Whenever I’m sitting covered in orange dust up to my wrists, empty bags strewn about me and a lingering sensation that something just happened, I wonder what it is that makes the Nacho Cheese flavor of Doritos so alluring to many people. It’s science, of course, and it’s also why the partnership with Taco Bell for Doritos Locos Tacos has seen success, sales-wise: Those powdered cheese shells and fatty fillings are designed to leave you wanting more.
The New York Times is very good at delving into life’s important questions, and this one is no different. Despite the fact that the inventor of Doritos saw a many-flavored future for his chip, Nacho Cheese has reigned since 1964 as perhaps the most irresistible. Hence, it was the perfect starting flavor for the Doritos Locos Tacos, which have sold by the hundreds of millions since 2012.
It all boils down to psychobiology, points out the NYT‘s Michael Moss in an accompanying video graphic, which works hard to make the popular taco combo sell as many as it has.
There’s dynamic contrast — the bite down into the crispy shell to fat-laced filling, a pleasing experience that only gets better due to the fact that Tacos Locos Doritos get half their calories from fat. That equals mouthfeel.
Then there are acids, lactic and citric, which work to get your saliva flowing freely and trigger that thing in your brain that wants you to eat more. It’s having fun so it’s like, “Go for it, dude. Eat as much as you want.”
And as anyone knows, once the smell of Doritos has permeated a room, it’s there to stay for a good amount of time. The long hang-time of the flavoring system makes your brain crave the taste all over again.
But the real kicker? The food is engineered to be forgettable — none of the flavors of Doritos trigger a phenomenon called “sponsor specific satiety.” This means your brain decides that because it can’t really remember what just happened, you’ll want more. And you’ll never, ever be satisfied.
That Nacho Dorito Taste [New York Times]