REVIEW: Smartfood Doritos Nacho Cheese Popcorn

Smartfood Doritos Nacho Cheese Popcorn Bag

What is Smartfood Doritos Nacho Cheese Popcorn?

Kicking off the year strong, Frito-Lay created a Sam’s Club exclusive variety of its popular Smartfood Popcorn that uses the classic Doritos Nacho Cheese seasoning. It offers the flavor of Nacho Cheese Doritos, but without the stained fingers you might get with the chips.

How is it?

Smartfood Doritos Nacho Cheese Popcorn Bowl

The flavor of Nacho Cheese Doritos is strongly present but without the expected crunch of the tortilla chip or corn flavor. Admittedly, it was a little jarring at first. Once my mouth and brain took a moment to adjust expectations, it was a very delicious snack. Without the chip’s corn flavor, you get a chance to really taste the different elements of the nacho cheese seasoning. The garlic, onion, and paprika shine the most, with the cheese flavor coming in subtle at the end.

Anything else you need to know?

Smartfood Doritos Nacho Cheese Popcorn Bag Back

Because this is available at Sam’s Club, the item is over 2.5 times bigger than the standard Smartfood bag. If you don’t want to open it yet, you can always use it as a lower back pillow when you’re sitting at your desk.

Conclusion:

Smartfood’s Doritos Nacho Cheese Popcorn is an all-around enjoyable item. It’s a nice blend of Smartfood Popcorn and Doritos Nacho Cheese that feels new, but familiar. I could absolutely see it being a hit at parties or as a new snack to break up the normal noshing. Hopefully, it does well enough that we get other crossover flavors in the future. Maybe some Smartfood Flamin’ Hot Dill Pickle Popcorn?

Purchased Price: $5.28
Size: 17 oz bag
Purchased at: Sam’s Club
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2 1/3 cup) 160 calories, 11 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 1 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Cocoa Puffs Popcorn

Cocoa Puffs Popcorn Bag

What is Cocoa Puffs Popcorn?

Cuckoo for cocoa-dust glazed pre-popped popcorn? In Big Cereal’s quest to infiltrate nearly every other snack product on the market, this time, it’s mating with popcorn.

How is it?

1) Better than I expected, but 2) I’ll admit, I went into it with fairly low expectations. The cocoa glaze coating was pretty thorough, blanketing probably 85% of the pieces (and at least lightly touching the rest), and it uncannily mimicked the breakfast favorite that drives birds wild.

Cocoa Puffs Popcorn Super Closeup

The popcorn had a deep chocolate taste, but if I have a complaint, it was that it was lacking a bit in the salt department. Feels like if you’re gonna go sweet/salty, you really should, you know, GO for it. Some of the pieces were a bit hard, too, which was a bit off-putting.

Anything else you need to know?

Sonny, the cartoon bird, turns 50 next year. When originally introduced, he was wearing a pink and white striped shirt, he started wearing “extreme” clothes in the mid-90s, and now he’s just straight up nude. (Though when he’s in his deepest throes of madness, he’s depicted in a straight-jacket.)

Conclusion:

I made it four decades without consuming chocolate popcorn. This is weird because I love popcorn and I love chocolate. I will definitely finish this bag, and the next time I’m at one of those wondrous gourmet popcorn shops with like, 50 flavors, I’ll be more inclined to try a chocolate variety.

Purchased Price: $3.28
Size: 7 oz bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (3/4 cup) 130 calories, 3 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 15 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Cheez-It Loaded Popcorn

Cheez It Loaded Popcorn Bags

What is Cheez-It Loaded Popcorn?

The well-known cheese cracker brand, turning 100 years old in 2021, branches out to test its flavors on popcorn. While Cheez-It uses the term “Loaded” in bold print, the popcorn comes in the two very straightforward flavors of cheddar and white cheddar.

How is it?

Cheez It Loaded Popcorn Cheddar

When first trying the cheddar popcorn, the initial salty notes were quickly followed by an unexpected hit of sweetness. I had to double-check the bag to see if Cheez-It was attempting “Chicago-style,” where they mix caramel and cheese popcorn together. Nope. It’s just a surprisingly odd flavor to cheddar popcorn. It took some effort to get past the unusual taste to even recognize the subtle cheese flavor in the Cheez-It Loaded Cheddar Popcorn. Even after eating, an unpleasant mixture of flavors lingers in the mouth.

Cheez It Loaded Popcorn White Cheddar

The flavor of the white cheddar popcorn is far more recognizable and satisfying. The Cheez-It Loaded White Cheddar Popcorn instantly delivers on salty and sharp, almost Parmesan, notes of aged white cheddar. The sweetness, while still present, is more forgivable when it is properly counterbalanced by the more tangy cheese flavor as well as hints of onion and garlic. Overall the popcorn delivers a decent flavor that might not be a new go-to snack but will have you reaching for a second handful.

Anything else you need to know?

Cheez-It opted for all mushroom-shaped kernels, the more uniform globe shape, as opposed to butterfly-shaped. This means the Cheez-It Loaded Popcorn is slightly less tender but is said to have far less tiny pieces accumulating at the bottom of the bag. My bag of white cheddar still had a generous amount of broken pieces on the bottom. I never came close to the bottom of the cheddar flavor.

