Madden NFL Doritos Impressions: Saltier. Cheesier. Orange-ier.S

Madden NFL 11 strives to make your football video game experience "simpler, quicker, deeper." Not sure what dedicated Dorito support can add to this - maybe "more stoned?" - but two flavors "inspired" by the game have hit store shelves.

As the clear market leader with an exclusive license, Frito-Lay is dogged by knee-jerk consumer criticism that it has no incentive to innovate and simply releases a $3.99 ingredient update each year. Plus everyone knows Tim's Cascade Style Steak & Onion Potato Chips got like a 107 on Metacritic before it was discontinued.

The fact remains, this is the only EA Sports-licensed snack chip available, and by virtue of that it's guaranteed to sell every year. Does that still mean it's worth your money? Or should you just wait and pick up a used bag two months from now at GameStop?

Hated

(Secretly Loved)
Stadium Nacho: I was intrigued by what Frito-Lay intended to do with this because Doritos already has a nacho flavor - the good old red bag you've been cramming your hand into for the past 46 years. Give the devil his due, Stadium Nacho does capture that weird creaminess of cheese sludge that looks like it was melted down from about 24 pairs of polyester slacks. The watery jalapeno notes also are spot-on in their disinterested lack of heat. Plus, the whole thing's already on a corn chip, albeit more crisp than those final flaccid wedges buried under the orange goo. If this isn't snack foods' first virtuoso recreation of an actual dish, it's one of a few, but it's not like Frito-Lay was shooting for the sautéed sea bass at Chez Panisse. Rating: Orange.

Tailgater BBQ: Kansas City fans barbecue beef; Carolina fans barbecue pork. Many others just grill hot dogs or hamburgers. This chip flavor is so generic it invokes really the only thing that 32 tailgates have in common, which is a charcoal briquette and tailpipe exhaust. There's plenty of smoke that's vaguely mesquitelike, hustled by an evasive sweetness carrying notes either of honey or the backwash from a Smirnoff Ice. That, or they just took a sheet of corn and spray-insulated it with the flavor dust from barbecue Ruffles. Rating: Unleaded.

Not many know this but at the nadir of one of my many periods of unemployment I interviewed for a PR gig with Pepsico, the folks who run the Frito factory. It was more awkward than a blind date with your Sunday School teacher. But I got some free chips and the "good for you/better for you/fun for you," breakdown of how they position snacks.

These Madden chips are definitely in the latter but the fun wears off before it begins. You're looking at 23 percent of your daily fat intake in a 2.125-ounce bag. Ouch. And you know how it is with any food item within reach of a gamer - Doritos, popcorn, chicken cordon bleu, it's all getting mindlessly inhaled. So the smaller configurations are advisable.

The big inducement here is a nine-digit code printed on the bag to redeem exclusive cards for Madden Ultimate team, which is included free in Madden NFL 11. You also get a $3 discount coupon to buy the game through the EA Store. So there's that. But as is the case with all gaming-themed foodstuffs, these don't rise above the regret of eating the whole thing.

Doritos Stadium Nacho Inspired By EA Sports Madden NFL 11 and Doritos Tailgater BBQ Inspired By EA Sports Madden NFL 11 were developed by Frito-Lay and distributed by a nice man who drives a colorful truck. Retails for between $3.99 and $0.99 USD. Bags of the snacks were found in a box shipped to us Friday by EA Sports. A police report has been filed. Ate both modes but did not complete the singleplayer career.

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