Taste Test: The Doritos Locos Taco
The existence of the Doritos Locos Taco was something I only became aware of in late February of this year, when a couple of StewOver editors and various other Midwesterners were out West on a visit. The discussion then was whether anyone had seen one of the trailers that were evidently traveling around testing out the most ludicrous of food stuffs, a Taco Bell taco with a Doritos Nacho Cheese shell. Shortly thereafter I saw the commercial that introduced us to both the national rollout and Matt who, with his racially diverse group of friends, drove 965 miles to try out this most American of creations (think about it: it’s co-opted from Mexico and then utterly corrupted, it’s highly processed, it’s bad for you, and it’s made of subsidized corn, cows fed by subsidized corn, lettuce picked by migrant Hispanic workers, and chemicals).
Before we go any further, I think it would be intellectually dishonest of me to not confess something. You see, I like Taco Bell. I can hear what your saying already, “But it’s terrible for you!” True. “It’s really not very flavorful.” Also true. “You live in Denver where there’s a Qdoba or Chipotle on every other corner, if you’re going to do fast food mexican why not one of those?” I know, those places are perfectly fine, but when the wife is working late or taking clients out for dinner and I’m on my own, I run for the border (please forgive that ancient and racially insensitive pun). It’s my shameful little secret and one I don’t share readily. But there it is.
All that said, the one time I had been through the Taco Bell drive-thru since the Doritos Taco came to Denver I, just couldn’t bring myself to order one. Look I’ve ordered Baja Blast (a sort of sweet, blue Mountain Dew variety) before, but a Doritos Taco seemed too silly. Tonight though, with this taste test as my motivation, I broke down and tried the Doritos Locos taco. Here’s what I found out.
The Unwrapping: Right away the Taco Bell Doritos Locos Taco had a surprise for me. The taco, before being wrapped in wax paper, had been placed in a cardboard sleeve emblazoned with the Doritos Nacho Cheese logo. As though at some point between ordering it and unwrapping it you might have forgotten the sublimely ridiculous act of ordering a Doritos taco. More likely of course is that someone over at Frito Lay became concerned that Taco Bell would get all the publicity from the Doritos Taco and so they negotiated an extra bit of branding to be included in the packaging.
The Shell: When I heard that there was going to be a Doritos Taco the first thing I wondered about it was would the taco shell be a standard Taco Bell crunchy taco shell dusted with Doritos’ neon orange Nacho Cheese powder or would it be made out of honest to goodness, actual Nacho Cheese Doritos molded into a taco shell rather than triangle? While the answer would turn out to be closer to the former than the latter, but really it was neither. Before eating the taco proper I broke a bit of shell off the top to see what it was like on its own. It reminded me in texture, taste, and most of all, smell of nothing so much as off brand Nacho Cheese Corn Chips. The shell wasn’t as crispy as a standard Taco Bell crunchy taco shell or a regular Doritos chip and sadly lacked any structural integrity, splitting down the center as soon as it was removed from its cardboard sleeve. The cheese powder meanwhile, wasn’t as cheesy as a regular Doritos chip. So this shell is neither Taco Bell shell or Doritos chip, but something else manufactured just for this promotion. Update: Apparently the taco shell is actually made out of the same material as Doritos. So I guess whatever they had to do to it to make it into a taco shell fundamentally changed its nature, because it really seemed like neither shell nor chip to me.
The Whole Package: After trying out the shell I tried out the taco as a whole. Disappointingly, the Doritos Locos Taco tastes remarkably like a regular old Taco Bell crunchy taco. The nacho cheese powder fails to deliver anything noteworthy beyond orange finger tips as the wilted lettuce, a few scraggly scraps of shredded Yum Brand Foods cheese substance, and Taco Bell’s “there’s-some-meat-in-there” meat filling is too much mediocrity to defeat. I suspected that there maybe some latent cheesiness there from all that cheese powder, so I followed up the Doritos Taco with a regular crunchy taco for comparison and came away convinced that they really tasted almost exactly the same.
Let’s go back to Matt, the likely fictitious kid who drove roughly the distance from Denver to Chicago to tryout a Taco Bell taco with a Doritos shell. Matt likely spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $350 dollars (as well as 24 hours in the car) to basically eat the same taco he could have gotten from his local Taco Bell, minus the orange fingers. Unlike Matt though, the Doritos Taco didn’t have me rocking back in food induced joy. The next time I find myself shamefully shoving Taco Bell in my food hole I’ll stick with the original taco.