REVIEW: Doritos Sweet & Tangy BBQ

Doritos Sweet & Tangy BBQ Bag

Of all the chip flavors I’ve tried and enjoyed, I don’t believe I’ve ever had barbeque-flavored Doritos. I believe there’s a Bold BBQ flavor available in Canada, but I guess every time I’ve been north, I’ve prioritized All Dressed chips instead. BUT NOW, a new Doritos flavor is available in the US — Doritos Sweet & Tangy BBQ.

Doritos Sweet & Tangy BBQ inside the bag

True to Doritos’ well-established brand identity of delivering bold flavors, these Sweet & Tangy BBQ Doritos looked and smelled like they were full of flavor right out of the bag. There was a strong aroma of vinegar, sweet barbeque, and tons of seasoning powder.

Doritos Sweet & Tangy BBQ dark seasoning

Maybe it’s because this particular seasoning is pretty dark, but these looked very heavily seasoned, which I prefer. But the taste really did surprise me a little bit. First of all, the corn chip flavor stands out MUCH more with this than it does in the traditional Doritos Nacho Cheese flavor. I’m not entirely sure why but I think it’s because the nacho cheese seasoning is much more salty and savory, and this chip is pretty sweet.

The other surprise is the distinct lack of smoke. Maybe I should have assumed this with a name like Sweet & Tangy, but this relies heavily on the BBQ flavor spectrum of tomato, vinegar, and brown sugar. I didn’t find it smoky at all, and it was very much NOT like the standard BBQ potato chip flavors you’d find at the market. There was a crisp acidic tang in the finish and aftertaste.

Overall I found these Doritos to be pretty unique. I think they’ve managed to hit a BBQ flavor in a super specific way with the sweet acid punch while still delivering a crowd-pleaser. I still prefer the OG Nacho Cheese flavor, but this is a compelling addition to the Doritos lineup.

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: 9.25 oz bag
Purchased at: Mariano’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (about 11 chips) 150 calories, 7 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Reese’s Puffs, and Trix Minis Cereals

I’ll be the first to admit I’m enchanted by the “tiny” versions of normal things. Travel-sized toiletries are charming. I marvel at the itty-bitty individual glass Heinz ketchup jars accompanying room service trays, even if I’m usually not the person ordering room service. My friend got me a Bonne Maman advent calendar this year, and to my absolute joy, I now have a collection of TEENTSY JARS OF JAM. Maybe some of you are nodding along, thinking, “Yes. Of course. DUH.” While other readers out there are already rolling their eyes. Well, ROLL right along, haters, because General Mills has made three of its Big G cereals MINIATURE: Trix Minis, Cinnamon Toast Crunch Minis, and Reese’s Puffs Minis.

These minis do live up to their name. They’re so smol. The first thing I notice is that their size makes snacking on these cereals hard. Attempting to taste these as a “dry” snack, I feel like a giant ogre trying to cram lentil-shaped noms into my ogre face. They scatter everywhere. I freak out that my dog might eat them. I clean up the kitchen and revert to standard cereal bowls.

Starting with Cinnamon Toast Crunch Minis, I prepare the serving suggestion of one cup cereal + 3/4 cup milk. It does look like a lot more food when they’re this miniature. I was also surprised that General Mills didn’t try to make CTC tiny little squares. It might have been harder, but it would have taken the wow factor up a notch. Still, these little CTCminis taste very similar to their toast-shaped brethren with, dare I say it, even more cinnamon flavor? Maybe it’s a surface ratio thing? They stay crunchy SLIGHTLY longer than standard CTC, but not by much. And, of course, the characteristic cinnamilk is still present. Hello old friend.

The mini Trix sort of look like what would happen if all of the berry fruit flavor Trix fell apart into their own individual spheres. These Trix Minis are not fruit-shaped, but have artificial colors and are visually the most exciting of the three mini flavors. Can you even get the Trix cereal in full-sized spheres, or was that a temporary thing from about five years ago when they made Trix with natural colors until enough consumers demanded the vibrant original be brought back? Regardless, the Trix Minis pack that same sugary punch of flavor. They stay crunchier in the milk longer than the CTCMinis, and I’m guessing a sugar coating drives that. They also don’t hurt your teeth nearly as much to crunch into because the mini-sized spheres crunch completely under your bite.

