Japan's cut throat snack market meets two new Dorito's challengers

There's something captivating about the underdog. When the underdog fails, we lament their shortcomings. But when they succeed, we root with a vigor as though we were the ones responsible all along. In the Japanese chip market, the underdog is Dorito's. Despite its superstar status in pantries across the USA, Dorito's barely peaks its head out from the convenience store aisle in Japan. Elbowing next to domestic staples like Calbee's Super Big Light Salt and Consomme Punch is no easy feat. An eye-catching marketing strategy is the only way to make a dent in this scene. Taking notes from its competitors, Frito Lay, Dorito's parent company, is introducing limited-time-only flavors for their triangular chip. This February, the company unveiled Dorito's Beef Wasabi and Dorito's Shrimp Mayonnaise. As a longtime supporter of underdogs everywhere, I strolled down to the local Family Mart and purchased the pair. The following is a recollection of my experience.

Taste diary: Dorito's Beef Wasabi chip by Frito Lay
Wednesday February 18th, 2015 5:37PM
I haven't eaten in a few hours. I am hungry and your exterior packaging is tempting my taste buds. A gleaming plastic picture of steak. I love steak. The wasabi nestled on top only furthers my interest. You will make a good snack.


Enough looking, I tear your top open and stuff my hand inside. Every contour of you is peppered in sticky, salty flavor particles. My fingers taste your texture. Now for the real thing, as I bring you to my lips. Into my mouth you go.

Crunch. My molars reduce you to smaller and smaller bits of corniness. Within a few seconds you are no longer a chip, you are a thick paste. While my taste buds only pick up salty and savory, perhaps you will present a different medley of sensations to my olfactory system.

That's where you go wrong. What is this taste? It's bland! Boring! Nothing about you is memorable or worthwhile. You may as well brush off your salty make-up and go back to being a regular tortilla chip. Your beef/wasabiness is a fraud, a gimmick with good packaging.

I'm left feeling lonely, unsatisfied.

Conclusions on Beef Wasabi
As documented in my diary, Beef Wasabi is a failure of a chip. The big problem here is the initial decision to produce a "beef" flavor. When you think about it, a tortilla chip is already savory. Beef is savory. So does adding two savories together create some sort of "ultra savory?" The answer is a resounding no. One savory plus another savory equals a very dull savory. The wasabi idea is at least passing, but even that doesn't work too well. So long Beef Wasabi. Your limited-time-only status is deserved.

Now, onto Shrimp Mayonnaise

Taste diary: Dorito's Shrimp Mayonnaise chip by Frito Lay
Wednesday February 18th, 2015 5:42PM
After your beefy partner failed to deliver, I'm all bunched up in a junk food frenzy. I hope you can satisfy my particular desires. Can you give me something with a little pzazz? Fingers crossed.

I don't bother examining your packaging. Just the idea of mayonnaise is enough to excite me. Your insides are splayed open before I can even get you out of the grocery bag.

I have four, maybe five of you, pinched between my thumb and forefinger. A split second later and you've disappeared past my lips into the dark abyss beyond. Eyes closed, the chomping begins. Thank God, this time things are looking better.

Shrimp Mayonnaise! You are a joy. You satiate my junk food desire. One last chip remains. I'm about to swallow you! I'm sad to see you go, but I'm sure we'll meet again.

Conclusions on Shrimp Mayonnaise

Indeed, Shrimp Mayonnaise is a much better snack than its Beef Wasabi sibling. In this case, it's the mayonnaise flavoring that really takes it home. I hear the Dutch apply mayonnaise liberally to their potatoes, and likewise, the Japanese douse the white substance on just about everything. Take any savory based food, put mayonnaise on it, and it's immediately enriched with a sweet'n'sour, cholesterol-packed punch. The shrimp flavoring is the subtler of the two, and for those less schooled in the intricacies of seafood-flavored chips, the taste would otherwise go unnoticed if not for the name.

Essentially, Shrimp Mayonnaise is Frito Lay Japan's response to the Cool Ranch so popular on the other side of the pacific. And like it's super cool relative, the chips go best in one sitting of unashamed gluttony.

Wasabi Beef: You're not cutting it.
Shrimp Mayonnaise: I really like you.

The future of Dorito's in Japan
Increasing competition in the marketplace means more options for the consumer. In a few weeks time, a new batch of limited-time-only products will debut, and I'll be writing more entries in my food diary, mental notes on the joys of artificial flavoring and high fat content. For that, we owe Frito Lay a great deal of gratitude for all their hours of market research and product testing. To any Frito Lay representatives reading, I'll gladly volunteer my tongue for your focus group. While I've got your attention, here are some future flavors to consider.

  1. 1)Mayonnaise & Butter
  2. 2)Hot Dog & Egg Salad
  3. 3)Crisco Surprise
  4. 4)Action movie product tie-in with extra special sauce

Until then, I'll keep supporting you and your quirky flavor adventures as the underdog. Good luck!