Purchased Price: $2.98 Size: 9 oz. bag Purchased at: Walmart Rating: 7 out of 10 Pros: Nice smoky aroma. Its garlicky, oniony, and peppery flavor reminds me of a canned chili (I can’t remember what brand). Most flavorful Tostitos I’ve ever had. Shape makes them great for dips. Red peppers in the chip. Some chips have a kick (thanks jalapeño). The Asian in me is excited about the soy sauce used to make them (I can kind of taste it, but it might be my mind thinking it’s there because I know it’s there). Cons: Not all the chips in the bag have a kick to them. The flavor noticeably diminished as I ate more in one sitting. Being too cheap to buy dip. The exclamation point after Scoops. Shape makes them look like they would make good pasties, but rough corn chip texture would be tough on nipples.
Nutrition Facts: 1 oz/10 chips – 130 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 130 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.
While Frito-Lay was making thicker Doritos and Ruffles, it appears they were also thinning Tostitos.
The new Tostitos Thins tortilla chips are not only thinner than regular Tostitos, but they also have a lighter texture. According to the press release, the new chips are, “made from corn that is stone-ground for a light and crispy texture and then lightly dusted with special seasonings to create the two flavors.”
What are those two flavors?
Lime & Salt and TexMex.
Okay, since they’re seasoned, people probably won’t dip them in salsa. But if party goers, game watchers, and movie buffs do stick these thinner chips in salsa or a cheese dip, expect the dip to turn into the Davy Jones’ Locker for broken chips.
Tostitos Thins are now available exclusively at Target stores nationwide through mid-July.
I am, at heart, a creature of habit. My wife is constantly irritated with me because she likes to experiment with cooking new foods, whereas I would happily spend the rest of my days eating the same five meals in rotation. (Pizza, cheeseburgers, pasta, steaks, pancakes/waffles/French toast. And grilled cheese.) But honestly, once you find a formula that works, why would you want to mess with it? I’ll take my Superman sans mullet or electrical powers, thank you. So I’m always a little leery of the trend among snack food and soft drink manufacturers to be constantly rolling out new flavors. If I probably won’t like them as much as the regular version and half of them won’t be around in a few months anyway, why bother?
And yet… I like pepper jack cheese. And I really like Tostitos, for no particularly good reason I’ve ever been able to figure out. I mean, they’re pretty much just salt and flour, right? So watching me inhale a bowl of them during football season is basically the equivalent of watching a deer visiting a salt lick, except more pathetic because the deer doesn’t understand the concept of shame. Nonetheless, as I told my wife, Tostitos were here when you showed up and they’ll still be around when you’re gone, so don’t try to come between us. She understands. It’s the same reason you don’t see me making her choose between me and wine, because there are no winners in that game. Except wine.
The first thing you’ll notice when you open a bag of Hint of Pepper Jack Tostitos is the smell. Regular Tostitos have an aroma that can best be described as “salt,” but the HoPJ’s definitely have more pop, a bolder scent that fits their in-your-face brand image. It says that these chips have a statement to make and they don’t give a damn whether you like them or not. That’s good; I like my snacks with some piss and hellfire to them. I want chips that, if they were a movie, they’d be played by Samuel L. Jackson with a score by Isaac Hayes, and they’d call you a motherfucker a minimum of three times. Why? Because fuck you, that’s why. Granted these aren’t habanero, but pepper jack often has some bite, so I was hoping the “hint” would turn out to be more of a belt. I can take it, you sissies.
Well, I have good news for those of you who read that last paragraph and thought, “Drew, you crazy” — while the chips definitely do taste of pepper jack, they aren’t going to be burning out your sinuses. They’re eminently eatable for anyone, and that includes me; even if they aren’t overly powerful, they still taste good. The Tostitos are more tangy than hot, and they have a slight cheese flavor, though not quite as much as I’d like. My wife claims they taste quite a bit similar to ranch chips, for whatever that’s worth. Personally I just liked them, though in moderation. Like bacon-flavored beer, they’re a fun treat and a nice change of pace, but if you had to eat them every day you’d be jonesing for the regular variety before long. If you’re feeling particularly mischievous, mix some HoPJs in with ordinary Tostitos at your next get-together and watch people’s faces. Don’t do that with Hint of Lime Tostitos, though. I once grabbed an innocuous-looking chip at a party and bit down, only to have to restrain myself from spitting it out because of all the people around. First blood to you, lime chip.
Perhaps the most ringing endorsement I can offer is that after opening the bag, the Hint of Pepper Jack Tostitos lasted a total of 3 days in my house, whereas we still have 2 of chocolate creme Twinkies I reviewed last month left over. That should tell you all you need to know. From what I understand, the HoPJs are being treated as a permanent new flavor in the “Hint of” line, but you and I both know chips are only as permanent as there are consumers buying them. So if you’re worried that these won’t have the mass appeal to stick it out, be sure to pick up a bag now.
