Doritos Cooler Ranch vs. Nacho Cheese

There’s an adage in business about the innovator’s dilemma, where an incumbent in a vertical has trouble to establish new footing in innovation.

In the chip industry, never has this been more true than Doritos two flagship chips: Cooler Ranch and Nacho Cheese.

I’d argue, with evidence of countless empty bags of both flavors in my annual trash disposal, that these two flavors are about as close to perfect as a seasoned tortilla chip can get. If you put out either one of these bags at a summer BBQ, I doubt there will be a more broadly popular chip on your guest’s plates next to hot dogs, baked beans, and watermelon.

But at the end of the day, if I’m standing in the middle of the chip aisle in an inflationary economy and I only have enough money to buy one bag of chips… do I choose Cooler Ranch or Nacho Cheese? And why has Doritos has struggled so much to add an additional chip flavor to the trophy case of GOAT chips? Nothing they’ve released even comes close to being as good as these two flavors, and more often than not end up worse than other competitive brands.

But we’re not here to question that lack of innovation, instead I want to focus on comparing Nacho Cheese to Cooler Ranch.

First, some basics.

Nobody ever got fired for buying a bag of Nacho Cheese or Cool Ranch.

Doritos Cooler Ranch has the bite I often hunt for when I’m not quite in the mood for something jalapeno focused, but still want more flavor than a traditional cheese powder covered chip. There’s nothing quite like pulling a Cooler Ranch chip out of the bag to observe it covered in that glitter-like seasoning. Mmmm.

In comparison, Doritos Nacho Cheese has somehow perfected the art of a cheese powder that doesn’t make an equivalent mess to other brands that rhyme with “teechos” while not sacrificing on the flavor necessary to justify eating an entire bag in one sitting.

Hard to award one chip flavor a trophy based on the above.

Now how about which flavor is easiest to eat an entire bag in one sitting? Doritos has, during the recent downsizing, remained relatively consistent in the volume of their chips. I’ve watched several other mainstream brands selfishly reacting by lowering the total count of chips per bag (CPB), but honestly both Nacho Cheese and Cooler Ranch have been surprisingly full.

That being said, one of my major complaints about Doritos volume by weight is that it makes for a super awkward amount remaining at the end of a chip binge. It’s hard to eat an entire bag without feeling a little too full, but the amount left over after a serious chomp sesh rarely justifies a second follow-up session a day later.

There’s like an awkward 1/5th of the bag left after I consume my daily allotment of chips, which drives other members of my house crazy when they go to grab a handful and find only half-chips and crumbs at the bottom of the near-empty bag.

Doritos, let’s fight the power here and instead perhaps consider even INCREASING the number of chips in each bag, you’d win the hearts and minds of so many consumers in an otherwise worrisome time.

This brings me to basically argue that both flavors serve their own purpose and easily survive on their own in a world where chip selection continues to broaden.

Nobody ever got fired for buying a bag of Nacho Cheese or Cool Ranch.

So is there anything here that can be used to give a bump to one flavor or the other?


In Iceland, Cool Ranch is actually called “Cool American,” and that’s just enough for me to give my vote to the blue bag here.

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