Look out! Chester Cheetah and his mischievous buddy Sparky are unleashing their wild sides again, this time blasting fiery clouds of spicy, neon red Cheetle all over poor, unsuspecting Cool Ranch Doritos. What exactly is fueling this fire? Did the folks at Frito-Lay accidentally make way too much Hot dust and the solution to this abundance is to dump it on everything?
Okay, I’m a little biased. I enjoy spicy foods but just can’t get behind Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. It isn’t that they’re too hot, but I find whatever the hot stuff is detracts from my enjoyment of the classic Cheetos taste. I acknowledge that I’m in the minority here because Flamin’ Hot Cheetos have a fierce and loyal following, and Frito-Lay knows it. It’s no accident that they’re sprinkling this seasoning on every product they make. More red dye 40 means more sales. Hot is popular and it’s my own fault I’ve never warmed to the concept.
With probable disappointment in mind, I still couldn’t help but pick up the familiar blue Cool Ranch bag, now featuring its corny triangle engulfed in flames. A peek inside revealed the expected aggressively red powder, and I figured I knew what I was in for. Some of the chips are liberally coated, but others seem almost like regular Cool Ranch Doritos that were spared the dousing of hell pollen.
I ate one. Then three more. These chips still taste like Cool Ranch! In fact, Cool Ranch is the first thing I taste and continue to taste, even if my fingers are bright red. I have to eat several of them before the heat starts creeping in, and when it does make its presence known, it doesn’t overwhelm. It’s a pleasant pepper heat, and the ranch flavor never takes a back seat to it. I actually like these. I like them a lot.
How hot are they? I’m not sure I’d call them Flamin’ because I have to eat a lot of these before I even begin to feel the need to reach for a cooling beverage, and they certainly aren’t so hot that I ever need to take a break from eating them. My almost empty bag can attest to that. I think a pretty perfect balance has been struck here. These taste like the chips everyone already loves but pack just slightly more of a punch. I can’t say that I prefer them to regular Cool Ranch Doritos, but I can embrace them in a way I’ve never been able to with Flamin’ Hot editions before.
Now that this door has been opened, does it mean I should finally make that box of Flamin’ Hot mac and cheese that’s been sitting in my cupboard for a year and a half? If I do, you can be sure I’m going to pour these Dorito crumbs on top.
Purchased Price: $3.99 Size: 9 1/4 oz bag Purchased at: Mariano’s Rating: 8 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (28 grams – about 12 chips) 150 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.
It’s that time of the year when Reese’s shapes frenetically go from footballs to pumpkins to trees in the blink of an eye. But shapes aren’t the only trick Reese’s have up its sugar-coated sleeve.
When it’s not sculpting its iconic blend of sweet peanut butter and milk chocolate into different but strikingly similar oblong shapes, it does something else with equal authority — stuffing its plus-sized cups with new goodies. Last autumn, we Hershey-heads were gifted Reese’s Big Cup with Pretzels, and this fall, it’s upping the sweet and salty ante with the Reese’s Potato Chips Big Cup.
This item is smokin’ hot brand new, yet the packaging has a retro quality that I find really attractive. It lures me in with its nostalgic charm. Although as a bonafide sweet and salty junky, I didn’t need to be sold in the slightest to pick these up the second I saw them.
I’m not sure if there’s a plan to release these in normal-sized cups or minis in the future, but starting with the Big Cup was the right decision. I’ve found the mix-ins, whether they’re Reese’s Pieces, cookies, or pretzels, can get lost in the smaller variety but get the proper chance to shine with the extra space the Big Cup provides. That’s definitely the case here.
The potato chips provide an immediate and intense crunch, with a touch of pleasant greasiness and punchy saltiness that takes the already salty candy to new heights. It’s still more sweet than it is salty, but the toothy chomp of the crispy ridged chips sets off pockets of legitimate salt that aren’t part of the normal smooth peanut butter equation. The salt gets tempered by the milk chocolate, and while it’s saltier than your average PB cup, it’s still well balanced with the sweetness. It’s delicious and addictive. I want this in the novelty sized holiday half-pound cups!
If I had to fault this Big Cup in any way, it’s in the lack of identifiable potato chip flavor. While they’re not as common as chocolate-covered pretzels, chocolate-covered chips are awesome. And as strong as the sweet and salty experience is in this Big Cup, I would have loved for that classic starchy potato taste to come through. I’m not all that surprised, though. Peanut butter has such a dominant flavor, but that cheap greasiness DOES poke through over the fatty PB, so it’s still distinctly different from any prior offerings, even the pretzel. Fortunately, the lack of vegetal potato taste also doesn’t bog down the experience too much. It’s just keeping it from being perfect.
