What is Smartfood Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut Popcorn?
Smartfood welcomes fall with a limited time cinnamon sugar doughnut-flavored popcorn.
How is it?
I had a sinking suspicion that this popcorn was last year’s Christmas themed-Snickerdoodle Smartfood with a new name and an earlier release date — and I was 100% correct. This red and shiny bag of delight tastes identical to 2020’s green and shiny bag of delight, and I love it just as much as I loved it last year; if anything, it might be slightly better.
The doughnut dust is slightly sweet and buttery with a rich and aromatic cinnamon taste that perfectly fits next to a popcorn kernel’s earthy crunch. The pieces are uniformly coated and have a fresh snap to them, with the cinnamon sugar flavor really bursting through on each bite.
Although this is Smartfood’s second doughnut release, it’s important to note that this is not a coated corn adjacent to caramel corn (the glaze in the Krispy Kreme version) but simply a powder, like Smartfood’s classic White Cheddar.
Anything else you need to know?
I brought this up in a short review on Instagram last year, but no one else seemed to notice: this popcorn seasoning is Cheetos Sweetos dust. I knew instantly because I ADORE Sweetos and could recognize that sweet cinnamon-y cheetle anywhere (I’ve had over ten bags since their inception), and this year I was able to confirm it. For the first time ever, Cheetos’ Bag of Bones is available in Cinnamon Sugar (aka spooky Sweetos), and the ingredients check out – brown sugar, spices (including cinnamon), buttermilk, and molasses – they’re the same.
Smartfood cinnamon sugar-flavored popcorn, whether it’s supposed to taste like a doughnut or cookie, is absolutely delicious. It’s a higher volume and lower calorie way to get my Sweetos fix, and while it may not have the same oily fatty airy crunch of a puffed Cheeto, it has the satisfying salty snap of popcorn, and I’m already trying to hunt down my next bag.
Purchased Price: $1.99 Size: 2 oz bag Purchased at: ampm Rating: 9 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (2 1/2 cups – 28 grams) 150 calories, 8 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 fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 2 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.
Mexican Street Corn, often referred to by its proper street name, elote, which roughly means “corn cob” in Spanish, is grilled corn covered in mayonnaise or sour cream, topped with chili powder, Cotija cheese, and lime.
Growing up in California’s Bay Area, I came across this savory delight every week, oftentimes from street vendors also peddling Chicharones de Harina, fried orange wheel chips soaked in lemon juice and Valentina hot sauce, and on a lucky day, mango adorned with a generous sprinkling of Tajín. Needless to say, these are good eats.
I’ve also come across a more modern trend where the traditional Cotija cheese that cakes the outside of the grilled corn is replaced with crunched up Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, which brings me to the natural progression and potential dream creation of Mexican Street Corn Cheetos.
The bag boldly states “TANGY – SPICY – CHEESY” on both the front and back, so before digging in, even though I’ve had actual elote, I know exactly what I’m expecting. The aroma from the slightly slime-colored but eye-catching green bag nails those three elements. I get a citrusy tang flirting with spice and a general fried smell wafting up from the uniquely yellow-tinted crunchy Cheetos.
The first thing I notice in the flavor is the cheese, but it’s not the typical cheddar-meets-nacho kind of artificial cheese that defines Cheetle seasoning. It’s sharper with a touch of that umami quality you get from parmesan with its earthiness and slight funk. Not only is it cheesy, but it’s also creamy, with the distinct tang of sour cream that really stands out with a hint of buttery richness as well. Cotija cheese is really similar to parmesan when dried and aged, and I’m impressed with the depth and uniqueness of this cheesy flavor that is truly as luscious as something that’s crunchy can be.
The cheesiness is followed quickly by the taste of lime and rounded out by spice, but it’s far from the type of spicy usually associated with the brand. It’s a much more of an ancho chili powder taste than heat, and the flavor does a pretty good job of emulating the balance of an elote experience, which isn’t particularly hot. There are also notes of garlic and onion floating in the background.
Since the first ingredient in Cheetos is enriched corn meal, it goes without saying that the corn-flavored chips have an inherent corniness to them that permeates every bite. The only thing absent from the profile of an actual elote stick is the sweetness of fresh corn, which Trader Joe’s added to its sensational Elote Organic Corn Chip Dippers (my favorite chip of all time). But I don’t really mind that missing element here. The cheesiness’s depth and tang are impressive, and they make these Cheetos unlike any that I’ve had before.
Purchased Price: $1.99 Size: 3.25 oz bag Purchased at: 7-Eleven Rating: 9 out of 10 Nutrition Facts: (21 pieces – 28 grams) 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.