REVIEW: Bacon Cheddar Ranch Doritos Jacked 3D

Bacon Cheddar Ranch Doritos Jacked 3D

*A scene from Doritos headquarters*

“Okay, boys. After years of dark magic, Ouija boards, and one ill-fated incident involving a cheese-toothpaste hybrid, we’ve finally crafted the perfect recipe for appealing to the “Xtreme” chip market:

Bacon – the cornerstone of annoying Internet food memes

Cheddar – the preferred finger coating of Cheetos-loving gamers everywhere

Ranch – because nothing evokes the rough-and-tumble, Chuck Norris-esque aesthetic of cow ranchers like ranch dressing”

And with that, Bacon Cheddar Ranch Doritos Jacked 3D (I need a breather just writing that name) were born. If the Powerpuff Girls were made from Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice, then these must be the Powerpuff Girls’ 25-year-old brother who plays World of Warcraft in their parents’ basement.

Bacon Cheddar Ranch Doritos Jacked 3D 2

But I won’t judge these on the stereotypical nature of their ingredients alone. Opening the bag and huffing deeply, a corn scent predominates, with a little edgy cheesiness that tickles my nostrils.

Like a paleontologist discovering the elusive Doritosaurus, I extract one of the bizarrely shaped artifacts. It looks like a symbol straight out of the Stonecutters Clan.

Upon my first munch of the thick, crunchy pyramid, I’m first hit with a strong corn flavor. But this corn is glazed with a savory cheesiness that quickly ramps up into the recognizable, biting sharpness that is typical of cheddar snacks.

And that’s it.

Wait, what? That can’t be. As it stands, these are Phantom Menace levels of disappointment. Maybe they should rename them “ChedDar Jar Binks Doritos.”

Bacon Cheddar Ranch Doritos Jacked 3D 3

I continue frantically shoveling corn triangles into my mouth hoping for a more intense experience, and slowly but surely, I get it.

As my mouth swells with the amalgamated ball of chewed, cheesy corn (yeah, this sounds really gross, but don’t lie: you know exactly the feeling), I notice a smoky finish to the cheddar cheese. It reminds me of the toasty, salty, and paprika-y flavor you get at the end of a barbecue chip.

I’m guessing this is the “bacon,” and it’s so subtle that you’d think a bacon fairy casually sprinkled her little pixie dust of bacon bits over the bag. I call her Oinkerbell.

I’m having trouble detecting any ranch, though. The closest thing is the aftertaste left by the 3D-oritos (a much better name, in my opinion). I’m not the best at estimation, but for about 2 geologic eons after eating them, my throat was plastered with a peppered, garlic tomato flavor. I’m not sure if this is “ranch,” but it is enough to leave me hoping for an actual bottle of cheese-toothpaste to rid my breath of this oily flashback.

Bacon Cheddar Ranch Doritos Jacked 3D 4

All in all, these were “so-so,” at best. I love the texture, extreme width, and fun shape (they look like someone set the font on their chip word processor to “Wingdings”) of the Doritos, but the tame cheese flavor isn’t memorable enough to prompt another buy. It’s just a kitchen-sink combination of old flavors that isn’t focused enough on a single one. You’d be better off buying Nacho Cheese or Cool Ranch to get a more distinct and focused palate experience.

Unless, of course, you’re an archeologist looking for a thematically appropriate snack to bring to the company “Quetzalcoatl Barbecue,” in which case these hieroglyphs are a good, mindless nosh for summer.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I only have a few more months to perfect my ChedDar Jar Binks cosplay. George Lucas will be proud!

(Nutrition Facts – 13 pieces – 150 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein..)

Item: Bacon Cheddar Ranch Doritos Jacked 3D
Purchased Price: $3.29
Size: 11.5 oz bag
Purchased at: Kroger
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Corn is made better with cheddar. Snacks shaped like RPG runes. Imagining a Doritosaurus/Jurassic World crossover.
Cons: Corn isn’t made that much better with cheddar. Scarcity of bacon flavor. Surplus of bacon memes. Not getting a kick out of ranch. Probably getting kicked out of Skywalker Ranch.