I saved Reese’s Puffs Minis for last. Reese’s Puffs were the cereal my mom NEVER let me have growing up, which only drove my desperation and adoration deeper into my heart. My favorite way to enjoy Reese’s Puffs is as a dry cereal snack which, as mentioned earlier, is super difficult and extra messy in this miniature form. However, these mini little guys are great. The ratio of flavor coating to inner cereal puff seems to have been perfected here, and the puffs reach optimum saturation level faster and sustain it longer than with the larger version. There are also WAY more pieces in every bite which adds, I think, to the flavor experience and overall satisfaction.

The final bit of fun offered with these new Minis is the kitchen play set you can build yourself from cut-outs in the back of each box which entertained this adult for a solid hour or so in the afternoon I picked these up. Overall I admire the simplicity of this innovation. The flavors are established favorites, offered in a unique format that makes your already beloved cereal treat even more enjoyable.

Or, you know, it’s just the same thing but tiny. Dealer’s Choice.

Purchased Price: $4.89 each
Size: 12.3 oz box (Cinnamon Toast Crunch), 10.8 oz box (Trix), 11.7 oz box (Reese’s Puffs)
Purchased at: Mariano’s
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Cinnamon Toast Crunch), 7 out of 10 (Trix), 9 out of 10 (Reese’s Puffs)
Nutrition Facts: Cinnamon Toast Crunch (1 cup cereal) 170 calories, 5 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein. Trix (1.25 cup cereal) 150 Calories, 2 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein. Reese’s Puffs (1 cup cereal) 160 Calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Zapp’s Voodoo and Jazzy Honey Mustard Pretzel Stix

It’s hard to stand out in the chip aisle. There are so many brands, flavors, and formats, and the most popular are repeated between competitors — sour cream & onion, something cheesy, something spicy, something cheesy AND spicy, etc.

So I have to give some kudos to Zapp’s for the sacred space they’ve carved out for themselves with the “Voodoo” flavor. The brand recently expanded its snack offerings with Sinfully Seasoned Pretzel Stix in two flavors — New Orleans Style Voodoo and New Orleans Style Jazzy Honey Mustard.

I expected the honey mustard one to be the milder flavor of the two, so I started with those. I was impressed by the amount of seasoning because they looked like they’d definitely leave you with some Cheeto-like finger residue. They delivered a classic honey mustard taste, leaning more towards the sweeter end of the spectrum. I did think the pretzel itself was a little dry and crumbly. But overall, these were a nicely balanced sweet honey and savory mustard snack.
?The more unique of the two was the Voodoo seasoning. A coworker once described Voodoo as “barbeque mixed with salt and vinegar,” and I don’t think that description is too far off! These pack a big punch, flavor-wise, and the paprika and turmeric give them a bright color. Although, I did notice significantly more broken pieces in the bag.

The flavor of these Voodoo Pretzel Stix is bright, acidic, and very similar to the Voodoo chips. They do lean a little sweet, similar to the honey mustard ones. It makes sense that the same seasoning wouldn’t taste the same on a pretzel as it would on a kettle chip. I also thought the Voodoo pretzels were a bit dry, but the flavor more than made up for it.

Overall I think if you’re a fan of Voodoo, you will want to get your hands on these. And as Utz owns a vast range of pretzel and chip formats, I’m hopeful for more iterations on the base carrier or maybe more of Zapp’s flavors in the future.

