With the condiment duo, Doritos seemed to be evoking a nostalgic, all-American summer of burgers and hot dogs served at ballparks and backyard cookouts. But there’s some global influence at play, too — the mustard flavor was inspired by the hot Chinese style, according to the brand, and ketchup-flavored chips are a bestseller in Canada and beloved in the United Kingdom.
So how do the new styles stack up against the classics? All three taste unmistakably, and strongly, of their inspirations, so our hats are off to the flavor-makers in the Doritos laboratories for nailing them with such accuracy. The red-hued version captured the sweet-edged, tomato-paste quality of President Donald Trump’s preferred alleged tantrum missile, along with that familiar balancing, salty tang. A colleague who is an avowed fan of ketchup-flavored crisps (so much so that he imports them from across the pond) dubbed them a stateside favorite.
Eating a handful of the mustard chips instantly called to mind dipping fried wontons into spicy mustard at the Chinese restaurants of my youth, with a similarly sinus-clearing effect — to be fair, they are dubbed “Spicy Mustard,” so you should consider yourself warned on that front. The tamarind tortillas, too, offered an intense, concentrated reflection of their namesake. With this flavor, in addition to a fruity sweetness, there is a strong acidic, citrus-like note (again, Doritos is doing some truth-in-advertising by labeling them “Tangy Tamarind”) that brings to mind the assertive profile of Tostitos’ misnomer “Hint of Lime” chips. “They’re the Sour Patch Kids of chips,” said one puckering colleague.
And if you like the experience of accumulating Doritos dust on your fingers (apparently, people do — the residue was a signature quality that Taco Bell deliberately incorporated into its Dorito shells), then the tamarind chips offer you a brick-red alternative coating for your chip-shoveling digits.
My verdict? As faithful re-creations as they are, I’d put all three of the new Doritos in the category of interesting-but-not-addictive. They remind me that there’s a reason that ketchup and mustard — and tamarind chutney, for that matter — are condiments and not main dishes. They’re the a snack-world version of Jennifer Coolidge — delightful as a character actress, but do I want to watch her for two hours in a lead role? Eh, probably not.
At the end of the day (definitely not the end of the bag; no way am I getting that far), these are chips I most admire for the feat of capturing flavors that, it turns out, I think are best enjoyed in small quantities.