Tag Archives: Fritos

Papa John’s Fritos Chili Pizza

Papa John's Fritos Chili PizzaI wasn’t aware of the existence of Frito pie until I was an adult. I always considered it somewhat of a Midwestern delicacy, although Wikpedia tells me its influence reaches to the southern and southwestern states.

I always considered this to be somewhat of a simple-minded dish, until I once cooked up a dish of cream cheese, Cincinnati-style chili, and shredded cheese. Dip some Fritos in there and taste the delicious combination of four simple ingredients.

That said, much like many other menu items that now exist in the fast food world, one food does not necessarily translate well into another. Several other restaurants – I’m thinking specifically of Sonic and Taco Bell – have incorporated Fritos into their menus, mostly consisting of “here’s a general menu item and then we threw some Fritos on or in it”.

…Which is exactly what happened with Papa John’s Fritos Chili Pizza. Actually, that’s not entirely fair. Papa John’s at least tried to stay somewhat true to the spirit of Frito pie – the pizza consists of cheddar cheese, Roma tomatoes, beef and onions, all on a bed of chili sauce. Oh, right, and Fritos. Duh.

Upon bringing Papa John’s Fritos Chili Pizza into my home, it was immediately filled with the smell of warm Fritos. I wouldn’t want a scented candle of this fragrance, but it was actually quite pleasant.

Papa John's Fritos Chili Pizza Slice

The Fritos were obviously put on after the pizza came out of the oven, as they were not at all soggy and looked fresh out of the bag. There certainly were a lot of them, too – I’ve never seen any other pizza topping given this much coverage. Of course, you’re just chucking a few cents’ worth of corn chips on there, so why not?

A disadvantage to having the Fritos applied after cooking was that they didn’t have the opportunity to stick to the rest of the toppings, which resulted in a lot of chips flying off the slices as I took them out of the box and again as I bit into them.

Papa John's Fritos Chili Pizza Toppings

Because of the amount of Fritos and perhaps their strong flavor, a lot of the other toppings got overwhelmed by the chips. The beef seemed barely there, and I only remembered the onions were a topping because they added a different textural crunch than that of the Fritos, which obviously added a lot of crunch. Crunch that didn’t really belong with the rest of the pizza. It was too jarring of a contrast.

Of all the toppings, the one that unexpectedly struggled through all the Fritos was the Roma tomatoes. They added a fresh flavor and a slight crunch that helped out the struggling pizza.

Don’t think I’m forgetting about the chili sauce. It was actually the shining star of Papa John’s Fritos Chili Pizza. It was pretty much everything you’d want to have on a pizza that’s trying to represent Frito pie – it tasted a hell of a lot like Cincinnati chili, which is to say, thin, cheap, beanless, but yet somehow delicious.

After the Fritos, it was the first thing I tasted from the pizza, and I was surprised and pleased at the flavor. There wasn’t even an overabundance of it, but just the little amount that was there delivered the flavor.

Papa John’s Fritos Chili Pizza isn’t gross, it’s just dumb. Tossing a bunch of chips on top of a cooked pie does not a pizza make. In fact, I wound up taking the Fritos off the rest of my pizza and found it more enjoyable that way – the beef and the onions were able to come through and mix in with the chili sauce, which I really enjoyed.

The flavor and the texture of the Fritos amounted to nothing more than a distraction. They took me out of pizza mode. I just wish Papa John’s would make chili sauce an option on their build-your-own pizzas, because it really saved this pizza and I’d love mix it up with some other toppings.

Papa John’s Fritos Chili Pizza

  • Score:2.5 out of 5 Fritos flying everywhere
  • Price: $12.00
  • Size: Small
  • Purchased at: Papa John’s #1355
  • Nutritional Quirk: Fritos.

Fritos Tapatío-Flavored Corn Chips

I love Tapatío. It is my go-to hot sauce for just about everything. I put it on pizza, I put it in ramen, I adorn macaroni and cheese with it. I also just realized I have the diet of a poor college student. Just kidding, I realized that years ago.

Let’s not lose sight, here.Tapatío! Now in powdered chip form! When I saw these Fritos at my local convenience store I did the Happy Snack Dance. I was so overzealous that I failed to notice that there are also Tapatío-flavored Doritos and Ruffles, too. The cashier behind the counter kindly pointed this fact out to me, but I wasn’t about to go back and hunt for the other two, because that would make me look weird and would also piss off the person behind me. So you get Fritos, and that’s all you get. I don’t need all three anyway; just take whatever I say about the Tapatío powder and pretend it’s on a tortilla chip, then on a potato chip. Done! Easiest review ever.