Conclusion:

As a child, I was always thrilled when my family would be gifted a large popcorn tin for the holidays with a cardboard insert that would separate the plain buttered, caramel, and cheese popcorn. Reminiscent of Homer Simpson eating all the chocolate out of numerous cartons of Neapolitan ice cream, my brother and I would devour the cheese section to the bottom of the tin while the others remained largely untouched.

If you share my love for cheesy popcorn, you could do worse than Cheez-It Loaded White Cheddar Popcorn. In fact, worse will be displayed right next to it in cheddar flavor.

Purchased Price: $3.99 each
Size: 6 oz bags
Purchased at: Lucky Supermarket
Rating: 3 out of 10 (Cheddar), 6 out of 10 (White Cheddar)
Nutrition Facts: (2 cups/31 grams) Cheddar – 170 Calories, 12 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, less than 5 milligrams cholesterol, 300 milligrams sodium, 14 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams dietary fiber, 1 gram total sugars, 3 grams protein. White Cheddar – 170 Calories, 12 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, less than 5 milligrams cholesterol, 270 milligrams sodium, 15 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams dietary fiber, 2 grams total sugars, 3 grams protein.

REVIEW: Cheetos Crunch Pop Mix

Cheetos Crunch Pop Mix Bag

What is Cheetos Crunch Pop Mix?

If you have tiny panic attacks trying to decide which popped or fried processed corn snack you want to buy at the grocery store, Frito-Lay has swooped in and made things worse with another option — Cheetos Crunch Pop Mix. As a follow-up to 2020’s Cheetos Popcorn, the popped corn has a new corny best friend that goes by the name of Crunchy Cheetos.

How is it?

I won’t lie, when I first saw the announcement of this product, I thought it was kind of dumb, but this cheesy mix SMACKS. I’m a bigger lover of popcorn than I am Cheetos, and I don’t buy regular Crunchy Cheetos very often, but this serves as a great reminder of how satisfying the classics are. The bag is loaded with cheesy seasoning (cheetle) and is as beautifully luminously orange as ever.

Cheetos Crunch Pop Mix Closeup

In general, Cheetos are a solid snack but can be kind of heavy and greasy when eaten in large quantities, no matter the flavor. The popcorn acts as a perfect companion to the denser, greasy Cheetos. It allows for a full-on salty and creamy snack spiral without the heftiness.

It’s a fun textural juxtaposition to have two totally different types of corn with the same seasoning. They taste and feel pretty different but maintain the intense glowing cheesy symphony that builds as I crunch and crunch and crunch.

Anything else you need to know?

I would love to see a bag with Cheetos’ classic cheesy and spicy flavors combined. Perhaps incorporating Cheetos popcorn with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos for an addictive back and forth.

Conclusion:

This simple little snack surprised me, and if you like the salty cheddar explosion from Chester, there’s no way you won’t enjoy going for a cheesy dive into Crunch Pop Mix.

Purchased Price: $3.50
Size: 2.75 oz bag
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 cup/28 grams) 160 calories, 11 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 250 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Smartfood Snickerdoodle Popcorn

Smartfood Snickerdoodle Popcorn Bag

What is Smartfood Snickerdoodle Popcorn

From the pre-popped popcorn giant Smartfood comes Snickerdoodle, a “limited holiday flavor” meant to capture the magical, Home Ec essence of buttery cinnamon-sugar cookies. It is not Smartfood’s only sweet popcorn offering. Its regular lineup includes kettle corn and a caramel/cheddar combo. But it ties with this year’s earlier offerings of Caramel & Cinnamon Apple Mix and Cap’n Crunch Berries Popcorn Mix in terms of ambitiousness.

How is it?

Perfectly mediocre, I’m afraid. While the concept is a wonderful one — soft, warm, cinnamon blasted cookies in popcorn form! — the execution is lackluster. There is no uniformity, really, with about every tenth piece achieving a perfect nirvana of true Snickerdoodle bliss.

Smartfood Snickerdoodle Popcorn Seasoning

The pieces that escape the cinnamon-sugar bath are bland and unseasoned, small, chewy bits of lightly salted styrofoam. Also disappointing is the lack of a discernible butter profile, a key component of the cookie experience.

Anything else you need to know?

Smartfood White Cheddar is wonderful, so I had high hopes for this. Alas, my heart was broken. Additionally, I had no idea that the brand also has Hot Buffalo and Sour Cream & Onion versions. Are these any good? I guess that’s more of a “anything else *I* need to know.”

Conclusion:

Lots of moderately sized cities seem to have “gourmet” popcorn shops these days, and, in my experience, most of these have some riff on the “cinnamon toast” popcorn variety. So do yourself a favor and get a bag of that, instead. Chances are, you’ll be much happier.

If you don’t have a gourmet popcorn shop, you should open one. And if you don’t want to do that, maybe go with a bag of Pop Secret and hit it with some of the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnadust we recently reviewed. I feel like that would still beat this.

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 6.25 oz bag
Purchased at: Hy-Vee
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2.5 cups) 150 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.