Doritos Locos Tacos: A Visit to the Taco Bell HQ Test Kitchens + Doritos Existentialism

Doritos Locos Taco Shells

Emma CourtlandDoritos Locos Taco Shells

Since our first story on Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Taco, Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Tacos Taste Like Broken Dreams, we've received an abundance of new information courtesy of the friendly people at Taco Bell Corporate. We were invited to the new Taco Bell HQ in Irvine to re-sample the Doritos Locos Tacos, both regular and supreme. In addition to being given a tour of Taco Bell's test kitchens, exact replicas of the in-store kitchens where men and women in business casual discuss seasoned beef and crunch factor, we were treated to a healthy serving of what we reporters call "the facts," of which one was absolutely inescapable: We had been wrong.

The gist of it is this: Doritos Locos Tacos (DLTs, in TB HQ slang) are not, as we'd claimed in our initial post, merely regular Taco Bell shells coated with Doritos nacho cheese powder, though they may taste that way. In a room with stadium seating and LCD screen monitors designed for launching new products to the press, DLT senior project manager of product development Steve Gomez confirmed, "The recipe [for the DLT] is almost identical [to the traditional Doritos chip], with a few adjustments to ensure the taco shell can hold the ingredients while at the same time delivering that distinctive Doritos experience that people love."

Along with a small army of exceptionally sweet PR people, Gomez explained it's just like the ad says: DLTs are "made from Nacho Cheese Doritos Chips." Or, at least, made from the stuff that makes those chips.

The Doritos Locos Taco shell is without a doubt, essentially, a Dorito. More or less.

But is that enough to call it a Dorito? There's no doubting the sensory disparities between the Doritos chip and the DLT shell go beyond the shape: The traditional Nacho Cheese Dorito is coated on both sides with nacho cheese powder; the Doritos Loco Taco shell has cheese on the outside only. And the texture is different: Doritos chips are light and their surface is scattered with air bubbles; the Doritos taco shell is noticeably thicker and more even.

We accept that Doritos themselves change flavor. To Blazin' Buffalo & Ranch and Jacked Enchilada Supreme, Smoky Chipotle BBQ and Nacho Picoso Rolled Flavored Tortilla Chips -- all of them unquestionably Doritos. So then what constitutes a Dorito, what gives it its Doritoness, is perhaps not in the flavor so much as in the bite, the texture and the preparation, the uneven surface and the delicate air bubbles -- the things missing from the Doritos Locos Taco.

Or maybe it's a question of existence over essence. The reality of the Dorito taco shell over the calculated essence that might otherwise define what it means to be a Dorito. Doritos Locos Tacos are essentially Doritos, yes, just as ice is essentially water and Katy Perry has essentially the same face as Zooey Deschanel.

We can agree that the Doritos Locos Taco shells are not just traditional Taco Bell shells, but it's still hard to say that they are more than just "essentially" Doritos.

Want to see more photos of Taco Bell Headquarters? Turn the page.

Taco Bell HQ, swank

Emma CourtlandTaco Bell HQ, swank

Sensory test room, just like in the movies

Emma CourtlandSensory test room, just like in the movies

DLT test kitchen IN ACTION

Emma CourtlandDLT test kitchen IN ACTION

Doritos Locos Tacos: A Visit to the Taco Bell HQ Test Kitchens + Doritos Existentialism

Emma Courtland