REVIEW: Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro Potato Chips

Lay's Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro Potato Chips

I haven’t had a really good gyro in a long time. Am I even saying that right? “Jy-ro”? Or is it “hi-ro?” “Guy-ro?” Meh, whatever, it’s all Greek to me.

*ducks tomatoes*

I’m sure by now you are all familiar with the yearly “Do Us a Flavor” competition Frito-Lay has been running. Last year brought us such favorites as Bacon Mac & Cheese and Cappuc…Bacon Mac & Cheese! It seems this year they decided to go with a theme – Tastes of America. The four finalists are – West Coast Truffle Fries (which are Wavy), New York Reuben, Southern Biscuits and Gravy, and the Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro.

My suggestions of “Funnel Cake” and “A Complete Breakfast” were unfortunately declined, which is Grade A hogwash. “Malarkey,” I say. Am I even saying that right?

Tastes of America, huh? I know where the West Coast is. I’ve been to New York and the South. Where the heck is Greektown? I assumed it was in Detroit, but James, the man who submitted the flavor, is from Texas and claims the flavor is inspired by his local gyro place. Let’s see what they’ve got, Jimmy.

Lay's Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro Potato Chips 2

As I tore open the bag, I was hit with a semi-unpleasant but distinct, almost peppery smell. The more I inhaled; I recognized the scent of your standard Greek herbs and spices. These chips do indeed smell like a gyro.

The immediate taste of the first chip was off-putting. That, combined with the smell, had me ready to chalk these up as a loser, but the more I chewed the more the taste improved. Greektown Gyro chips actually ended up having a pretty complex and layered flavor.

The first thing I pinpointed was the “zing” of Tzatziki sauce. This is not a flavor new to Frito-Lay. “Greek Tzatziki” was one of the finalists in Canada’s “Do Us a Flavor” competition last year, so I was ready to write these off as a lazy rip off. But that’s when the other flavors started to hit my tongue.

I definitely tasted the lamb/beef/mystery meat flavor in these chips. The same spices you’re used to in your gyro meats were definitely used to coat these chips.

Lay's Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro Potato Chips 3

I have to say, it’s actually impressive that I could breakdown multiple flavors if I focused on them. I definitely got some faint tomato and onion flavor, and I actually think there is even a little lingering cucumber in the aftertaste, but that’s probably just part of the Tzatziki. Feta is one of the standard ingredients in most gyros I’ve had, but I couldn’t really pick that out. It could possibly be thrown in there in some way, but there doesn’t appear to be any cheese element in the ingredient list.

Also, I thought the kettle cooked texture was perfect for this flavor. I don’t think these would be nearly as good as a normal potato chip. That extra crunch really enhances the experience.

So to answer the million dollar question, “Do they taste like a gyro?” Yeah, sure, I think they do. If I was blindfolded I honestly think I would be able to narrow it down to that flavor. But let’s get one thing straight, when it comes to gimmicky potato chips like these, you always need to take the flavor they are trying to imitate with a grain of salt – or in this case 7.7 mg of sodium per chip. Did you guys know there is a calculator app on your phone?! What an age we live in!

I’m not gonna sit here and declare these the winner until I try the other three flavors. The voting is open until October, so you have plenty of time to track them all down and do whatever hashtag Twitter voting I’m sure they’ll set up. Just going off the other flavors, I think this one might have a really good shot at winning. But let’s be real; you’ll probably see all of them on the shelves even after the voting ends. I still see Sriracha on shelves and that wasn’t a winner.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz. – 150 calories, 80 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 1 gram of sugars, 2 grams of protein, 2% iron, and 10% vitamin C.)

Item: Lay’s Kettle Cooked Greektown Gyro Potato Chips
Purchased Price: $2.68
Size: 8 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Gyros getting their due. Layers of flavor. Tzatziki sauce. Great kettle cooked crunch. Do us a Flavor competition.
Cons: Smell. Greece’s current economic state. Kind of a rehashed flavor. “A Complete Breakfast” denial. Bag confusion. Where is Greektown?

