Flavor Explosion!!!

The good folks at Frito-Lay first got my attention with this commercial:

What that is is a commercial for a bag of corn chips sprinkled with flavor powder.  Well, plus a paean to the sexy classy party-all-night-lifestyle that most DDDT writers and readers enjoy.  Obviously, Doritos knows (and knows we know) that eating a bag of cheeseburger chips will not turn everything into sexy neon nighttime.  But Doritos thinks (and hopes we think) that that same bag of chips will sound really sophisticated and upscale when connected with that sort of lifestyle.  It’s a funny line they walk.  If you add cheeseburger powder to a bag of chips and call them “Cheeseburger flavored,” we all instantly think of a sloppy fat truck driver eating a greasy cheesburger.  No sale.  That’s the genius of “LATE NIGHT: all nighter Cheeseburger.”  You see, I have a brother who lives in New York City, so I know that “LATE NIGHT: all nighter Cheeseburger” means that you went out to a super fancy restaurant for dinner at 10:30 (that’s dinner time for partiers), then you danced in dancing clubs for like five hours, and then you went and got a cheeseburger.  See, when you’re super fancy and urban, you don’t eat a cheeseburger for dinner.  But as a totally slumming way of winding down from a vodka fueled night on the town?  Perfect.  Cheeseburger= white trash.  LATE NIGHT: all nighter Cheeseburger=semi-ironic hipster concession for hotties.  Perfect!

But does a late night cheeseburger taste any different from a regular cheeseburger?  Just ask yourself this: Does a beautiful hipster taste different from a fat trucker?  I actually don’t know the answer to that.  But still, I want to discuss flavor, because this is what Doritos says about the flavor of LATE NIGHT: all nighter Cheeseburger:  “Every chip will remind you of your favorite burger joint. The pickles. The onions. Ketchup and mustard. Melted cheese, and flame-kissed beef.”  Okay, so what does it taste like?  Pickles, onions, ketchup, mustard, cheese, and beef.  Presumably, there’s some ground corn taste in the mix as well (and salt- something tells me there’s salt).  So . . . eight flavors, seven of them powdered.

So then yesterday my family went up the canyon and had a picnic for Labor Day.  Somebody showed up with a little bag of these:


Now anyone who knows me well knows that I love Cheetos.  But wow– Ragin’Cajun (one word, fiery fed font) AND Tangy Ranch AND a background of the familiar cheesy taste you’re used to, AND the Cheetos are chopped down into popcorn-shaped bites?  And then to tie it all together, you call it “Cheetos: mighty zingers.”  It’s like they don’t even give a crap what the stuff actually tastes like.  The point is to just throw a ton of stuff out there and try and fry some tastebuds.  I ate a handful and my tongue pretty much went off-line for a couple minutes.  Who decided that Ragin’Cajun couldn’t be its own Cheetos flavor?  And has there ever been an instance in America before when cajun flavoring (origin: Louisiana) was mixed with Ranch flavoring (origin: the rolling ranching hills of California)?  And then thrown into a cluster of cheese flavored corn puffs (origin: purely synthetic in every possible way).  It all calls to mind the advice of Kahmunrah to Darth Vader:

Seriously, Frito-Lay, what is going on here?  Why have we had this crazy flavor escalation?  A little further research reveals that there are now Cheetos (which is the one product that already has a very identifiable flavor that defines its brand) flavored with Chile Limon, Cheddar Jalapeno, Sharp Cheddar AND Salsa Picante, and Wild Habanero and Cheese.  Seriously, they’ve gone crazy over there.  And the Doritos product list is even more picante– there are “Pizza Cravers and Ranch,” “Cheesy Enchilada and Sour Cream” and now (I’m not making this up) “First-Degree Burn,” “Second-Degree Burn” and “Third-Degree Burn” Doritos, powered by Jalapenos, Habaneros, and Buffalo Wings.  This situation is totally out of control, and it needs to stop.

Let me speak out as one brave citizen and just say this: You can’t put the flavor of an enchilada and sour cream and cheese in a chip.  And you can’t put the flavor of a late night taco there either.  This isn’t Willy-Wonka land.  And you especially can’t put the flavor of a metrosexual party-boy’s life in a snack bag.  And also, no one wants to get burned by eating processed corn chips.  Even if it’s just sort of a playful, fictional threat, it doesn’t draw anyone to your chips, except for maybe some fourteen year old extreme daredevils who might want to incorporate it into their dirt bike stunts.  Please, Frito-Lay, put the flavor powder down.  Let’s go back to the time when a bag of chips was just a bag of chips.

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14 Responses to Flavor Explosion!!!

  1. Christian says:

    I hadn’t seen that cheeseburger flavor chips commercial and it is easily one of the weirdest commercials ever. I just don’t get it. They think we are so dumb. I guess we really must be that dumb most of the time. But seriously, someone needs to be fired for that commercial. So odd.

