In the early 1960s, in Disneyland in California, a restaurant decided to experiment with surplus tortillas, creating a unique kind of snack chip that proved a local hit. A corporate executive with Frito-Lay took notice and eventually acquired the rights to distribute them. In 1966, Frito-Lay launched Doritos nationally, starting with a simple toasted corn before adding other flavors down the road. The legendary Nacho Cheese version launched in 1972, and Cool Ranch hit stores in 1986.
Doritos are, like Cheerios, one of those brands that is seemingly impossible to clone. There are plenty of imitators out there, but most people will tell you that, when it comes down to it, the only true Doritos are Doritos. Nevertheless, you can see generic imitations in just about every grocery store. And since Aldi does generic imitations like they’re going out of style, you can bet your middle aisle Aldi would take a shot at this one.
Clancy’s Cheese Flavored Tortilla Chips and Clancy’s Ranch Flavored Tortilla Chips are both Regular Buys. That means you can find them in stores every day. At the time of this post, they both come in 11-ounce bags for $1.19, or about 10.8 cents an ounce. For comparison, a 9 1/2-ounce bag of Doritos costs us $3.29, or 34.6 cents an ounce. Doritos are over 3 times as expensive as the Aldi version, unless perhaps you buy the Doritos in a larger bag at a slightly lower cost per ounce.
Nutritionally, Clancy’s chips are pretty similar to Doritos, with similar amounts of calories, sodium, fat, carbs, and ingredients.
We subjected both the Nacho Cheese and the Cool Ranch Aldi-ritos (as like to call them) to a side-by side taste test with their brand name counterparts.
Our four taste testers first sampled the Nacho Cheese chips. To our great shock, we had a really hard time telling the difference between the two. They had a nearly equal cheesiness and a very similar texture. Not only did the Aldi chips come close on the flavoring, but the chips were neither too thick nor too thin. We didn’t expect it, so we were surprised to discover it.
We next tried out the Cool Ranch chips. Unlike the other chips, with these our panel unanimously gave the edge to the brand name. We found Cool Ranch Doritos to have a better flavor than Clancy’s, although the difference wasn’t enormous.
Aldi has done a better-than-expected job with its Doritos imitations. Our panel found Clancy’s Nacho Cheese Tortilla Chips to be almost indistinguishable from Doritos, and while we thought Doritos Cool Ranch Tortilla Chips were a little better than Clancy’s Cool Ranch Tortilla Chips, it wasn’t a light years difference. Given the big-time cost savings of Clancy’s over Doritos, we think the Aldi products are worth a hard look if you want Doritos-style chips on a budget.