There was no sense of surprise when I read that Frito-Lay was releasing a Tapatio-flavored version of their Doritos chips, based on the popular hot sauce. (They're also rolling out Tapatio Fritos and Ruffles.) The R&D team at the Plano-based snack company is always tinkering with taste buds. A former employee of Frito-Lay told me, "The only flavor profile the food scientists at the chip company haven't been able to replicate is mole." Again, no surprise. Mole is one of those dishes best made by Mama. It's like meatloaf. It's like red sauce. It's like fried chicken. Unfortunately, Alexia Allina, a spokesperson for Frito-Lay, was unable to corroborate that information. "We don't typically talk about flavors that haven't been fully developed."
What she did say was that the Tapatio flavor's genesis was kick-started because Frito-Lay wanted to offer customers something they were familiar with. "In the West and central parts of the United States, people are always looking for spicier food. They were already acquainted with Tapatio, putting the hot sauce on our chips. We combined the two ingredients."
And seeing how Tapatio Salsa Picante has had a constant presence in my fridge for more than decade -- one of the applications is on tortilla chips -- I jumped at the opportunity to eat some. Could they be any worse than the taco Doritos?
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The answer is no. The new offering is more like some lab worker took a bottle of the hot sauce, sliced its base and allowed the contents to drown a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos. The taste was an excessive blast, unexpected and unwanted. What I was eating wasn't a novel form of the condiment I put on my eggs in the morning. It was gratuitous, heavy with fire and garlic.
That being said, they're not bad. They're just not very good. The Tapatio chips retain the slight cardboard finish characteristic of Doritos, something that would most likely work crunched to bits and used as a garnish to your Doritos taco shells.