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The Secret Ingredient In Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos

These Doritos are a fan favorite, and there's a very specific reason for that.

I love to read ingredient labels, especially on snacks. The label connects the dots between synthetic ingredients and the familiar flavors they create, but which consumers can't quite place. It's like watching a movie, seeing an actor, and going, "Oh yeah, that guy. What's that guy's name again?" (Hint: It's always Fred Melamed.) However, sometimes a particular ingredient is more like a movie spoiler, in that once you know it's in your favorite snack, it's impossible not to taste it because you know exactly what's coming. Case in point: Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos.

These are a top Doritos flavor. I'd probably rank them third or fourth, right up there with Tapatío, Salsa Verde, and classic Nacho Cheese. What stands out (and is sometimes divisive) about Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos is that, true to their name, these chips are noticeably sweet. Really sweet, in fact. Like, you're always tasting the sweetness. But they do have a subtle heat to them, as well as a deep savory flavor, all of which amounts to a uniquely mouth-smacking quality. In short, they're addictive as hell, and it's all due to one ingredient on the label.

What makes Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos taste so good? 

The secret's out: Soy sauce is what makes these Doritos great.

Yep, these Doritos list soy sauce in the ingredients label, and once you know that's what you're tasting, you won't be able to think of anything else. Soy sauce is the magic juice, man, the reason so many foods end up tasting awesome. In this case, it bridges the spicy and sweet notes gracefully, resulting in an umami flavor that is stronger in these chips than any other Dorito, which is why they're such a fan favorite.


That soy sauce also helps deepen the sweetness of the Doritos more; otherwise, they might just end up tasting like sugar. This is a complex tortilla chip, and one that benefits from great flavor alchemy. Good job, Frito-Lay scientists.

Not for nothing, soy sauce is also a common ingredient in powdered French onion dip, too. If you want to make your own Doritos at home, that powder would taste awesome dusted on some corn chips. In fact, soy sauce should be added to many more snacks to make them sing savory tunes.

These chips also contain MSG and hydrolyzed soy protein, two powerful flavoring agents. So, there's really a full-court press of flavor enhancers here. Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos offer glaring proof of a universal truth: Good chip flavors are just good science.