My wife recently told me she admired my self-control around open bags of chips. I asked what she meant, and she explained that if a chip bag is open, I’ll eat a certain amount until I’m not hungry anymore, then stop and let the chip bag sit there unmolested rather than continue to eat. I’d never really thought about it that way, but in general, I think she’s right. I can eat some potato chips and then keep the bag in front of me without touching it. I can usually do that with tortilla chips. I can even pull it off with cheese curls.
But Doritos are another story. Open a bag of Doritos and you expose my all-too-human weakness. I’ll keep eating those things until I force myself to close the bag and stash it away, or until it’s empty. If it’s open and sitting out, self-control is not an option.
So knowing that about myself, what was I to think about Doritos introducing the “JACKED” sub-line (I feel strongly it should be all caps) that boasts of Bigger, Bolder, Thicker chips? Should I be enthused, or worried? Was I like a smoker getting excited because his Camels would now contain triple the nicotine? And why “JACKED,” anyway? Were they going to contain Monterey or Cheddar Jack cheese (no), or was this just a doomed marketing attempt to seem appropriately “street” (almost certainly)?
Then I thought about it for .43 seconds and realized two of those adjectives are completely irrelevant. Who cares if each individual chip is 40% bigger and thicker if the size of the bag remains the same? If anything it’s a ploy to get you to eat the same number of Doritos you always did, but since there are fewer per bag, you’ll need to buy another bag sooner. They could just as easily make the Doritos small and wafer thin and brag about how each bag contains thousands, yes thousands of chips!
But it’s the second adjective that piqued my interest, because fortune favors the bold and so do I. The two inaugural flavors kicking off the JACKED line are Smoky Chipotle BBQ and Enchilada Supreme, and neither of those tastes screams “Let my subtle notes gently waft across your palate.” Appropriately for a product that debuted at the SXSW Festival, these are chips for extreme people with extreme taste buds; and while I may not be one of them, I’m always up for a challenge.
As you can see (the penny is for scale, I haven’t taken to eating copper… yet), the Smoky Chipotle BBQ chips are definitely larger than their standard Doritos brethren, and while it may not be clear from the picture, noticeably darker as well. I was unable to find one completely intact; I’m not sure if that’s a consequence of them being bigger and crunchier, or just having two toddlers who like to help unpack groceries. The smell is surprisingly subdued, not at all the intense aroma that typically warns you to proceed carefully with spicy food.
My expectation was that, despite the best efforts of the marketing department, the Chipotle BBQ Doritos wouldn’t be absurdly hot, so as not to deter most of the target audience. Frankly, I was afraid they’d go too far and end up with wuss chips; and luckily, that fear proved groundless. They pack a greater crunch than the regular variety due to their increased thickness, and you can clearly taste the classic Doritos artificial cheese on them. But with it definitely comes an explosion of spice that won’t send you sprinting for a gallon of milk, but will probably make you think twice about eating any without a cold drink handy. Darned if there isn’t a bit of a smoky flavor to them too, complementing the heat. It’s worth noting that the spice distribution is slightly uneven, some chips being noticeably hotter than others, but I’m not sure there’s any way that could’ve been avoided.
Likewise, the Enchilada Supreme Doritos carry a less potent aroma than I would’ve expected. They mostly smell like regular Doritos, with just a hint of Mexican spices if you really focus. The taste, however, packs just as much of a wallop as the Chipotle variety, if not more. Immediately your tongue is hit with a tangy salsa taste, and it IS tangy. I would say the flavor is more intense than the Chipotle variety but doesn’t linger as long — like a process server, it gets in, hits you with a lawsuit or paternity papers, and gets out immediately. It also has a cheesier taste than regular Doritos, which is much appreciated, along with some tomato flavor. And not that these have anything in common with “real” Mexican cuisine, but as someone who makes his tacos with shells, beef, cheese, and that’s it, I was slightly nervous about this flavor but found myself really digging it. You can also more easily eat them without a beverage handy than the Chipotle variety, since the spice doesn’t linger nearly as long.
I’m often skeptical of attempts to improve an established product I like, and doubly so if they appear to be pursuing the Poochie demographic. That said, I’m surprised to be able to happily recommend both of these new flavors. The increased size and thickness is largely window dressing, but they both have chops as far as spiciness, albeit in different ways. I’m a little more partial to the Smoky Chipotle BBQ flavor myself, but regular visitors to the Bell or a real Mexican restaurant may swing more in favor of the Enchilada Supreme. Either way though, you’ve got something good on your hands. Just remember to stretch properly before getting that X-treme; cramped taste buds are NOT cool, man.
(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz (about 6 chips) – Smoky Chipotle BBQ – 130 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of total fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of sugars, and 2 grams of protein. Enchilada Supreme – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of total fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 0 grams of sugars, and 2 grams of protein.)
Item: Doritos JACKED (Smoky Chipotle BBQ and Enchilada Supreme)
Price: $4.29 each
Size: 10.5 oz
Purchased at: Giant
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Smoky Chipotle BBQ)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Supreme Enchilada)
Pros: Doesn’t wimp out on the spice. Bolder. Enchilada Supreme definitely tastes like both cheese and tomato. Begrudgingly, I’ll admit they are more “extreme” than regular Doritos. You can really see the spicy crystals or whatever on the Chipotle BBQ kind. Catch you on the flip side, dudemeisters!
Cons: Irrelevant size increases. Not exactly cheap. “JACKED” is not a word typically associated with good things (carjacked, jacked up on steroids, etc). The description on the bag contains phrases like “mind-blowing” and “Can you handle it?” without an air of tongue-in-cheek self-awareness. Might lead to you accidentally eating your iPod Nano.