eli5: Why do products that are essentially just “Corn, Oil, and Salt” (like Frito’s, Doritos, popcorn, Bugles, CornNuts, etc) taste SO different from each other?


I get that they are “similar”, and use different corn types and manufacturing processes, but since the labels do not list any other added flavors or ingredients, shouldn’t they just all taste about the same? After all isn’t it just corn, oil and salt? Yet they are very different in flavor.

In: 58

It mostly has to do with the ratio of each of the ingredients to each other, the variety of each ingredient used, as well as the method of preparation. How much corn/oil/salt, what type of corn/oil/salt you use (iodized salt? sea salt? yellow corn? sweet corn? what kind of oil?), how was the chip fried in the oil, what temperature, how long it was submerged, how the corn was milled, what equipment was used, etc. So many different factors go into food manufacturing.

Tortilla chips are made with nixtamalized corn, which has been processed with alkali. Fritos, however, are made with plain cornmeal. The alkali process changes a lot about how corn cooks, and also makes it more nutritious.

Different ways of processing and cooking the corn can also create different amounts of “toasted” flavor.

Apparently, Doritos are made from a specific “breed” of corn that the Frito-Lays company either bred & created themselves, or else somehow managed to buy all/any farms with this type of corn…so that Doritos can never truly be reproduced with the same flavor/crunch by any knock off/cheater brands