REVIEW: Limited Time Cheetos Sweetos Cinnamon Sugar Puffs

Cheetos Sweetos Cinnamon Sugar Puffs

As anyone who has ever eaten Cheetos knows, 90 percent of the appeal is licking the disgusting (and by disgusting, I mean awesome) amount of cheese powder residue that clings to your fingers. Cheesy, salty, delicious, and basically deserving to be packaged and sold as a savory rendition of a Pixy Stix, the Cheeto powder would constitute my entire source of calcium should the world ever see the abolition of pizza. Its deliciousness begs the existential question though: is the quintessence of the Cheeto unique to the cheesiness of the powder, or is it just the presence of a lickable flavor powder in and of itself? In other words: if you take away the cheese, can Cheetos still be great?

A question as mysterious and elusive as ”why is there an Easter bunny?”, the springtime arrival of Cheetos Sweetos as a limited edition Easter-themed snack provides ample empirical evidence to finally put to rest this most vexing of questions.

Shaped like Easter Eggs (or, presumably, drops of cheetah poop) each cinnamon sugar puff is light and airy with a dusty brown complexion one might associate with a well-aged gouda. There the similarities with cheese cease, as the hollow crunch of each puff flees from any notion of the salty Cheeto we’re accustomed to. The powder, too, is not quite as intense in its coverage, and while a fair amount of the advertised cinnamon-sugar transferred to my fingers, I didn’t find myself in need of a good Beethoven slobbering to remove it. I considered this most unfortunate.

Now that I think about it, that’s probably because the taste falls below expectations. For something which has adopted one of the most basic adjectives in flavor for its namesake, Cheetos Sweetos don’t initially taste very sweet at all. If anything, the pieces taste like an over-buttered but under-sugared piece of slightly soggy toast, with loads of cinnamon seasoning but nothing particularly salivating about that seasoning. To put it more bluntly; they’re straight-up bland.

Cheetos Sweetos Cinnamon Sugar Puffs Closeup

The buttery coating isn’t bad, and really, the amount of actual cinnamon flavor is quite admirable, but each puff plays it too safe in the sweetness department, like some kind of alternative cereal ever cognizant of a dreaded lecture by the health food police. What I was expecting, and what my and I’m sure most sweet snack food eaters would have preferred, was something like Post’s Mini-Cinnamon Churros cereal. Likewise, the corn base and cinnamon flavor leave my taste buds grasping for a point of reference, one which inevitably turns to the sturdier crunch of sweetened corn-based cereals. In this case, the puffed approach hinders old Chester, who would have been better to market these in the traditional, crunchier texture of a regular (crunchy) Cheeto.

To be fair, Cheetos Sweetos aren’t bad. But they’re far from memorable, and I wouldn’t choose them as a snack over the multitude of very good cinnamon-sugar cereals out there. If nothing else, they’ve established a fundamental and universal truth that we Cheetos lovers have long pondered over. Yes, the greatness of the Cheeto resides not just in the fact that you get miles of flavored powder to lick from your fingers, but in the unique and especially savory cheese flavor of the powder, and no amount of buttered and slightly sweet cinnamon coating can ever come close to replicating that deliciousness.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 ounce/about 13 pieces – 160 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 1 grams of protein.)

Item: Limited Time Cheetos Sweetos Cinnamon Sugar Puffs
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 7 oz. bag
Purchased at: Weis
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Pretty solid buttered cinnamon-sugar toast flavor. Strong and authentic cinnamon taste. Easter-themed treat which isn’t dark chocolate. Discovering the real essence of Cheeto deliciousness.
Cons: Sweetness is dull and bland. Mild corn aftertaste is distracting. Doesn’t work well in puffed form. Not getting to slobber up Cheeto powder.

REVIEW: Doritos Jacked 3D Jalapeño Pepper Jack

Doritos Jacked 3D Jalapen?o Pepper Jack

Like an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic or an Illuminati symbol, there’s an element of both metaphysical mystery and advanced technology suggested by the pyramidal shape of the new Doritos Jacked 3D Jalapeño Pepper Jack chips.