Purchased Price: $1.99 Size: 2.6 oz Purchased at: Walgreens Rating: 9 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (1 cup – 36 grams) 180 calories, 11 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 18 grams of sugar, 4 grams of protein.
According to the back of the bag, “A new way to get a kick of heat from your favorite Nashville Hot seasonings with the crunch you love from Cheetos.” This is not the first Nashville Hot seasoned snack from Frito-Lay, who pumped out potato chips with the flavor last year.
How are they?
They smell like, um, let’s just say you wouldn’t recognize them as Nashville Hot-seasoned snacks by their smell. When I give them a quick sniff, they smell like unseasoned corn puffs. Only when I put my nose right up to them and take a long yoga-like nasal inhale do I get a whiff of something and a little itchy nose. But, again, not something that would be recognized as a regional spicy fried chicken dish.
They have a noticeable flavor that could be considered fried chicken-like, but the “authentic blend of spices” that supposedly creates the Nashville Hot flavor is bland. Initially, I thought my taste buds were broken, so I ate other things to ensure they weren’t. They were working. There’s a “kick of heat,” and it registers just below Flamin’ Hot on the Scoville, I mean, Fritoville scale. But, overall, this basically has just chicken flavor and a bit of spiciness.
Anything else you need to know?
This is currently a Circle K and Dollar General exclusive.
Nashville Hot Cheetos’ seasoning isn’t that flavorful. It’s not something I must lick off my fingers or knees. And that makes for a disappointing and unsatisfying snack.
Thanks to TIB reader and regular Spotted contributor, Robbie, for sending me this bag.
Purchased Price: $3.00 Size: 8 1/2 oz bag Purchased at: Dollar General Rating: 5 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (about 21 pieces/28 g) 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of sodium, 200 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.
Everyone has that one junk food that got away. One of the most elusive snacking memories I’ve been hopelessly clinging onto and clamoring for is Doritos Sonic Sour Cream!
The history is a bit wonky, but for ME, these Doritos popped up sometime in the mid to late 90s in a gorgeous Joker-esque lime green bag with purple accents and vanished in the early 2000s. They may have origins even deeper than that, tracing back to a Sour Cream and Onion Doritos in the 70s, but that doesn’t sound or look nearly as cool as the neon green Sonic finished with a very 90s exclamation mark. They were like Cool(er) Ranch Doritos but more seasoned, more creamy, and honestly…the bag looked cooler. I got them every time I could.
All this nostalgic babble is simply to say I was ecstatic when I heard about the new Doritos Tangy Ranch! A cool bag, albeit not quite lime green, more of a teal, but still new and slightly 90s, and the word “tangy” with an exclamation mark. Tang is definitely what comes to mind when I think about sour cream. Could these be a rebranding and relaunching of the chip that has escaped me my entire adult life? *cue Law & Order transition music*
No. No, they are not. Despite the return of the exclamation mark and the nod to the 90s design, these are not sonic, nor are they sour cream, but they are good! The first massive difference I notice when crunching into these corny chips is the aggressive garlic punch that finishes with just a touch of a fiery tickle. I wouldn’t go so far as to call them spicy, but they’re spicier than your standard Cool Ranch or Nacho Cheese. Think heavy-handed garlic combined with black pepper.
The flavor rounds out with a buttermilk tang and a touch of dill for a flavor that is, appropriately, pretty ranch-y. As with all Doritos, some chips are very heavily seasoned, and others are merely speckled. The ones with the most seasoning are truly tang-tactic, veering on spicy, and the speckled ones are pretty mild.
My memory of Sonic Sour Cream! is a smoother taste with a particularly white powder that emphasized the creamy, like a cousin of white cheddar popcorn seasoning, and this definitely isn’t that. But I had to know how these compare to the OG, so I went back to the store and got Doritos Cool Ranch for a side by side, and yeah, these Tangy Ranch! really do lay on the garlic.
By comparison, the Cool Ranch chips are smoother, creamier, and noticeably less zesty, but not boring in the slightest. Cool Ranch has always been my favorite of the easy-to-find original line, and I stand by that opinion. They’re so so good and endlessly snackable; I never want to stop. If you’re a fan of Doritos Cool Ranch and aren’t afraid of a little garlic breath, Tangy Ranch! is definitely worth a shot.
Purchased Price: $1.99 Size: 2 3/4 ounce bag Purchased at: 7-Eleven Rating: 8 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (17 chips, 28g) 150 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.
Looks like Frito-Lay is taking a cue from the entertainment industry and rebooting some of its classics.
Now before you start whining about your “ruined childhoods” or your disdain about swapping Chester Cheetah from corn to potato, just take a step back and admit that you’re intrigued. You know you are. You can’t tell me the entire idea of Frito-Lay Flavor Swaps isn’t exciting. I won’t believe you.
