Trung Phan

Trung Phan



Since the early-1990s, PepsiCo has sold $1B+ of Doritos a year. Why is the chip so addictive? From the ingredients to cooking method to texture, its engineered to pull all the psychological levers to make you crave the snack. Here’s a breakdown 🧵

Doritos are a good way to understand junk food. As noted by a Colorado U study on food addiction, natural ingredients are often processed to be addictive: ◻️Grapes to wine ◻️Coca leaves to cocaine ◻️Poppy seeds to heroin It's a useful framework to think about "corn to Doritos".

A common junk food trait is the combination of fat and sugar. In nature, these compounds are rarely found combined. There are a myriad of ways to mix them in standard cooking but the snack industry turned the combo of sugar and fat into a science. Here are 6 ways Doritos do it:

#1 - Ideal fat content Speaking of fat and sugar, Doritos have nearly a perfectly balanced mix. The top 2 ingredients are corn (carb) and vegetable oils (fat). The calories in a Doritos chip is split almost exactly 50/50 between carb and fat (each bag has 3 ears of corn).

#2 - Cooking method Humans have developed a craving for compounds that come out of the cooking process. Doritos satisfies this craving by hitting you with multiple levels of cooking: ◻️the corn kernels are cooked ◻️corn mashed into paste ◻️corn chip toasted + deep fried

#3 - Seasoning A Doritos chip is dusted w/ a long list of flavour enhancers: ◻️MSG ◻️Sugar, Salt ◻️disodium inosinate / guanylate ◻️garlic/pepper/tomato/onion powder This mix is called “non-specific aroma”. No flavor is dominant enough to cause satiety (feeling full).

#4 - So much cheese Doritos are loaded w/ real cheese: romano, cheddar and parmesan (it uses milk from 10k cows a year). When digested, cheese releases a compound called casomorphim which attaches to the same brain receptors as heroin. This leads to a satisfying dopamine hit.

#5 - Contrasting texture A Doritos bite starts with a crunch but quickly dissolves in your mouth. This is a phenomenon known as “vanishing caloric density”. The feeing of food “vanishingly in your mouth signals to the brain that you “need” more.

#6 - The finale After destroying a bag of Doritos, you’re left with a layer of delicious goodness on your fingers. Let’s be real, people are def licking that flavour. And it's 5x more concentrated than on a chip. TLDR: A Doritos bag ends w/ a bang and leaves us wanting more.

If you enjoyed that, I write interesting threads 1-2x a week. Def follow @TrungTPhan to catch them in your feed. Here's one you might like:

That’s a lifetime of flavour right there

Two notes on Doritos: ◻️Typo in 2nd tweet (“poppy seed” was supposed to be “opium poppy”). ◻️Received this DM on Doritos and cheese

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