I have written before about my enthusiasm for new flavors of Doritos. I’ll try most any Doritos flavor once. No better example of that exists than an occurrence that took place at a Kum & Go in Iowa over the recent Memorial Day holiday. Dorito shopping tends to be better away from home, because they try different flavors in different markets. Sadly, this means there are probably some Pipeline People who have never enjoyed the sensation of the season, Wild White Nacho.
The Kum & Go didn’t disappoint. True to form, they did have a Doritos flavor I had never seen…or even remotely contemplated. The bag was black, with “X-13D” printed in large, white, plain letters. Smaller writing indicated this was a “test flavor” and a bunch of other bullcrap about how top secret something was, or whatever. All they had to tell me was it was a new flavor, and give it a name.
I was fine enough with the name X-13D. I’d prefer my food to have descriptive or otherwise meaningful names, but as long as they keep the new Dorito flavors coming I’m not going to complain. X-13D it was, glad to know you, hope you’re good, and that if you are really good you are good enough that I can always get you in any convenience store, not some of this flavor rotation crap.
I settled into the driver’s seat for my rotation on the drive to Kansas. I open the X-13D’s. They smelled…like many other kinds of cheesy Doritos. Good start, the cheese flavors are always the best. I ate one. It was strange, and I couldn’t place the flavor. Jane tried one and said, “Cheeseburger”. I tried another and said nothing, but I was starting to have doubts. I always know, right from the start, whether me and a Dorito are going to make it.
I decided maybe the name really was the problem, that I just couldn’t wrap my tastebud/brain connection around a name like X-13D, which inspired little more than thoughts about chemical artificiality, test tubes and labs. Maybe it’s just me, but “Bitchin’ Bacon Cheeseburger” seems a little more inspiring than X-13D.
Well, Frito Lay wasn’t going to give me any hints with a name, so I dug deeper to come up with my own name. I turned the bag around and read the ingredient list. Cheeses, tomato powders, garlic, onion, blah, blah, I mean it’s like they emptied the spice cupboard out on these chips. It ended up being something that probably tasted great on paper but ended up an undefinable amalgamation of competing flavors. When something doesn’t taste like anything you can name, it can be hard to name it in a way that will make people want to buy it. Which is why the Doritos people have kicked this flavor to the public to name and advertise.
I got to the end of the ingredient list and saw something that disturbed me. It was “beef tallow”. I have no idea why that would bother me, as I’m a dedicated meat eater who in particular enjoys the beef. But there’s something about that word “tallow”. I just don’t like that, even though I have no idea what tallow is. For some reason, it makes me think of a cow’s hooves. And for some reason, the strangeness of the human appetite that has me so enjoy a cow’s hindquarters leaves me gagging at the thought of having cow hooves sprinkled all over my X-13D Doritos.
“What?” said Jane.
“There’s beef tallow in these Doritos. What is beef tallow?”
She didn’t know, and it didn’t matter. X-13D was dead to me. It wasn’t because of the beef tallow; we were already on bad terms by then anyway. But the beef tallow just seemed so wrong, so unnecessary. Did they really have to put everything they had in?
To this day, I still don’t know what beef tallow is, but I’m about to change that. I’m going to go Google it right now, and if it’s really cow hooves I’m going to be very alarmed and smug at the same time. Hang on…
Allright. Tallow is fat. It thus turns out I’ve eaten my share of beef tallow over the years, but I’m still bothered by its presence in my chips. I doubt it’s really necessary for Frito Lay to add fat to Doritos; if 80 spices aren’t getting you the flavor you need, maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board.