It’s been almost a full year since the folks at Taco Bell teamed up with snackmaker Frito-Lay to bring what many hailed to be the crowning achievement in junk food: Doritos Locos Tacos, with the filling of a regular Taco Bell taco spooned inside a crunchy shell made of Nacho Cheese Doritos. Plenty of market research went into this product, and the end result, not surprisingly, was exactly as I described — all placed inside a branded, red-cardboard sleeve that ingeniously prevented the sticky flavor dust of Doritos from making your fingers all orange.
Of course, fast food aficionados rejoiced at this collaboration of two junk food giants, while those who prefer cooking with fresh ingredients winced at the state of humanity. However, the former prevailed in mainstream popularity, and in response, the two companies have teamed up again to give their fans exactly what they’ve wanted: Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos.
The Claim: Taco Bell’s Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos are exactly what you think they are, like it or not: seasoned ground beef, shredded lettuce and cheddar cheese inside a hard shell made of Doritos of the Cool Ranch variety (160 calories). They also come in Supreme style (200 calories), with added sour cream and diced tomatoes. Both products go nationwide to the public on March 7, although there are ways to have it before then by following Taco Bell’s social media streams. (I got it at a florist in New York City, by asking for the secret “blue bouquet.”)
Final Verdict: 2 (out of 5) stars.
Just as in March 2012, we have a product that exists merely for the novelty of it — not that I believe that’s a bad thing, especially for the target audience Frito-Lay and Taco Bell are trying to attract. However, as awesome as it is to have a taco shell made of Cool Ranch Doritos, there’s something lost in their flavor when they’re competing with the other ingredients. In comparison, the original Doritos Locos Tacos retained its signature Nacho Cheese Doritos flavor midst the beef and cheese — the tasteless lettuce is for texture — whereas these new offerings have you wondering where the “cool” is. There isn’t nearly as much flavor dust in this new taco shell, although the taste is there when you tear off a piece and eat it by itself. In order to put the “cool” back into Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos, they probably should have amped up the flavor dust to retain the “cool” factor with everything else going on. However, what this new product tastes like is the regular run-of-the-mill Taco Bell taco, just inside a fancy, new, blue branded box.
If you’re a fan of Cool Ranch Doritos and Taco Bell, go ahead and buy into the novelty; you’ll enjoy it. For everyone else who loves to prepare fresh food: rest assured, knowing quite confidently that you can probably make a better taco at home — with or without a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos.
Erik Trinidad is a food and travel writer and author of Fancy Fast Food: Ironic Recipes with No Bun Intended, based off his popular food humor blog.