Actually, I just read Snack Chat and my previous sentence is completely inaccurate. The Doritos have a Nacho Cheese base and the Ruffles “include a touch of lime juice”. I still feel I made the right choice, even if it was accidental, because the Fritos version appear to be purely Tapatío, so I’ll be able to judge more accurately if they have captured the true essence of the hot sauce. Plus, these are Frito Flavor Twists (although not labeled as such), and I’ve somehow managed to have never had this particular iteration of Fritos, so it will be a learning experience for all of us.


Fritos and Tapatío 'bout to get freaky!

If you’ve never had this hot sauce, I’ll let Snack Chat break it down: “For those that aren’t familiar, Tapatío hot sauce has been around since the early 1970s. It started as a part-time venture for founder Luis Saavedra, Sr. who made batches of hot sauce in his family home, selling the finished bottles to local Los Angeles markets. Despite its humble beginning, Tapatío hot sauce eventually caught on and is now a staple in homes and restaurants across the country.”

As Tapatío Fritos are part of the Sabritas line, everything’s in Spanish. There’s some English as well, like in the Nutritional Information section, but some things are only in Spanish, like on the back of the bag pictured above. According to Google Translate, “¡Ya llegó!” means “Has arrived!”. “Dile hola a” I can handle myself with my two years of basic Spanish; that means “Say hello to”. “Has arrived!” isn’t exactly the kind of statement I would tack an exclamation point onto, but hey, certain things get lost in translation.


Upon opening the bag, I was greeted with the smell of…enchiladas? Bizarre, but true. Like corn tortillas with a saucy, spicy smell. The twists definitely didn’t taste like enchiladas, though. Tapatío Fritos definitely bring the heat of the hot sauce; one of the things I like so much about it is that it’s spicy and has a good level of heat, but not so much heat that your taste buds burn out and you’re sweating and dying for a glass of milk. It’s the perfect level of heat for me. These chips had that same level of heat, with an afterburn that’s pleasant, not painful.

Another distinctive feature of Tapatío is the aftertaste. Perhaps it’s the combination of red peppers and garlic, or the always-vague “spices”, but it has a taste that differs from other hot sauces. Fritos got part of it; there’s a little garlic in there with the lingering heat. It seemed like there was a little something missing, though. Looking at the ingredients, “Tapatío seasoning” is listed, which captures all of the elements of Tapatío sauce except the red peppers, which is one of the key ingredients. This may be what keeps Tapatío Fritos from tasting 100% Tapatío.

All in all, I think Fritos Tapatío-Flavored Corn Chips succeeded in being tasty and came very close to capturing the essence of Tapatío. The heat level was just right and the touch of garlic was thoughtful. The only thing holding Fritos back from truly making a Tapatío chip was a certain flavor missing from the aftertaste, which may have been because they didn’t include red peppers in the equation. That said, I think Fritos did a good job in staying true to Tapatío’s flavor, instead of just creating another heat-based chip.

  • Score: 4 out of 5 ¡Ya llegós!
  • Price: 99 cents
  • Size: 2 7/8 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Circle K #2821
  • Nutritional Quirks: No red peppers in the chips, even though it’s one of the main ingredients in Tapatío.

Taco Bell Beefy Crunch Burrito

So is this going to be a thing now? Fritos? Are Fritos the next pomegranate? Sonic has had their Frito Chili Cheese Wrap on the menu for as long as I have been going there, but then they upped the ante with their Sonic Tex Mex Footlong Quarter Pound Coney. Now Taco Bell has hopped on the Frito bandwagon with their new Beefy Crunch Burrito. I’ll let Taco Bell explain:

“Layers of seasoned ground beef, rice, warm nacho cheese sauce, reduced fat sour cream and Flamin’ Hot Fritos wrapped in a warm, flour tortilla.”

Classic Taco Bell move. The first four ingredients in this description should sound familiar because they’re in every other Taco Bell menu item, ever. But hey – Fritos! Flamin’ Hot Fritos, no less. Frito-Lay has Flaminized many of their products. I am quite fond of Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Limon, but they stain your fingers for a whole day, announcing your snacking habits to the world. I also once powered through a whole bag of Flamin’ Hot Funyuns, but in my defense, I was drunk.

