How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

The hunt for Red Tapatío Chips, concluded

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Empty bag, chips gone

So the hunt for Tapatío hot sauce flavored Doritos that I embarked on last week has come to a happy conclusion. Over the past few days, several gracious readers shared chip-sighting locations that ranged from a gas station in Los Feliz to the Superior supermarket in Lynwood.

And in the end, the day before I planned to hit the Lynwood store, I found them during a weekend trip to San Diego at a gas station. Just like that.

So how were they? The chips had a fair amount of heat, to start with, which is a good thing. The powdery coating was the right shade of Tapatío red-orange. And the taste did have that distinctive vinegary Tapatío tang (even though vinegar isn't a listed ingredient in the sauce).

There was also an oddly familiar taste that had nothing to do with Tapatío, and I realized why after reading a Frito-Lay press release today, which explains that the "distinct Tapatío taste is added to top-selling Doritos Nacho Cheese flavored tortilla chips to make Doritos Tapatío." Aha, that's the taste - Nacho Cheese. Not bad, but it distracts the palate a bit from the Tapatío-fest.

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A stream of consciousness ode to Tapatío sauce, revisited

Photo by Jeremy Brooks/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Before the weekend begins, I'm reposting this too-good-to-miss nugget from a post yesterday. In a piece about hunting for Tapatío hot sauce-flavored Doritos, I included a wonderful, if hard to follow, ode to Tapatío sauce that I came across in an “I Love Tapatío Hot Sauce” section on Experienceproject.com.

Its author, identified on the site as "marioxgutierrez," wrote it stream of consciousness style in hip-hop phonetics. It takes a little concentration to read, but it's oddly poetic and sweet. And this is not, I repeat not, the kind of person you want to get into a Tapatío-versus-Cholula argument with.

Hit it, Tapatío-loving guy:

Deff a socal thing even tho now that im in miami and i see it out here ive seen its caught on i literally grew up on tapatio specially me an my momz fav doritos or kc masterpiece lays chips or any chips really an tapatio cant go wrong an then on all my momz food we used tapatio on tacos de frijoles chinitos y tocino also spam cooked an diced an put on a tortilla wit sum ketchup an tapatio an my fav hot dogs wit ketchup mustard n tapatio ive tried other hot sauces like my dads fav since he from tamazula jalisco salsa tamazula an dont get me wrong das my number 2 but na an also amor, buffalo, valentina, an u can even throw in tabasco an water’d down hot sauces from down south an yea no comparison tapatio goes wit everything oh yea i forgot cup o noodles or jus top ramen wit sum lemon juice an tapatio shiiiiieeeet i even got it in my cars glove box so yea I LOVE TAPATIO.

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On the trail of the Tapatío Doritos

Photo by Jeremy Brooks/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Last week, I came across a Facebook update from a friend with a photo that made my heart skip a beat. It was a small photo of a bag of Doritos, on the front a familiar and revered image: The smiling man in the sombrero from the label of the Tapatío hot sauce bottle.

Her message:

OMFG!!! I have been waiting a long time for this.

Ditto, sister. L.A.'s own Tapatío hot sauce, the closely-guarded secret of a local Mexican American family business, is a regional obsession. Before it became available nationwide, I remember smuggling it in my carry-on bag to California expats on the east coast, even to a friend who had moved to Europe.

And wisely, after years of creating bizarre flavors that range from the very un-taco-like "Original Taco" and even faux pizza, Frito-Lay recently got wise, apparently, to the fact that many people like to douse the company's chips in Tapatío sauce. Sure, there are flavors like "Flamas," blazing-hot Doritos the deep red color of imaginary hellfire with a lemony tang, but it's no Tapatío sauce. The Tapatío-flavored Doritos - along with Tapatío-flavored Fritos - have only been available recently.

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