(Nutrition Facts — 1 oz./about 6 chips — 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)
Item: Tostitos Hint of Pepper Jack Tortilla Chips Price: $3.99 Size: One package Purchased at: Acme Rating: 7 out of 10 Pros: Five foods is all you really need. Intriguing smell. Being played by Samuel MF’ing Jackson. Edible by masochists and wimps alike. Tastes good. Mixing with regular Tostitos and watching the fun. “Pepper Jack” would be a cool nickname when you’re old. Cons: One step above a salt lick. Mulleted Superman. More of an occasional curiosity than a regular snack food. Lime chips. I fought the wine and the wine won.
Let’s get the dry (excuse the pun) part of Lay’s and Tostitos Dip Creations out of the way first: they are Dry Dip Mixes, or Seasoning Mixes, depending on if you’re reading the packet or Frito-Lay’s website. The packets say Seasoning Mixes, so I’ll go with that. For Lay’s Country Ranch and Garden Onion, you add the seasonings to 16 ounces of sour cream. For Tostitos Freshly Made Guacamole, you add them to three mashed up avocados.
Pretty straightforward. Now we’re all on the same page, right? Okay, good. Now we can get to the part where I overanalyze Frito-Lay’s marketing strategy and mock innocent bloggers.
Here’s the thing: Lay’s already sells ready-made Smooth Ranch and French Onion dips in jars. They are essentially competing with themselves; furthermore, they are competing with a product where all you have to do is twist a cap off. Tostitos surprisingly doesn’t already offer a jarred guacamole, but they’re putting their Dry Dip Mix up against products like Wholly Guacamole, which requires only that you snip the tip off a plastic bag and squeeze it into a bowl (or your mouth, you freak). It’s also made with real avocados and no preservatives.
So what’s the spin? What angle could Frito-Lay use to make Dip Creations appealing to the masses? To answer these questions, we need to go to F-L’s blog/transparently promotional tool, Snack Chat. Alexia, one of the resident bloggers, was put in charge of trying to convince me to buy Dip Creations, and this is how she did it:
“This year, I’m making a real commitment to improve my cooking skills. I’ve found some great products that are helping me with this goal, like pre-marinated chicken meat — the key to flavorful fajitas and salads. Another helpful product is one we just introduced at Frito-Lay. It’s a line of seasoning mixes called Tostitos and Lay’s Dip Creations.”
Sit down with me, Alexia. Let’s have a real snack chat. Ready? Okay. ADDING POWDERED SEASONING TO SOUR CREAM AND AVOCADOS IS NOT A FORM OF IMPROVING YOUR COOKING SKILLS. Yes, I can see it now: one minute you’re mixing ranch powder into sour cream, the next you’re head chef at a Michelin three-star restaurant. James Beard award, here you come!
But wait, Alexia isn’t done yet. “I’ve tried them all, and all three make pretty amazing (and easy-to-prepare) dips -â€“ the kind people might think came from a family recipe.”
You know what the family recipe is for onion dip? Lipton Onion Soup Mix and sour cream. True inspiration, there. And if you waved a packet of Tostitos Dip Creations Freshly Made Guacamole Seasoning Mix in the face of someone’s abuelita and told her it was just like her cherished homemade guacamole, she would throw a bowl of steaming hot refried beans in your face. That’s just insulting.
I only picked up Garden Onion and Freshly Made Guacamole (a sketchy name for a seasoning packet) and not Country Ranch because a.) I know onion dip like the back of my hand and Lipton has always ruled the school, b.) I want to see Freshly Made Guacamole either fail horribly or blow away my expectations, and c.) I don’t need two tubs of sour cream in my fridge, and besides, I feel like making Country Ranch dip would be insulting to the ever-present bottle of Kraft Ranch Dressing that helps make my pizza crusts edible. Just wanted to clarify, in case anybody wants to scream “WHERE’S THE RANCH?” Don’t mess with an old lady’s schtick from 1984.
The instructions, or “cooking skills improvement guide” as Alexia might call them, are simple and obvious: blend 16 ounces sour cream with one packet of Garden Onion, let it sit in the fridge for one hour. I usually let my onion dip set up for at least six hours, so I had some doubts about such a short time for letting the powder blend into the sour cream, allowing the flavors to meld. I was pleasantly surprised to find that, after the allotted hour, the powder seemed completely dissolved.
