Chow Bella

In Defense of Cool Ranch Doritos

Tom Carlson
For this author, the Cool Ranch Dorito is everything.

Ho Hos. Peeps. Jack in the Box onion rings. We all have it
 that low-end dish or snack item that tops our own personal food pyramid. What's yours? All week we'll ask some of our favorite writers to dig deep and cough up their favorites.

You’re always asked about your favorites when you're young. Favorite color, movie, after-school activity, food. It was about 1997, after I first moved to Phoenix, when I decided that my favorite food was Cool Ranch Doritos.

It wasn’t easy to make this decision, but I came up with a fail-proof test.

Have you ever been so nauseous you swear you’ll never have an appetite again? During this window of desperation, you can decipher your favorite food by thinking of all your beloved dishes, one by one, and seeing which one doesn’t make you feel even more ill. One sick night in fifth grade, I realized, despite my nausea, I could probably still take down a lunchbox-size bag of Cool Ranch Doritos.

I had my answer.

I just love them so much. Cool Ranch Doritos are delicious, and popular for a reason, I say. Zesty, salty, tangy – those beautiful little blue and red specks. Some even come extra-dusted on one lucky-for-you little crunchy triangle. You're almost sad when you've finished a bag, but then remember all the small pieces sitting at the bottom of the bag, waiting. This part is – and you know where I’m going with this – ultimate Flavor Town when the bag is tilted upward, and it all goes sliding home.

I tell myself that flavor angle is supported by Mark Schatzker, author of "The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor."

Not only are these little guys incredible to eat, they’re also fascinating.

Doritos debuted in 1966, and Cool Ranch (in my opinion, still the crown jewel of the now, like, thousand-flavor Doritos lineup) was introduced with the goofiest commercial possible in 1986 — the year I was born.

Cool Ranch chips have 34 colorful flavors according to the highly visual book "Ingredients: A Visual Exploration of 75 Additives & 25 Food Products" by Dwight Eschliman. The Onion chastises this fact with the post “Doritos Celebrates One Millionth Ingredient.” Excessive or no, the result is still perfection. Even Grant Achatz, a well-known chef, is “an admitted Cool Ranch aficionado” according to "The Legend of Doritos" – a 2012 Maxim article on the topic.

This snack is even mysterious.

Once, there were the incredible Doritos 3D in Zesty Ranch, which you can only find on eBay or something now since they were discontinued in the mid-aughts, and Frito-Lay, Inc. never really explained why. At some point over Cool Ranch's career, the flavor's name was updated to Cooler Ranch Doritos. There's even a pony named Dorito Cool Ranch in Maryland. Cooler than what? They must have got that question more than a few times, because the name was quietly changed back to Cool Ranch. I contacted Frito-Lay on both vital issues. No response as of press time.

Now we get things like Munchies Totally Ranch, and, of course, Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos Supreme. But call me old fashioned, nostalgic, or just goofy for writing about this in the first place — but I’ll take a regular bag of CRDs any day.