The obvious triple entendre of jacked certainly plays into the intrigue—Doritos wants you to know these chips aren’t just bold in flavor, they’re also studded with Pepper Jack cheese seasoning and completely “jacked up” from any type of Dorito we’ve seen previously.

As if stepping forth from a new dimension and intent on blowing our taste buds to smithereens, these new Doritos are supposed to be beyond anything we’ve been able to comprehend at this point.

Oh wait. Never mind.

Doritos Jacked 3D Jalapen?o Pepper Jack 3

Truth be told these aren’t just a clever rehashing of old Doritos concepts, which is something I’ve noticed Frito-Lay likes to try to sneak in on us every now and again. The chip’s construction really is unique, giving each crunchy corn pyramid an almost unmatched sturdiness in all of snackfooddom.

If you’re anything like me and hate buying an oversized bag of Doritos only to sob uncontrollably in disappointment over roughly one-third of your chips being broken, then you’ll appreciate the almost exclusively intact nature of the pieces.

What you may not appreciate is the taste, which leaves a lot to be desired. The intoxicating aroma and speckled seasoning immediately recalls everyone’s childhood favorite of Cool Ranch. And, yes, Cool Ranch are the *best* of the classic Doritos, but these are no worthy imitator. The seasoning is actually fairly dull.

It lacks the distinct buttermilk tang and lactic sweetness of Cool Ranch, displaying instead a bit of peppery and garlic flavor to compliment a respectable, but decidedly one-note whisper of jalapeño piquancy on the backend. Spicy enough to leave a tickle in your throat, and maybe elicit a cough or two, the taste is annoyingly persistent if only because there’s neither a cooling element associated with it or additional “hot” flavor to show an evolution in heat. For lack of a better adjective, the seasoning lacks that typical Doritos “zestiness” which makes eating an entire family size bag in one sitting such an, unfortunately, all-too-common experience.

Doritos Jacked 3D Jalapen?o Pepper Jack 2

Worse yet, the triangular pieces don’t really have much in the cheese flavor department. Jack cheese and its variants, including the jalapeño pepper jack version, should really have a mild and decidedly milky taste, but none of that comes off in the seasoning.

Each piece is saved somewhat by the strong and salty corn aftertaste, which tastes almost exactly like traditional Fritos, but with more crunch. Because I think Fritos are the most underrated of all chips, this is great news for me. But if you’re not a Fritos fan, and don’t get too crazy over the tickling heat of jalapeño, then you’ll likely find the chips a disappointment.

Unless you factor in the sturdiness of the pieces themselves, there’s nothing particularly mysterious or advanced about the rather bland and distinctively non-cheesy taste of the Doritos Jacked 3D Jalapeño Pepper Jack chips. Still, their solid crunch and salty corn base show potential to really capitalize on the Jacked namesake, but only if Doritos can apply their classic flavors to the new 3D triangular pieces.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz (about 13 pieces) – 150 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of total fat, 1.5 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of sugars, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Doritos Jacked 3D Jalapeño Pepper Jack
Purchased Price: $2.88
Size: 11 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Awesome crunch and sturdy construction not seen in previous versions of Doritos. Solid corn chip aftertaste will be popular amongst Fritos fans. Decent amount of jalapeño heat. Not snackable enough to eat a day’s worth of calories in flavored tortilla chips.
Cons: Seasoning is boring and not very cheesy. One-note jalapeño piquancy. Bag artwork seems stolen from Mountain Dew. Potential masonic conspiracy message engraved in a corn chip.

REVIEW: Pringles Food Truck Flavors Kickin’ Chicken Taco

Pringles Kickin Chicken Taco

Unless you were living on the planet Uranus and happened to miss the Super Bowl and all of its commercials, you no doubt know that a truck can change the way people feel about a guy. But can a truck also change the way people feel about a chicken taco-flavored crisp which is approximately only 42 percent potato?