The flavor will probably improve after a longer gestation period in the fridge, but after such a short time, I was a little disappointed in the level of onioniness (stare at that made-up word for a while, your eyes will cross) in my Garden Onion dip. The distinctive onion flavor was still there, but it was much more subtle than a dip made with Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix.
I was surprised to find little crunchy bits of onion spread throughout the dip. They added an extra dimension of onion and you could feel the crunch, even with the crispiness of the potato chip I was using as dip delivery device. I’m left wondering if the little bits of dried onion will soften as the dip sits longer, but I hope they don’t, because it was a nice contrast to the smoothness of the sour cream.
Freshly Made Guacamole
Again, simple instructions: mash three large avocados, mix in seasoning, let sit for 30 minutes. It’s not often that I have to handle fresh produce for a review. I found myself in a strange section of the grocery store that had food that wasn’t in a bag or a box.
“I hear this shit comes from the ground, what the hell,” my husband said.
“That’s gross,” I replied.
Despite my revulsion at having to handle something that doesn’t contain 17 different unpronounceable chemicals, I needed to get the avocados for the review, so I put on a brave face and got through it. This “recipe” takes a bit more work; after stirring the Garden Onion, mashing the avocados, and then stirring in the guacamole seasoning mix, my hand was as tired as a desperate hooker’s after giving handjobs at the bus station all day.
I was even more worried about this dip than the onion dip, because the powder looked much chunkier and the instructions called for an even shorter set-up period in the fridge. Once again, however, I was pleasantly surprised; the guacamole was smooth â€“ well, as smooth as I got it before I gave up pulverizing the meat of three avocados with a fork.
Even more surprising was the flavor. I didn’t want to like it, but I couldn’t deny it. It was darn tasty. The onion and garlic flavors were prominent, and while I couldn’t detect any heat or flavor from the jalapeno pepper, there was something in the seasoning mix that gave it that guacamole twang. I kept eating it, trying to find a reason not to like it, but my only objection was the lack of jalapeno.
I wanted to hate Lay’s and Tostitos Dip Creations Seasoning Mixes. I’m not sure why; I guess all of Alexia’s talk of cooking improvement and family recipes got me all wound up. Lay’s Garden Onion didn’t really do it for me; I liked the crunchy bits, but the onion flavor just wasn’t strong enough. I’ll stand by my Lipton’s, but if you like a milder onion flavor, Lay’s could work for you. To save myself from having someone’s abuelita break into my house and scald my face with beans, I will say, there’s no substitution for chopping up your own vegetables and making fresh guacamole. However, I am a lazy, lazy person, and Tostitos Freshly Made Guacamole manages to hit the spot in a surprisingly sufficient way. I was disappointed by the lack of jalapeno, but I can add some hot sauce to give it some heat. In the end, I have to admit, Dip Creations is a solid product line for someone like me who wants to make dip without a lot of effort.
(Nutrition Facts – 1/16 package – Lay’s Dip Creations Garden Onion Seasoning Mix – package â€“ 5 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 1 gram of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of sugars, 0 grams of protein. Tostitos Dip Creations Freshly Made Guacamole Seasoning Mix â€“ 5 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 1 gram of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of sugars, 0 grams of protein.)
Item: Lay’s Dip Creations Garden Onion and Tostitos Dip Creations Freshly Made Guacamole Seasoning Mixes Price: $1.59 Size: 1 oz. packet Purchased at: Fry’s Foods Rating: 6 out of 10 (Lay’s Dip Creations Garden Onion) Rating: 8 out of 10 (Tostitos Dip Creations Freshly Made Guacamole) Pros: Guacamole had great onion and garlic taste. Taking out my anger on avocados. Garden Onion had tasty crunchy bits. Angry abuelitas. Dips set up quickly in the fridge. Cons: Garden Onion wasn’t oniony enough. Alexia and her cooking skills. Guacamole lacked jalapeno flavor and heat. The big scary produce section. Bus station handjob syndrome.
I know how it is Tostitos, and I know what you’re trying to do with your new Restaurant Style with a Hint of Pepper Jack Tortilla Chips. I’ve called numerous 1-900 numbers to know that if you give a little hint of something good, you’re gonna want more. A $3.99 for the first minute hint can easily lead to several $2.99 additional minutes. So I don’t think I’ll be falling for the light, smooth jack cheese flavor your new chips will provide.
There’s also the new Tostitos Restaurant Style Tortilla Chips with a Hint of Jalapeno, but I’m only going to spend this sentence talking about it because in 2009 they released Tostitos Scoops with a Hint of Jalapeno, so it’s not a totally new idea.
A one-ounce serving size, or about six chips, of the Tostitos Restaurant Style with a Hint of Pepper Jack Tortilla Chips has 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 3 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 2 grams of monounsaturated fat, 140 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.