Friday, August 2, 2019

Nostalgia Bomb! - Hostess Taquitos


What were they?

Doritos were first introduced into US markets in 1967 and hit small Canadian markets in the 1970s, but it wasn't really until 1987 that Doritos hit their stride in the Great White North, due to a partnership between Hostess and Frito-Lay. Before this - and into the 90s - Hostess had their own flavoured nacho chip brand, known as Hostess Taquitos.


When were they available?

It's hard to pinpoint exactly when they first launched, but I believe it was in 1985. It's also hard to say when they were finally phased out. Hostess Potato Chips themselves were slowly removed from the market in 1996, after Frito-Lay bought the company and decided to bring Lay's Potato Chips in as their main brand (more on that here). It's safe to assume they existed into the early 90s, but I'm not 100% they lasted until 1996, either.

What about today?

Unfortunately, Hostess Taquitos went the way of the Do-do many years ago. Frito-Lay had a hit in the US with Doritos and decided to focus on that brand across the border. That said, one of the Hostess Taquitos flavours still lives on to this day!

Why do I remember them?

Well, pretty much because they were delicious! Although they were way greasier and messier than Doritos, they packed way more flavour and crunch.

The way I remember it is that Doritos really started making gains when they introduced Cool Ranch into the Canadian market. Usually when kids bought nacho chips around here they'd get Taquitos unless they didn't want a cheese flavour. Then they'd buy Cool Ranch. I think they'd probably exist to this day if Frito-Lay hadn't made the decision to go with their American brands over the Hostess counterparts.

It's hard to impress how popular Taquitos were at the time, but Hostess really pushed them as one of their big brands. They even had their own mascot. Their potato chip brand had The Munchies, but Hostess Taquitos had El Taquito, a nacho chip shilling monkey!


Now, here's one thing that I have found weird over the years. I remember there being three kinds of Hostess Taquitos early on, but then eventually there were only two. There was Nacho Cheese, Zesty Cheese, and Crisp n' Cheesy. They were all distinct cheese flavours. I wasn't much of a cheese guy, so I always went for Nacho Cheese, where Zesty had a very strong flavour. I always considered Crisp n' Cheesy to just be like a Hostess Cheese Stick flavour, or as we called them, "Cheesies".

Eventually Crisp n' Cheesy was dropped and there was only Nacho Cheese and Zesty Cheese. If you were to try and look up Hostess Taquitos, however, you'll see that most posts online refer to them having only ever having two flavours: Zesty Cheese and Taco. I don't recall every having Taco flavoured Taquitos. The first flavour of Doritos was Taco, so I don't know if this is just some people mixing things up or if it was a difference in markets here in Canada, but I only saw cheese flavoured nacho chips.

I have recently found a commerical, however - thanks to RetroJunk.com - from 1985 that validates my memories and shows the three cheese flavours! Watch it in all its 80s glory! It's amazing.


I mentioned that one of the flavours still exists, right? Well, when Frito-Lay decided to push Doritos and get rid of Taquitos they made the smart decision of keeping the Zesty Cheese flavour, which I think was the best seller. So, if you've had Zesty Cheese Doritos, you've technically tasted these short-lived Canadian nacho chips! Doritos have always been a less messy, less greasy option, so they don't taste exactly the same, but it's as close as you can get these days.

Hostess Taquitos were something bold and new in the world of potato chips and salty snacks in the mid-80s. The were absolutely packed with flavour that would turn your parents off instantly, which made them all the more alluring to us kids, and that's why they're a blast from my past!

Now go get some Zesty Doritos!
R