Such is the question posed by the latest Pringles innovation, Food Truck Flavors Kickin’ Chicken Taco.

To give you some perspective, I guess I should start out by saying I like, but do not love, Pringles. I’ve always found them a serviceable crisp, but let’s be honest, anything you can buy in a can for under two bucks probably isn’t going to conjure up adjectives like “artisan” and “game-changing.” The plainer flavors tend to have an off and fake potato aftertaste, while inconsistent spice coverage always seems to leave the more inventive seasoned crisps falling short.

Yes, a chicken taco from a food truck sounds great, but could chicken taco be any more ambiguous? I mean, chicken taco encompasses quite a spectrum of possibilities; anything ranging from Taco Bell’s “grilled” chicken in a hard shell with iceberg and cheap cheddar cheese to fried and crispy breast tenderloins doused in a bulgogi-style sauce from an up-and-coming fusion chef. The vagueness of it all is enough to make a guy wonder if it’s just another variation of sour cream and onion with a dash of back heat.

Julius K. Pringle clearly had other ideas in designing these crisps because they more than lived up to the unique mashup of flavors that make food trucks such a hit. The first flavor to hit my tongue is the unmistakable taste of braised and specifically dark meat chicken. Intrepid and worldly snackers have seen chicken-flavored crisps before, but unlike Lay’s somewhat recent rendition of Chicken & Waffles, the deep, unmistakably meaty taste isn’t offensive or fowl, at least not as foul as the egregious poultry-themed pun I seamlessly worked into this review.

Pringles Kickin Chicken Taco 4

After the initial blast of braised chicken, a veritable Williams-Sonoma catalog of spices hits me. At first there’s a strong taste of cumin and coriander, with a peppery, cayenne-like back heat which slowly builds. The heat reaches a crescendo, however, and gives way to a slightly floral and acidic note. I hesitate to proclaim it cilantro (or is it parsley?), but there’s definitely an element of relief from the earthy heat of the spices in the seasoning powder. That seasoning gets good coverage overall, appearing on both sides of the crisps.

Pringles Kickin Chicken Taco 2

They end on a distinctly citrusy and curiously sour note, in this case the unmistakable association of a squirt of fresh lime or lemon juice. Maybe the best part is that overly fake potato flake taste is completely absent.

Needless to say, my taste buds have been blown away. There are multiple influences of street food at play on each crisp, ranging from the aggressive spices and slow roasting of the Middle East’s shawarma, to the classic back heat and citrusy relief of your more traditional shredded chicken tacos from Latin America. If combining those two influences in a fusion-style taco was their goal (and seriously, I can pull up a Google search of dozens of food trucks around the country doing this) then Pringles has nailed the flavor with uncanny accuracy.

In 26 years of Pringles eating, this is, unequivocally, the most complex Pringle I have ever tasted, and probably the most realistic mashup of the fusion-inspired food truck flavors a snack food could ever hope to capture. It’s definitely changed the way I feel about Pringles, but is it for the better?

Truth be told my taste buds are confused, caught off guard by flavors I probably wouldn’t seek out had I known they’d be so authentic. Whether or not you find them satisfyingly addictive or unnervingly too accurate probably will depend on your attraction to the combination of assertive Latin and Middle Eastern spices, but one thing’s for sure. This ain’t a trip through the drive-thru and it will definitely leave you with a new perspective on Pringles.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz./about 15 crisps – 150 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 170 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, less than 1 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein..)

Item: Pringles Food Truck Flavors Kickin’ Chicken Taco
Purchased Price: $1.50
Size: 5.96 oz. can
Purchased at: Harris Teeter
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Multilayer seasoning shows evolution in flavors from meaty to earthy to piquant to cooling. Strong poultry taste reminds me of pulled adobo marinated chicken thighs. Uncanny resemblance to Middle Eastern and Latin fusion flavors in taco form. Everything’s better with a truck.
Cons: Not the most craveable flavor. Lacks broad appeal of “simpler” seasoning. Could probably be better as a Pringles Tortilla flavor. Tastes about 0.5 percent potato.