When I was a kid I was a card-carrying member of the Pepsi Generation. Not because I preferred Pepsi to Coca-Cola, but because I wanted to be a part of a world where children could be joyfully gang-tackled by puppies in a field where spring never ends and the exuberance of youth is perpetual. Coke was for old dudes whittling outside Fina stations and their spinster wives, children who still wore knickers and Santa Claus (which I forgave because of the “Planet of the Apes” fortress he brought me that one time). Pepsi had me convinced despite selling an inferior product, as I learned in the wake of the New Coke-Coke Classic debacle.
Pepsi was Apple before Apple.
Marketing virtuosity helped PepsiCo Inc. grow exponentially. Upon its initial ascent, the corporation bought up all kinds of other properties, including Taco Bell in 1978. The first thing that happened after Glen Bell relinquished the gringo taqueria bearing his name was a drastic drop in taco prices, from 99 cents to 59 cents. What a coup! Then I bought one of these cheaper tacos and it was clear the Pepsi Generation wasn’t about the exuberance of youth or perpetual puppy pile-ons, it was about ruining things I loved by using cheaper ingredients. Taco Bell, which was my favorite place to eat since the age of 5, was dead.
In 1997, Pepsi Co. spun off its fast-food holdings into Yum! Brands, which also include Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, and once owned Long John Silvers and A&W Root Beer concepts. That’s why you only find Pepsi at those concepts. And the reason you have Doritos-flavored tacos at The Bell is because Doritos is also owned by PepsiCo.
Rewinding to my childhood, when I wasn’t begging my parents to take me to Taco Bell it was only because I had a mouthful of Doritos — Nacho Cheese or, of course, Taco-flavored. Had the Doritos Locos Tacos been born in 1975, I would’ve grown up thinking Christmas happened every day Taco Bell was open. Four decades later, I can’t stand Taco Bell’s partially beef tacos and find the Dorito-flavored version only slightly more tolerable.
Ladies and gentlemen, Doritos has entered shark-infested waters wearing a leather jacket and a pair of skis. I always appreciate the company’s attitude when it paid Jay Leno millions of dollars to remind us to “Eat more Doritos,” because “we’ll make more.” That was a simple, confident message. Now, Doritos seems more than a little desperate. Makes me wonder if they haven’t toyed with adding nicotine to the recipe.
Anyway, if Doritos wings ever make it to town, I will do my due diligence and have a basket with local wingman Ed Lynn. And if it’s good, I’ll say so. What about you? Are you interested in Doritos-flavored foods other than tortilla chips?