So now we’ve got snack food inside fast food. I’m reminded once again of Sonic and their Ched R Pepper SuperSONIC Cheeseburger, which stuck jalapeño poppers inside a burger. I like where this is going. Funyuns replacing real onions on a McDonald’s burger. Jack in the Box Ultimate Jack Link Beef Jerky Grilled Cheese Sandwich. KFC chicken breaded with crushed Doritos Blazin’ Buffalo and Ranch. Burger King’s new Ranch Corn Nuts Bacon Cheeseburger.

Oh yeah. This is going all the right places.

Flamin’ Hot Fritos may make the Crunchy Beef Burrito Taco Bell’s most caliente menu item, which is sad because they have a whole Volcano menu devoted to items that are supposed to make your brain blow out the back of your head with the heat but instead just make you wish you had a can of Spicy Hot V8 on hand. It’s no good when you want a beverage to make your mouth burn instead of cool it off.

With pretty much nowhere to go but up in my mind, let’s see what this bitch can deliver.

Okay, so here’s the rub: The Beefy Crunch Burrito has the word “crunch” in its name. But anyone with half a brain would know that Fritos don’t stand a chance when they’re smothered in nacho cheese sauce and reduced fat sour cream.  “Kelley,” you could scream to me in the comments section, “you can’t fault the Fritos for being soggy when you drive all the way home to eat! Eat inside the Taco Bell! You’re being unfair to the Beefy Crunch Burrito when you complain that the Fritos were soggy!”

Yes, the Fritos were soggy. No, I didn’t eat it inside the restaurant. I drove through the drive-thru and took my food home, to eat and photograph in the privacy of my own domicile. Millions of people do that, every day. That’s why we eat fast food. That’s why the drive-thru was invented. Well, that and for people who eat in their cars, but that’s something I just don’t do. Eyes on the road! Hands at ten and two! Didn’t you learn anything in driver’s ed?

I believe fast food companies should prepare for these kinds of situations, and design menu items appropriately. What I’m trying to say here is, don’t blame me, blame Taco Bell. Don’t put something that’s supposed to be crunchy in with a bunch of stuff that will turn it to mush in ten seconds. It’s just going to end poorly.

Rant aside, there was another problem with the Beefy Crunch Burrito. I’ll accept snack foods in my fast food – I just raved about the possibilities a few paragraphs ago – but I’m not going to give them a free pass when it doesn’t work out. And the Beefy Crunch Burrito didn’t. All the regular players got along fine: seasoned beef shook hands with nacho cheese, sour cream said hi to the rice, and warm flour tortilla invited everyone in for a group hug. Then Flamin’ Hot Fritos invited itself over and everyone got uncomfortable. The pronounced and very recognizable corn chip flavor just seemed out of place with everything else, jarring my taste buds and overwhelming all the other flavors. The best word to describe it would be “discordant”. Corn chips just didn’t belong. It felt like I was eating a corn chip burrito with some other stuff thrown in.

As for the Flamin’ Hot portion, I’ll admit, they did give off a little heat. I think it was diluted from the nacho cheese and sour cream, because it wasn’t quite as hot as the Flamin Hot chips themselves. I wished it had been super hot; then maybe it would have drowned out the corn chip taste a bit.

Beefy Crunch Burrito really let me down. It’s not often that I outright dislike a Taco Bell product, but here we are. Points are docked for soggy Fritos, but that’s a design flaw. The real problem is that overpowering corn chip taste that drowns everything else out and really doesn’t belong. Taco Bell isn’t really marketing it as a “blow your brains out spicy” item, but even so, there was very little heat. The Beefy Crunch Burrito is a mess; that said, I still encourage fast food companies to start stuffing snacks into their menu items. Bring on the crazy!

(Update: I decided to bust this down to a score of 1.5 from 2 since it really wasn’t that close to average.)

  • Score: 1.5 out of 5 lingering hugs by Flamin’ Hot Fritos
  • Price: $0.99
  • Size: 1 burrito
  • Purchased at: Taco Bell
  • Nutritional Quirks: Let’s put it this way: seasoned ground beef, nacho cheese sauce, rice, sour cream, flour tortilla, Flamin’ Hot Fritos.  One of these is not like the other!