmmmmn good. Almost good enough for me to forgive Doritos for their abusive strategery over the years. Almost.
    2. If you google any combo of ‘doritos’ and ‘history’, this post is #2! And I didn’t even do any SEO. I am announcing a campaign to make this number 1, which is a big task as #1 is, of course, the Wikipedia article on Doritos. My friends, link this article to everything you can, and help me take down wikipedia so the REAL Doritos history can be known to all.

  12. why you sir, are an infantile poo poo head, whose taste buds have been severly dulled from all the pee pee you have been sucking.

    my reguards,
    Lord Xenu

  13. Lord Xenu, i concure

    frankly, to utter the words that you have uttered against doritos putts all dorito eaters to say you have tasted a dorito and spoke blasphemy against it is a travacy against all chipdom and is popsterous…did you kiss your mother with that filth mother.

    yours truely,
    Perp Elle Drank

  14. perp, xenu, i have to agree with the both of you.
    clearly this man has slanderded the dorito name, is a a doo doo face who had take many a wee wee to his noggin. everybody knows dast dorito chip is uten cheesire than das taco nahcho, ja?

    as master ignignod once said “stop, ya’ll already disqualified”

    praise Lord MUKTUK!!!!

  15. I must agree with Xenu on this one, and i would otherwise agree with Perp were it not for his atrocious spelling. Obviously what is going on here is that yall sum hatas!!! word up yall nukklehedz just talkin up sum smack on them doritos boiz and yall aint even makin no chips!! Wats up wit that, yall cant just hate on dem for makin only 2 flavaz of chips. Thats like a alarm clock yall already gots a disqualified wristwatch! word, besides thats 2 more flavors of chips then yall makin.
    And so I have reached my conclusion, the real perpetrators of the supposed Dorito “dual flavor fraud” are the consumers who continuously purchase and thus condone the masking and marketing of 2 simple flavors uder the guise of real flavor choice.
    Esto es el programa; Tu Madre!

  16. I enjoyed your article until the end when you chose to use profanity. That took away any and all merit towards your article.

  17. Have you tried the new “mystery flavor” of doritos?

    If you haven’t, and you live in Canada… go into any gas station or convenient store and pick a faceless white bag of doritos and try them. Everything this blog entry alleges was confimred when I tired those chips.

    I think the flavor is wack. I think everyone will agree that the marketing campaign for this product is absolutely fantastic, and the advertisers/ PR firms are doing a great job of promoting this campaign.

    HOWEVER, the fact that the so-called “mystery flavor” is sooooooo incredibly similar to the regular nacho cheese flavor is so disappointing to me that my negative emotions associated with the poor choice in chip taste rival my positive emotions and excitement about the contest.

    So I’m left with mixed feelings about the whole thing. The regular nacho cheese chip flavor doesn’t inspire the kind of creativity that I think the Frito-Lay people want to elicit from their minions.

    OR… perhaps it’s all a huge conspiracy! Think about it… the Doritos brand keeps reinventing itself every few years under new monikers, but always retaining their two essential flavors; nacho cheese and cool ranch. Maybe… Just maybe… this contest is designed to increase the visibility of the Doritos brand in the collective conscious of the public (obviously), but here’s the catch… they pitch this to the public as a chance to make a lot of money with the $25,000 dollar prize and 1% of future sales, knowing full gaddamn well that the uninspired new flavor will lead to marginal future sales so that they can discontinue the new mystery flavor and not have to pay out all that much more to the winner of this contest. So they really only invest 25K plus another 25-30K to the winner… however, the only thing people will remember about Doritos for the next few (possibly five) years is, “hey, remember when Doritos did that really cool mystery flavor contest? That was cool.”

    The flavor is literally just nacho cheese, plus maybe a bit of cayenne pepper powder. Lame


  18. @Franco

    I believe you are referencing the mystery flavor that ended up being white cheddar. I may be wrong, but the white bag thing leads me to that conclusion.

    The newest “mystery” flavor was allegedly mountain dew flavored. Go figure.

  19. ya’ll suck hard doritos!!!

  20. and you take it hard

  21. greg (00:24:04) : edit

    hey thanks for ripping off a post from our blog asshole!

    haha..good one, uh, greg. too bad you made 2 incorrect assumptions with your idiotic comment.
    #1 – that we read your blog.
    #2 – that your thoughts on doritos are original.
    oh well, keep reading our blog (! sorry we can’t do the same for you…

  22. I came accross this page when I googled smokey red bbq doritos. They were my favorite. I wish they would be brought back!

  23. BUSTED!!!! Good post.

  24. Ok… I find this article to be hilariously true, which I had never realized until today. However, I still have to give credit where credit is due. Sweet Chili Heat is the BEST chip I have ever had the ecstasy of consuming. I guess everynoe has to get something right at some point… and they are still on the shelf today!

    … Thanks for the article.

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