Adventures in Branding: Doritos Late Night

"Mucho gusto, Señor," she breathed breathily, pursing her beestung lips into a smile. "Perhaps you will care to join me for... Tacos at Midnight?"

I swear that this isn't photoshopped.

I swear that this isn't photoshopped.

I always hate to let advertisers win.  I love advertising, in a perverse way, but whenever I realize that an ad or a piece of product design has convinced me to buy a product, I die a little inside.  I am a unique snowflake with free will, dreams, ambitions, my own little spark of divine fire, etcetera, but bombard me with pretty lights and colors and suddenly I can be programmed to exchange my money for your goods, another cog in the capitalist machine.

But as much as I hate it, sometimes I will come across a piece of branding that sends me blindly fumbling for my wallet.  This happened to me today.  Readers, I give you:  Doritos Late Night.

Has our society really progressed to the point where we require “adult-oriented” corn chips? The mind boggles… and yet it’s hard to find another interpretation.  The name evokes nothing so much as “Cinemax After Dark,” and the packaging reminds me of the condoms they sell in truckstop bathroom vending machines… you know, the kind with names like “Glo-Worm” and “Silver Bullet” and a teeny tiny disclaimer that reads “FOR NOVELTY PURPOSES ONLY – NOT A CONTRACEPTIVE DEVICE.”  So yeah, of course I bought them.  As I walked out of the store, I was already thrilling over the improbable list of ingredients.  First and foremost, “Whole Corn.” What a revolting idea that is. “Whole grain bread” sounds pleasant and healthy, but “Whole corn Doritos” sounds dark and baleful.  And 100% of the corn was apparently not enough, because the good people at Frito-Lay have seen fit to supplement their corniness with Corn Oil and something called “Corn Maltodextrin.”  Also, there’s swiss cheese in this, which makes me wonder if they had ever seen or eaten a taco.

And what do they taste like? Alas, the flavor is disappointingly similar to that of a Dorito.  But is it my imagination, or are the chips thinner and crunchier?  There’s also a peculiar aftertaste, musty and sour-cool, which reminds me of guacamole, or possibly of Corn Maltodextrin.  Still, on the whole, the flavor is a grave disappointment. If in a fit of madness you find that you have up and bought a pack, you can throw it away, or keep the bag around as an objet d’art, but by no means should you open it. These chips are like the hangover after a night of heavy drinking:  unpleasant both on a visceral level and as a reminder of your own foolishness.

My particular foolishness was this.  I bought these things marveling at the stupidity of corporate America.  How could they think that a product this unnecessary and bizarre would sell?  What moron in his/her right mind would buy corn chips marketed on the promise of tawdry sex?  And then it hit me: I bought them.  Ironically, sure, but corporate America still has my buck-thirtyfive, and they’re not about to return it.  (Oh yeah, did I mention that they’re 35% more expensive than the standard variety?  It’s not just an “adult” corn chip, it’s a “luxury” corn chip.)  The only conceivable target audience for Doritos Late Night is the coveted ironic demographic, and I played right into their hands.  Dammit.

So anyway, to reclaim my essential humanity, I decided to do a little creative writing project… because after all, nothing says “individual” like a Harlequin Romance parody.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you:  Doritos Late Night Theater:  The Heaving of Miss Jean Vasquez.  Enjoy.

Hola Señorita,” he said.  They were the only two words he remembered from high school Spanish, the only two he had ever thought worth remembering. As he gazed at the hot Latin goddess who stood before him, he prayed that it would be enough.  “They do speak Spanish in Mexico, right?” he thought to himself, tracing the arch of her collerbone with his eyes.

She took a long, appraising look back at him, lifting a mocha-colored arm to brush back a lock of her long chestnut hair, which had blithely draped itself across the top of her cavernous decolletage.  She had not come to the Bodega that night planning to fall in love.  Furthermore, she was not Mexican, and spoke little Spanish.  And yet… there was something about his rugged, unshaven good looks, something about the twinkle in his slate grey eyes, something about the way his linen shirt hung open, displaying the chiseled abs that lay clustered below his ribcage, each glistening like a sardine in oil.

Mucho gusto, Señor,” she breathed breathily, pursing her beestung lips into a smile.  “Perhaps you will care to join me for… Tacos at Midnight?

And after that, they had no need for words. After, it was night of torrid glances, rumpled sheets, and the mewling of stolen passion, and they gladly exchanged speech for less coherent vocalizations…

… save only for one phrase, much later, not spoken but roughly torn from her torrid lips by the manly force of his brusque imposition…
Ay Dios Mio! Whole Corn!