In my opinion, this is the most exciting thing it’s done in years. I was way more pumped to try these than the usual “Do Us a Flavor” releases. I mean, I already know I love the flavors. I’ve been eating them my entire life. My only question is, will said flavors translate in a potato chip form?
I figured the best way to attack the review was to tackle each flavor one at a time, then obviously compare them to the iconic snacks that inspired them.
First off, I’m shocked these weren’t kettle chips. Usually, when Frito-Lay does one of its gimmicky multi-chip rollouts, each style of chip is represented. I’d imagine most people think of the Crunchy Cheetos when they hear the name, so a crunchier chip would have made sense.
Whatever, I’m more of a puff guy anyway, so I’m fine with the decision to just make these Cheetos-flavored normal(?) chips. #PuffGang sound off in the comments!
Initially, these just had a generic cheese flavor. If you told me they were some kind of fancy “sharp” cheddar without showing me the bag, I wouldn’t have ever guessed “Cheetos.”
Once I tried them side by side with the actual Cheetos, I got it. I had to jog my flavor memory, but they definitely taste like Cheetos.
So yeah, they deliver. These chips taste like Cheetos dust, but they’re a little weaker. Of course, therein lies the problem – they taste like Cheetos dust, not necessarily Cheetos. More on that topic when I review the next flavor.
Purchased Price: $1.99 Size: 2.63 oz bag Purchased at: Wawa Rating: 5 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (about 17 Chips) 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of total sugars, 1 gram of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.
Cool Ranch Doritos might be one of the ten greatest flavors to ever grace the Earth. How could they possibly mess this up?
Well, as it turns out when Cool Ranch dust isn’t on a triangular tortilla chip, it just kinda tastes like a remixed sour cream and onion. Actually, I’d say it’s more like 1/4 ranch and 3/4 sour cream and onion.
I think you could be fooled into thinking that’s what they are. The chips do have that classic Cool Ranch speckle to them, but it’s not nearly as caked-on as the Doritos you’re used to. It’s kind of a bummer.
I mean, once you know what they are, you’re definitely gonna taste the Cool Ranch, but these are more like a Diet Cool Ranch if that makes sense. These suffer from the same thing as the Cheetos chips – thin potato chips are not an ideal delivery system for these flavors.
To be fair, I’m accustomed to the norm, so that might be clouding my scoring. That being said, I just think this flavor needs the crisp of a tortilla chip to really shine.
Cheetos and Doritos are as much about texture as they are about flavor. Sure, I knew what I was getting into, but when you take away that key corn-based component from both of them, the flavors really don’t pop as much.
But look… it’s still Cool Ranch. Even if they lean sour cream, they’re still delicious. They’re just nowhere near the 10 out 10 Cool Ranch Doritos they’re mimicking.
Purchased Price: $3.00 Size: 7.25 oz bag Purchased at: Dollar General Rating: 6 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (about 17 Chips) 150 calories, 10 grams of fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of total sugars, less than 1 gram of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.
Now we’re talking!
For everything I just said about the texture of Cheetos and Doritos, Funyuns are the opposite for me. I love the flavor of Funyuns, but I absolutely hate the texture.
For all the crap Cap’n Crunch gets for shredding your palate, Funyuns should get double. They always taste stale and salty, so my mouth feels like the Sahara after chomping about seven rings.
These Funyuns-flavored chips are easily the best of the three, even though they probably have the most diminishing returns.
Whereas the Cheetos flavor bloomed as I went on, the onion flavor faded as I ate them, but Funyuns is the most lowkey flavor of the three, so it didn’t bother me. I ate the most of these in one sitting, and the first few chips were incredible.
The choice to make these wavy was also brilliant. Even though I don’t like the rings’ texture, I still appreciated a bit more crunch than the usual thin chips.
Purchased Price: $3.00 Size: 7.75 oz bag Purchased at: Dollar General Rating: 8 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (about 15 Chips) 150 calories, 9 grams of fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of total sugars, less than 1 gram of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.
So, I have to say Funyuns was the overall victor here. Can’t say I expected that. Maybe if Cool Ranch and Cheetos were wavy or kettle chips, they would have won out, but I guess we’ll never know.
Don’t get me wrong, these are all good, and I love the Flavor Swap concept, but two of the three suffer from the old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” adage.
One thing that really excites me about this release is that we might be one step closer to finally getting Frito-Lay-flavored dusts in the spice aisle. I’ve been calling for that since I was a kid. If you can sprinkle a potato chip with Cool Ranch, I should be able to sprinkle a piece of chicken with it. Let me put Cheetos dust on my burgers! Is that too much to ask?!
In the meantime, check these out. You know you’re probably gonna anyway. Cheetos and Doritos can’t be beat, but apparently, Funyuns can.
If these do well, we might even get some more swaps in the future. Please, keep ruining my childhood.