Purchased Price: $5.99 each
Size: 16 oz bag
Purchased at: Jewel Osco
Rating: Jazzy Honey Mustard (7 out of 10), Voodoo (8 out of 10)
Nutrition Facts: (15 pretzels) Jazzy Honey Mustard – 120 calories, 5 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 300 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein. Voodoo – 120 calories, 5 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 400 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Cheetos Bolitas Chile & Cheese

Cheetos Bolitas Chile  Cheese Bag

Frito-Lay has decided to increase the number of Cheeto dust variants in the US with the expanded distribution of the Chile & Cheese Cheetos Bolitas. According to the internet, these cheesy spheres were once only available in Mexico but are now making their US debut.

Cheetos Bolitas Chile  Cheese Top

Cheetos Bolitas smell like hot sauce and cheddar straight out of the bag. The burnt red color and smoky chile aroma made me think these might be pretty spicy, but they were definitely in the mild heat index. The initial flavor is bright, like a vinegary hot sauce, and then rounds out to a light cheesy flavor. The brightness is similar to a chile limon-type seasoning but not quite so citrusy. It’s definitely less heavy on the pallet than a cheese-only flavor. I think this also makes them not as cheesy as US Cheetos products.

What surprised me most was the distinct corn meal flavor from the base puff. The corn flavor comes through strong and leaves a lasting corn meal aftertaste. It’s pleasant but definitely different compared to some of the US versions of Cheetos products in their varied formats. The Bolitas are light and airy but have that fried oil exterior shell that clings to cheese powder and seasonings so well.

Cheetos Bolitas Chile  Cheese Bowl

Like any Cheetos product, though, these definitely cover your fingers in a tasty Cheeto dust with the same vinegar brightness and cheese flavor as the Bolitas. Yum. Overall I thought these were tasty and very snackable. I think it’s fantastic that we’re starting to see some expanded distribution of international flavors as innovations from Frito-Lay. Does this mean we might also see the return of All Dressed Ruffles in the States again? I’m All for it!

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 6 oz bag
Purchased at: Woodman’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (about 32 pieces) 170 Calories, 12 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Lay’s Kettle Cooked Fritos Chili Cheese Potato Chips

Lay s Kettle Cooked Fritos Chili Cheese Potato Chips Bag

After polling the general public for over half a decade and creating almost every flavor iteration imaginable, Frito-Lay seems to have decided to start leaning on its heavy hitters. Last year’s inter-brand crossovers brought us Doritos, Cheetos, and Funyuns flavored potato chips. This year, they’ve come back, but they also brought along the new Lay’s Kettle Cooked Fritos Chili Cheese Flavored Potato Chips. What a mouthful, literally and figuratively.

Lay s Kettle Cooked Fritos Chili Cheese Potato Chips Closeup

So how are they?

They’re very accurate. One of the fun parts of these flavor extensions is that because they’re all in the same brand “family,” we get the actual seasoning blends but on a different chip base. Having the EXACT same seasoning is part of the enjoyment.

The cheese flavor is apparent right away and not too overwhelming. The chili seasoning and cumin flavors come up quickly, especially when munching on over-seasoned chips. Before long, I got that feeling in the back of my throat as if I’d just done the cinnamon challenge but grabbed the wrong spice jar, which ended up being smoky chili powder.

It’s possible the corn chip sweetness balances this seasoning better than kettle chips because these get pretty salty pretty fast. It’s almost to the point that they’re a self-regulated serving size kind of snack. But I think the super high chili flavor is an identifying characteristic of Chili Cheese Fritos, so I wasn’t bothered by this.

Also, the significant crunchiness of a kettle chip was the right pairing for such a potent seasoning blend. I think the Kettle Cooked Chips are the far superior chip format among all that Frito-Lay offers, especially when trying to translate a flavor generally found on a uniquely crunchy and savory corn chip. Regular Lay’s just weren’t going to get the job done here.

Lay s Kettle Cooked Fritos Chili Cheese Potato Chips Bowl

Overall, I enjoyed these arguably over-seasoned chips. The chili cheese flavor on the kettle chip base is strong but recognizable. I wouldn’t be mad if they stick around for a while, and they also seem like a good fit for tailgates.

Purchased Price: $3.79
Size: 8 oz bag
Purchased at: Mariano’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (about 15 chips) 150 calories, 9 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.