We're heading back to the Western Hemisphere for this week's post, to Mexico. I managed to procure three types of tortilla chips--guacamole, crunchy fajita, and nitro flavors. Each came in a 280 gram (9.9 ounce) bag, and cost about $3 each.
These chips were all from the Takis line, made by Barcel. Barcel has been around since 1978, and is an American exporting brand of the overall Grupo Bimbo company. Bimbo is monstrously huge. It had 129,000 employees, 165 manufacturing plants, recent annual revenues of 14.1 billion dollars, and exports to 32 countries, including most of the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa. This company was started back in 1945, by Lorenzo Servitje, Jaime Sendra, Jaime Jorbal, Alfonso Velasco, and Jose Mata. The exact derivation of the name is a bit mysterious. The most prevalent explanation is that it is a combination of the words "bingo" and "Bambi" (the Disney movie was very popular at the time). The website notes that by a happy coincidence bimbo is also a common Italian term for children, is similar to the Hungarian word for "bud," and that's its Chinese phoneme is close to the Chinese world for "bread." (Left unsaid was that here in the U.S. "bimbo" has negative connotations, being a slang term for a woman of, shall we say, low moral character.) Bimbo's corporate mascot is a polar bear wearing an apron and a chef's hat, carrying a loaf of bread. I don't find this choice weird--lots of companies and sports teams, etc., use a bear as a logo, but I do find their stated reasons for this odd. It's said that the polar bear was chosen for its "tenderness" and "neatness," among other things. When I see footage of a real life polar bear bloodily tearing up a seal these descriptive words aren't what springs to mind. Moving on, Grupo Bimbo is billed as the world's largest bakery company. Other flavors of Takis include Fuego, Salsa Brava, Original, Cobra, and Explosion.
Now on to my reactions to each.
1) Takis guacamole flavor. These are thin rod shapes, about 7 cm (about 2.75 inches) long by .5 cm (about .25 inch) wide. They were yellow in color, covered in green powder. They tasted like corn, unsurprisingly, with a slight guacamole flavor. Pretty good. These had a "mild" one bar out of four, spiciness rating. They were a solid chip-like snack.
2) Takis crunchy fajita flavor. Same size and shape as guacamole kind. Yellow color, this time with a reddish-orange powder covering. They looked like rolled up nacho cheese Doritos. Had a heavy corn taste. Some bite, but not as much as I expected, given their two bar "hot" rating. Alright, but a little tame. Not as good as the guacamole ones.
3) Takis nitro flavor. Again, same size and shape as the others. Their spiciness rating was 3 out of four bars, or "very hot." These were a deep red color, with a red powder. These were noticeably spicier than the others, but not blazing. I could definitely taste the lime and habanero flavors. I preferred these to the crunchy fajita kind, but not as much as the guacamole ones. So solid overall. The spice did build up as I kept eating (I was a pig and scarfed down the entire bag in one sitting).
All in all, then, I came away fairly impressed by Takis. They ranged from decent to good, and I think I will buy them again if/when I get the chance. I'm especially eager to try the Cobra flavored ones, if for no other reason than to find out what flavor the world's largest venomous snake has. Also, similar to Cheese Doodles, et. al., all of these Takis were a bit messy to eat--your fingers will be coated in powder afterwards. Finally, if anyone is interested, you can watch multiple challenge videos on YouTube wherein consumers eat the spicier flavors of Takis while avoiding drinking water, or milk, or other things to relieve the burn in their mouths.