Taste Test: Takis vs. Their Tak-alikes
Let us review.
With that out of the way, some facts:
- Takis are a brand of rolled-up and fried corn chips designed to resemble little taquitos.
- Takis are dusted heavily—and I mean blitzed—with spices and powdered lime for an intensely salty, puckeringly tangy, generously spicy snack.
- If you get Taki residue on your fingers, everything you touch will be ruined.
- One serving of Takis is about 13 pieces, containing 150 calories, eight grams of fat, and 420 milligrams of sodium.
- A standard snack-size bag of Takis contains four servings.
- Takis are awesome.
Since our initial tasting of the snack earlier this year, we've kept an eye on Takis (and the viral success of those dancing kids), which is what led me to find a curious item in the snack section of my local supermarket:
More Taki flavors? No, you're looking at an entirely separate snack product: Dinamita, which is made by Doritos, a competitor brand to Barcel's line of taquito-shaped chips. Two Taki-level-intensely-flavored Dinamita flavors were rolled out in 2012, and with a brand new flavor on the way, the Tak-alikes must be seeing some commercial success.
I can't get Takis in my neighborhood, and where I have found Takis in New York (a short list), I haven't seen the Doritos alternative, so as far as I'm concerned this competition is a good thing. But what if I lived in a world where I had to choose between Takis and Dinamita? Who makes the better ultra-salty and -caloric chip?
I had to find out, and I was going to take down the whole Serious Eats office with me to do so.
I brought in three flavors of Takis for our tasting: the spicy chili- and lime-flavored Fuego, the habanero-spiced-but-actually-less-spicy Nitro, and a wildcard we hadn't tried before, Salsa Brava. (Guacamole and Fajita flavors were excluded because we couldn't find any. Takis are rare around here! They also weren't our favorite flavors.)
There are currently two flavors of Doritos Dinamita: a Doritos-flavored spicy cheese (Nacho Picoso) and a Fuego doppleganger Chile Limon. I also added another Tak-alike to the mix: Churritos.
Churritos are a noodle-like fried snack also made by Barcel, and they're marketed as a companion product to Takis. One of the bags even shares the same name, "Fuego," with a note that it has the "same spicy flavor as Takis." We put that claim to the test.
Tasters sampled all seven chips, ranking their favorites and leaving comments on flavor, texture, and oh god it's so spicy-ness. Though the flavors differ, the greatest difference between Takis and Dinamita is their texture: Takis boast a thicker chip with flaky layers, which makes for an especially satisfying crunch. The Dinamita chips are slightly thinner, more prone to shattering than crunching. But did the difference play out in the data?
Not really. Turns out we like 'em both.
There was less than a point of difference between all the Taki and Dinamita flavors, leaving no clear winner. The data did show that we're not big fans of Churritos, the Takis companion product. While they do taste similar, they lack the fiery hit of spice we've come to expect from our Takis, as well as the oily, flaky crunch.
Here's the rundown on the rest ranked in order of preference.
By a hair, our favorite Taki-like product is in fact made by Takis. The Fuego is our ur-Taki, brilliantly spicy, jolted with lime, and blessed with a layered crunchiness. If you're going to buy any flavor of Takis, buy this one.
Dinamita Nacho Picoso
A surprise favorite among tasters, it's essentially a Dorito-flavored Taki. There's yellow cheese powder, a touch of heat, and the unquestionable feeling that you're eating a plate of nachos in snack tube form. If you're afraid of Takis' tangy lime flavor, this is the chip for you.
Though the Nitro Takis are billed with a habanero flavor, we find them less hot than the Fuegos. What they do have is a cleaner, sharper heat and a subtle but distinct smokiness. "Can I have this with beer plz," one taster asked. I'd agree.
Dinamita Chile Limon
The Chile Limon Dinamita is a dead ringer for the Fuego Takis—they look almost identical. Tasters noted its blast of "eye-wateringly-tart" lime and "my mouth is burning spice," flavors that are a little less integrated than in the more balanced Fuego. If you have the option, go for the Fuego, but the Chile Limon will do you just fine.
Takis Salsa Brava
A middle-of-the-road Taki in terms of heat and flavor. There's some tomato sweetness, more like a salsa-topped chip than the chili-lime punch to the mouth of our favorite Takis. It's a tasty thing, "milder but just as good" in the words of one taster, but if you don't want to eat something hellishly spicy and sour, should you really be eating Takis at all?