The untold truth of Cool Ranch Doritos

With a plethora of ever-evolving flavors, Doritos have spurred many rankings and debates over the years, but the now-iconic Cool Ranch variety has been firmly established as Doritos royalty.

Quick history lesson: Though Doritos were sold nationwide by 1966, the Nacho Cheese version didn't emerge until 1972 — but sales really picked up upon the intro of Cool Ranch in 1986, when the new flavor "blew the collective minds of junk food addicts around the world" (via Maxim).

More recently, one reviewer boldly proclaimed that they're even better than the original Nacho Cheese, thanks to their "spicy, cooling, mouth-watering, and powdery" flavor and superior packaging (via The Kitchn). In a head-to-head showdown, The Takeout noted that "any consumer of American snacks stands firmly either on the side of Nacho Cheese or Cool Ranch," but Cool Ranch gains extra points for its "specks of green and red," which somehow served "to amplify its subtle sweetness and tang." (Spoiler alert: When put to the test among tasters, Cool Ranch eked out the win by a single vote.)

Others claim the superiority of Nacho Cheese, asserting that Cool Ranch "are phenomenal — but ... a novelty you're fine moving on from" (via Esquire). No doubt that the debate will rage on among snack-food aficionados — and we wouldn't want it any other way.

The evolution of Cool Ranch Doritos

Maxim reports that Doritos are created through a rigorous process that starts with Nebraska corn ("specifically grown for Frito-Lay," which is a division of PepsiCo) and ends with a round in the "seasoning drum, a stainless-steel barrel about the size of a Volkswagen," where "the chips are sprayed with a mist of corn oil, then with a cloud of seasoning."

Cool Ranch's ingredients list may contain funky elements like MSG, sodium acetate, a trio of artificial colors, and "what's that?" additions like disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate. But the chips also get some of their trademark flavor from tomato, onion, and garlic powders, plus cheddar cheese and buttermilk. No one is 100 percent sure if they actually emulate ranch dressing or if it's just a marketing term, but in European countries, where ranch isn't a "thing," they're renamed as "Cool American" or "Cool Original" (via Reader's Digest).

Confusion aside, perhaps Cool Ranch's splashiest moment came this year when a Frito-Lay ad campaign, featuring Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Sam Elliott highlighted the much-loved variety for the first time ever during the Super Bowl to announce the addition of "even more cool seasoning." The company even promoted an app for emulating the stars' dance moves.

Was the flavor revamp in response to an actual petition on change.org (signed by a whopping 96 people) to "make Cool Ranch Doritos cool again"? The world may never know.