Ed Driscoll

LILEKS UNDERSTANDS

One of the many gulty pleasures of my mispent youth were taco-flavored Doritos. James Lileks understands what it’s like to be addicted:

Doritos came along in early childhood. One flavor: Taco. That was it. How they reproduced the flavor of lettuce I’ll never know. They were brownish and delicious and capable of producing acne in truly amazing quantities, even if you ground them up and inhaled them. But Taco was just the warm-up; in the late ’70s, I think, Doritos rolled out Nacho Cheese, and Taco didn’t stand a chance. Now and then I see a bag; I buy them, eat them, wash them down with Mr. Pibb and curse progress in all its forms.

Taco flavor failed because it gave too much. It cared too much. Every bite was bursting with chemicals. Nacho Cheese, on the other hand, was indifferently dusted; the amount of Nacho particles varied from batch to batch. Why? Why not douse every Dorito with Nacho flavor? Was there a strike in the Nacho mines, and production had halted? Had the Nacho Cartel cut back on supply to boost the price? Then you’d buy a bag that just plain got it right — your hand would wear a furry orange Nacho mitt after a few dips in the package. You could only imagine that some employee had fought his way into the control room, duct-taped the engineers to their chairs, commandeered the machinery and set the Nacho dials to 11 while his captives gaped in horror: Good Lord, man! American palates cannot handle that amount of savory Nacho flavor! “I say they can! I strike this blow for under-Nachoed mouths across this land!” Then the next bag would be back to normal. (Recently Doritos relabeled their bags “Nacho Cheesier!” as if to say “sorry about the insufficiently flavored machine-formed corn triangles.” Apology accepted.)

He’s right. If ever a snack food cared too much, it was taco-flavored Doritos.

(Later on, I discovered they go very…interestingly with Martinis. Especially when watching The Harder They Come in your appartment at 1:00 in the morning.)