Just like fish tacos, except disgusting.
Doritos’ classic nacho cheese flavor makes perfect sense. The whole point of that chip—to the best of my knowledge—was to simulate the flavor of extra-salty Tex-Mex-style nachos in a dry, ready-to-eat chip that could be preserved for months and sold en masse at convenience stores—a task at which they loosely succeeded.
Cool Ranch made slightly less sense, but still worked. Ranch is like a creamy version of ketchup: put it on 90% of classic, American-ish foods—everything from burgers to deep dish pizza to cucumbers—and you’ll suddenly be able to eat double the portion. That a powdered form of it tasted good on a super crispy corn chip probably felt like a no-brainer.
But that’s about where it ends. Frito Lay’s other attempts at jamming a tasty flavor into a chip-powder usually turn out to be the kind of food that only a drunk high school JV football player can ingest right before he barfs. I tried the Late Night All-Nighter Cheeseburger Tortilla Chip once and found it boldly disgusting.
But like most things in Japan (such as porn), Frito Lay’s Japanese division seems to have a predilection for unusual, gross, fish-related products. At least that’s how it seems when you consider this one: Doritos Clam Chowder Flavor (¥180).
At first glance chips flavored like clam chowder—clam anything—sound horrifying, like the kind of thing even people who love the McRib would classify as freak-food. But on second thought, let’s break this down:
Clam chowder is delicious—I think most folks can agree with that. And in my experience, it’s only made more delicious by the addition of saltines—a crispy, salty, chip-like add-on. If you think of the Clam Chowder Dorito not as a Mexican/New England food mash-up but rather as a version of regular clam chowder where the soup is the add-on, not the saltine, then it starts to sound intriguing. The reporter at CNN GO who brought this delicacy to my attention assures that the chip was well thought-out:
Upon tasting, the chips themselves are indeed more refined than normal. Instead of the low-rent cheese powder, the flavor is distributed subtly and smoothly across the triangle.
But does it taste like clam chowder? Yes, you better believe it. According to the ingredients, we can thank a little something called “clam essence powder.’
We’ll see how they last in Japan’s ever-changing, ever-weirdifying junkfood market. If they’re good enough to last for a year or two over there, maybe they’ll make the jump, or swim, to the States. Then we’ll be able to try their disgusting goodness for ourselves.