Poor Tostitos. They’re like the pink Corvette of the Barbie world: oh, sure, little girls play with the Corvette all the time, but only when Barbie’s having a Thelma & Louise-esque adventure with her best friend Teresa or Barbie, Trichelle, Chandra, and Zahara (what is with these names?) are going on a shopping trip. Otherwise, the Corvette stays parked off to the side, lonely and forgotten. The only little girls who play with the Corvette alone are the ones that may grow up wearing flannel shirts and favoring mullets.
The point I’m trying to make here is that, while other Frito-Lay products like Doritos and Cheetos get flavor makeovers approximately once every six seconds, Tostitos remains stalwart in its commitment to be just a tortilla chip, a vessel for you to dunk into the ten different varieties of Tostitos-branded dips. Oh sure, there’s some variety â€“ you can get them round, multigrain, even with a hint of jalapeÃ±o or lime, but Tostitos will never coat your fingers with a thick layer of flavor dust.
However, Tostitos will be naked no more, thanks to their new line of Artisan Recipes. Somebody’s little brother stole the pink Corvette, and now it’s in a demolition derby with a Tonka backhoe and a monster truck named “The Crusher.” Good luck to you, pink Barbie Corvette.
Oh, right, we’re talking about chips, not reliving my childhood. The Artisan Recipes line only has two flavors for now: Fire-Roasted Chipotle and Roasted Garlic & Black Bean. I am assuming, depending on their level of success, that more flavors will be forthcoming.
I’ll let Frito-Lay’s press release do the explaining: “Tostitos Artisan Recipes offers tortilla chip fans an exciting new twist on this popular snack. Each flavor is made from high-quality whole-white corn and real ingredients like black beans, garlic and chipotle peppers that are baked in before cooking for a truly one-of-a-kind flavor.”
Ohhh, I get it now! The twist here is that the flavors are baked in. Tostitos is crashing the flavor party with an innovative idea â€“ flavorful chips without the messy fingers. Chips for grown-ups! Or, at least, chips for grown-ups who have enough dignity not to suck the inches of flavor dust off their fingers in public. I don’t fall into that category, but I’ll give these chips a try anyways.
Let’s start with the good: Artisan Recipe Tostitos have a great texture. They are thinner and more delicate than regular Tostitos, with a nice, light crunch as you chew them. The tortilla taste is also very pleasant; they taste a lot like regular Tostitos, but with more of a pronounced grain flavor. This is because, unlike regular Tostitos (I consider Restaurant Style to be the de facto standard Tostitos), Artisan Recipes have eight more grains besides the standard whole white corn. Some of those grains include whole rye, barley, and triticale. I had to look up exactly what triticale is. Apparently science wanted to make wheat and rye have a baby, and triticale was the result. I don’t know why this was something that needed to happen, but regardless, it did, and now it’s in my stomach.
All these grains smashed together make a tasty chip, but that’s also a problem â€“ where’s the chipotle? I had to get through chip number three before I could taste a bit of spice and feel any heat building up on the back of my tongue. I kept waiting for the smoky pepper flavor of chipotle to emerge, but it never did. Just a bit of spice and that little touch of heat at the end.
Artisan Recipes’ whole schtick is that the flavor is baked in, but there’s still flavor dust on the chips. It’s definitely more subtle than, say, a Nacho Cheese Dorito, but my fingers definitely had little red flecks on them along with the salt. I can’t call Tostitos a liar, because they never say outright that all the flavor is “baked in”, but they do fail to mention that it’s getting a little support from flavor dust. And yet, even with the backup, the chipotle flavor fails to come through, which is disappointing.
Roasted Garlic & Black Bean
Predictably, these have the same nice, delicate texture of the Fire-Roasted Chipotle, but unfortunately, they also have the same affliction: lack-of-flavoritis. Those big flecks must be the black bean that’s baked in, but in the ingredients list, they are dried black beans. How could that possibly bring in any flavor?
As for the roasted garlic, I managed to find approximately one out of every four chips that tasted like garlic powder. On some of these chips, you can actually see a faint orange powder, which is curious. In fact, maybe my mouth is just inventing flavors at this point in a desperate attempt at tasting something, but I got more of a really subtle cheese taste on the chips that didn’t taste like garlic powder. Even though I had to work to find the faintly garlic-flavored chips, when I did get one, I really enjoyed it.
I had high hopes for Artisan Recipes Tostitos. I was hoping to get some rich flavor from baked-in, authentic ingredients. And, honestly, if they hadn’t had such descriptive, delicious-sounding names, I would have given them high marks for being a light tortilla chip with a good crunch. I risk losing my Processed Foods Only membership card by saying this, but I found the addition of eight extra grains made for a more flavorful tortilla chip. Unfortunately, the chipotle lacked smokiness and had only a mild heat in regards to flavor, the black beans were sadly absent, and the garlic was hit-and-miss. That said, the subtlety of these flavors would add a little extra depth when dunked into a Tostitos-branded dip, but they shot themselves in the foot and made the chips too fragile to support most dips. Tostitos Artisan Recipes are great chips in both texture and tortilla/grain flavor, but don’t expect your taste buds to be lovingly caressed by chipotle, garlic, or black beans.
(Nutrition Facts â€“ 1 ounce â€“ Fire-Roasted Chipotle – 150 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of total fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 4.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 2.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of sugars, 2 grams of protein, 2% calcium, 2% iron, 2% thiamin, 2% riboflavin, 2% niacin, 2% vitamin B6, 6% phosphorus, 6% magnesium and 2% zinc. Roasted Garlic & Black Bean – 150 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of total fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 4.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 2.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of sugars, 2 grams of protein, 2% calcium, 2% iron, 2% thiamin, 8% riboflavin, 4% niacin, 4% vitamin B6, 4% phosphorus, 4% magnesium and 2% zinc.)
Item: Tostitos Artisan Recipes Tortilla Chips (Fire-Roasted Chipotle and Roasted Garlic & Black Bean)
Price: $3.49 and $2.49 (on sale, regularly $3.99)
Size: 9 Â¾ oz. bags
Purchased at: Fry’s Foods and Safeway
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Fire-Roasted Chipotle)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Roasted Garlic & Black Bean)
Pros: Good tortilla chip texture. Re-creating Thelma & Louise with Barbies. Lots of healthy, tasty grains. Demolition derbies. Garlic flavor on some chips was delicious. Chipotle delivered a little heat.
Cons: Chips didn’t live up to baked-in flavor promise. Little brothers stealing your Barbie Corvettes. Lack of smoky flavor in Fire-Roasted Chipotle. “Trichelle.” No black bean flavor.