Doritos thinks we want nacho cheese-flavored booze

Dec 12, 2023, 11:55 AM

Doritos turned its nacho cheese chips into a spirit.  (PepsiCo Design and Innovation)...

Doritos turned its nacho cheese chips into a spirit. (PepsiCo Design and Innovation)

(PepsiCo Design and Innovation)

(CNN) — Doritos is betting on a new way to get people addicted to their tortilla chips: booze.

The PepsiCo-owned brand is releasing a new spirit based off of Doritos’ nacho cheese flavor that “tastes just like the real thing,” according to a press release. The chip maker partnered with Empirical, a Danish company known for making custom spirits with creative flavors.

Available only online, the limited-edition flavor goes on sale Wednesday in New York and California and costs $65 for a 750ml bottle.

This isn’t the first zany food-adjacent product from a big brand. Recently, Kahlúa and Absolut Vodka made a fragrance that smells like an espresso martini. And Dunkin’ turned its iced coffees and teas into canned cocktails. Also, Arby’s turned its curly and crinkle fries into a vodka, as well as created a smoked bourbon to be paired with its roast beef.

The goal of these products is to pique customers’ curiosity, spark a conversation and increase brand recognition. In other words: It’s a marketing ploy disguised as a product for sale. Don’t expect this to boost Pepsi’s bottom line.

Doritos and booze: A first of it kind

For Doritos and Empirical, the companies are describing the collaboration as a “first-of-a-kind innovation for both brands.” The spirit was made in Empirical’s lab through a production process that used Doritos chips to retain their “essence through vacuum distillation,” which the spirit maker says preserves more of the Doritos flavor compared to a traditional method.

The spirit’s flavor “opens with umami and tangy aromas of nacho cheese, moving to the deeper, corn-forward flavors of the chip to finish on a soft salty note,” the company said.

Since it’s a flavored spirit and not a specific category of liquor, Doritos recommends mixing it with a tequila or mezcal to make a bloody mary or a margarita. The booze can also be sipped neat or over ice.

“While the flavor may seem wacky, the collaboration has novelty value. And it is likely a lot of people will be interested enough to try it out,” said Neil Saunders, retail analyst and managing director at GlobalData Retail. He added that Empirical and Doritos are both known for “being playful and fun.”

“Consumers are in the mood to test new things. And are looking for products that are interesting and a bit different from the run of the mill,” he told CNN.

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Doritos thinks we want nacho cheese-flavored booze