    And another thing; I’m getting tired of hipsters. Hey hipsters, you’re not hip any more. It’s you and 3 billion other sheep just like you. If you don’t care about being hip, and you simply like that kind of style/music/mullet/mustache, then no problem. But if you think you’re still making a statement, You’re right, but the statement has changed from “I’m an original, artistic, cool, urban person” to “baaaaaa. baaaaaaaaaaaaaa. baa”

  2. Ben Pratt says:

    Hipsters make me cry. Unfortunately for them, each of my tears turns nearby storefronts into huge corporate record labels and turns hot dog carts into That-Indie-Band-You-Like selling out to huge corporate record labels. My tears have also been known to make articles of clothing match each other and fit the wearer. Sorry, hipsters, but you started it.

  3. Davis says:

    I just don’t really understand what is going on in advertising these days. I really don’t. Is it working? Maybe it’s working.

  4. Ryan says:

    Lol Ben. It’s awesome that applauding selling out is now the new edgy. Love it.

    Turns out that America really might be pretty dumb, judging from this sort of thing. That or our culture is defined by the tastes of our nine year olds. Maybe we need to stop giving our kids allowances so that they won’t have any more buying power and Frito Lay can go back to ignoring them and just giving us the explosive cheesiness we’ve always loved.

  5. Ben Pratt says:

    I have to say that I just watched the above-referenced movie last night, so the Darth Vader clip was pretty timely.

    It’s so true, though, about the cold war between advertisers and consumers. Admen keep hitting us harder with MORE and BIGGER and MODIFIED BY SEVERAL UNNECESSARY ADJECTIVES, but we consumers retaliate by finally understanding what CREDIT means, by being UNEMPLOYED, and by muttering MEH and watching another viral video.

  6. Wade says:

    MBAs. Blame this all on those empty suit MBAs and their brainstorming, channel partnering, market testing, product line expanding, little minds. Also Cool Ranch Doritos. This would have never happened if we never picked up that first bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. It was all downhill from there.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Andrew loves to tell me “there are no bad ideas in brainstorming” and I am always quick to assure him that there are. These chips and this ad just prove my point. Thanks for that.

  8. Davis says:

    Wade, I picked up a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos yesterday, and I have to say, it was worth all those terrible commercials. Very much so.

  9. Ryan says:

    Wade, you could not be more right, and Davis, you could not be more wrong. Honestly, I just don’t know if I can be friends with anyone who thinks Dorito-Brand corn chip snack products with flavor dust are a worthwhile thing to put in their mouth. Honestly makes me a little sick to think about.

    Lol, Elizabeth. I actually strongly agree with Andrew about there being no bad ideas in brainstorming. However, Ragin’Cajun/Tangy Ranch Cheetos Mighty Zingers are not a brainstorm. They ARE A PRODUCT! On store shelves today. I applaud the person who was brave enough to have that brainstorm. I curse the person who was stupid enough to think it was a winner. Horrible, horrible idea (but again, decent brainstorm).

  10. StefStar says:

    “…our culture is defined by the tastes of our nine year olds.”

    I think the bigger problem our culture is defined by the attention span of our nine year olds…and what I mean is that all humans now have the attention span of a nine year old. So advertisers don’t know how to keep selling a good thing. They think the very nature of advertising demands change–and maybe it does, but I’m not sure the answer is to change the product. That seems like product strategy, not advertising strategy. I guess there’s no longer a difference between the two. I’m always amazed by the constant metamorphosis undergone by snacks, cereals, toilet paper, and Glade products, to name a few. I admit these companies have a tough job selling the same dang thing all the time, but as my dad likes to say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

    PS I love Doritos. In a nine-year-old kind of way.

  11. Troy says:

    Seriously, is there any worse breath than someone who has been eating flavored chips? That chick just killed a bag of cheesburger chips, and now she’s walking into a dance club? With her fingers smelling like cheeseburger corn saliva? Those clubber dudes are in for a treat.

  12. Awesome post, Ryan. I’m with ya. lol Troy.

  13. Zack says:

    Seriously, I remember trying to eat some Cool Ranch before church dances because they tasted so good, but I never got any phone numbers on those nights…or any other nights. How are they trying to make eating Doritos before going anywhere in public – especially clubbin, seem okay? I actually tried some of these chips and all I got was a strong mustard flavor, which is exactly what I think of when I’m biting into a delicious late-night cheeseburger. For a lunch-time cheeseburger, I like more of a BBQ flavor. FYI, the Jalapeno Cheddar Cheetos are the best tasting chips I’ve ever tasted…seriously. Cheetos nailed that one right on. Now if they could just market it like Doritos nailed the Cheeseburger commercial.

  14. Braden says:

    I am late, to this post, but I want to join the Revolution. BTW, I have a theory. I stopped watching tv a few years ago almost completely. So, I’m not exposed to much advertising. Now, when I am, I think it’s all stupid. I think there is some sort of cumulative effect–the more you see, the easier it is to buy into it. It’s some kind of Groupthink thing, which is why the advertising people do such stupid things–they’re basically all acting on the last idea, and going on more.

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