We decided to hold a taste-test of the new flavor in advance of its official launch.
First, a note on the flavor: It's "Flamas," a chili-lime Doritos flavor. This will be the third iteration of the Doritos Loco Taco, which launched in 2012 with the Nacho Cheese flavor and added Cool Ranch to the lineup earlier this year.
Now, Taco Bell (YUM) hasn't officially announced the new flavor yet, choosing to treat the reveal as a big mystery on social media. But in truth, it's the worst-kept secret in tacos. As Foodbeast points out, there's photographic evidence of the Flamas flavor at a test location. And Taco Bell CEO Greg Creed has repeatedly confirmed that Flamas would be the new flavor. So unless Taco Bell is orchestrating the greatest bait-and-switch in taco history, you can expect the new flavor to be announced as Flamas in the next week or so.
Still, company representatives wouldn't confirm the flavor, exhorting me to guess the flavor based on my taste test.
So I tried it out. It's Flamas, and it's delicious.
Taco Bell representatives came by with samples of all three Doritos Locos Tacos, and I was joined by three DailyFinance colleagues in taste-testing them. The verdict was unanimous: This is the best of the Doritos Locos Tacos.
Flamas brings something to the Doritos Taco line that's been missing: Spice. The bright-red shell has a satisfying, lingering heat to it, and while it's a bit too salty, there's a real flavor here that shines through the sodium.
The original Nacho Cheese flavor came in second in our taste-test. Cool Ranch, which is my favorite Doritos flavor, remains the most disappointing of the three, with the characteristic Cool Ranch flavoring overwhelmed by the excess salt.
But as impressed as we were, Flamas is a somewhat risky choice for the next flavor of what has become Taco Bell's signature dish. If this is the first you've heard of it, you're not alone: Flamas Doritos are largely sold only in Hispanic neighborhoods; we were unable to find them in stores near our office in downtown Manhattan. Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch account for 75 percent of Doritos sales.
Still, even though the new flavor is a relative unknown, we hope that won't cause customers to overlook it, as it's a strong addition the Taco Bell menu.
Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.