Why Are Doritos Flammable?

Doritos: ‘For the Bold’.

With a slogan like that, who wouldn’t want to try a packet of these crunchy, orange snacks?

Whether you consider them to be nostalgic childhood snacks, or you still consider them to be a favorite to this very day, many of us have tried a Dorito or two within our lifetimes. With several different flavors to choose from, these tortilla chips are considered the perfect snack for so many people.

No, they’re probably not the healthiest food you could pick from the shelf, but who cares about that? We’re here for the flavor, and if there is anything that just a singular Dorito truly delivers, it is just that. And, they taste even better with some dip.

Why Are Doritos Flammable

So, if you’ve clicked on this article, and you’re still reading, there may be a burning question on your mind. 

In fact, the title may have confused you a little: perhaps you didn’t even know that Doritos were flammable.

Well, they are. This is a small piece of useless information you can carry around with you for the remainder of your days. Doritos are highly flammable, in fact, and should be kept far away from flames at all times… unless you’re searching for something to kickstart a fire. 

But, why are they flammable? How is this possible?

Keep reading to find out.

What is a Dorito?

If there is anyone reading this article who doesn’t already know - which, come on, is highly unlikely - Doritos are flavored tortilla chips that come in a variety of different flavors. 

The word itself, ‘dorito’, is taken from the Spanish word ‘doradito’, which roughly translates to ‘little fried, golden thing’ in English. We could not think of another word more perfect to use to describe the small, golden colored snacks ourselves. 

These chips were first produced in the early 1960s by Frito-Lay, a company owned by PepsiCo.

They were originally created at Casa de Fritos - later known as Casa Mexicana, and has since been taken over by Rancho Del Zocalo - a Mexican restaurant at Disneyland, California, which was up and running between 1955 to 2001: the restaurant workers would simply cut up leftover tortilla wraps, fry them until they became solid, and would then add seasoning for flavor.

These snacks became immensely popular, and eventually a deal was made with Frito-Lay to sell the chips commercially. 

These were eventually named Doritos, and they were the first tortilla chips to be nationally released in the United States.

While they were a lot larger and thicker when they were first released, the chips were altered over the decades to become the snacks that we know and love today. When they were first produced, there was only one flavor: Toasted Corn.

They released a variant with taco flavoring in 1967, and as the years went by, more and more flavors were added to the mix, such as Cool Ranch, Spicy Nacho, and Zesty Cheese. 

Doritos are majorly popular to this day, and are some of the most in-demand chips of our generation.

The tortilla chips are now enjoyed internationally, and are considered by many people around the world to be an ‘American’ snack: in some countries, the flavor ‘Cool Ranch’ is actually called ‘Cool American’.

Why (and How) are Doritos Flammable?

So, why does a Dorito burn so easily? 

This may seem like a pretty strange trait for a chip to possess. It’s probably fair to assume that not many of you reading have ever set a Dorito on fire, nor do you ever plan to in the future.

Or, perhaps, you may now be considering it, now that you have gotten this far into the article and have discovered that it is, indeed, possible.

Well, the reasoning is pretty simple.

Doritos are highly flammable, and can burn to a crisp - pardon the pun - within seconds. This is due to the ingredients used to create the tortilla chips.

Depending on the flavor variant that you choose, there should be roughly 34 ingredients used to create a bag of Doritos.

Yes, you read that right: 34 ingredients. The chips are jam packed with sweeteners, coloring, flavourings, and so many other additives that create the overall flavor and appearance of your average Dorito.

Did you know that the snacks, allegedly, not only contain yellow food coloring, but red and blue food coloring too? 

Amongst the many, many ingredients used to produce just one of the chips, one of the main ingredients used is cornstarch, also known as corn flour: this is a carbohydrate taken from the endosperm of corn.

Carbohydrates tend to be highly flammable alone, and this is the main reason that Doritos can catch fire so easily. 

Another ingredient that causes the snacks to be so flammable is, unsurprisingly, vegetable oil.

Doritos, like many other tortilla and potato chips, are thickly coated in oil during the cooking process, and while vegetable oil is not technically flammable, it can still catch fire under certain temperatures. Combined with the carbs, these chips are ready-bred firestarters.

Of course, Doritos will only catch fire if they make contact with a naked flame.

No matter how hot the Flamin’ Hot Tangy Cheese chips may feel on your tongue, there is no danger of your mouth catching on fire while you’re munching your way through a bag of your own. If you were to light the bag up, however, it would go up in flames. Not just that, but it may burn for a very long time. 

Long story short, it is never a good idea to set fire to a shelf stacked with Doritos (don’t try this at home).

Can Doritos be Used to Start a Fire?

As we said previously, once a Dorito has been lit up, it won’t just burn for a moment and swiftly frazzle out: it may burn for a very long time. 

The corn flour and vegetable oil combination makes for the perfect recipe for a firestarter, meaning that you could, technically, empty a couple of bags of Doritos onto a bonfire and witness the flames climb the sky.

While this is not ideal if your house was to catch fire, and you just so happen to be an avid collector of Dorito flavors, it is pretty useful if you ever find yourself at a campfire that doesn’t seem to be lighting up.

You can use this as your next party trick at the beach: next time a fire isn’t taking off, empty a couple of bags of Doritos over the top. Sure, everyone will look at you like you’re crazy at first, but once they see the inevitable, magical results, you’ll be the most popular person at the campfire. 

You should definitely try to remember these facts for your next camping trip. Don’t forget to pack a couple of multipacks of Doritos before you pack up and leave!

Are Any Other Tortilla or Potato Chips Flammable? Which Ones?

It can’t just be Doritos that can kick start a fire, right?

As you can probably imagine, the majority of potato chips and tortilla chips are fried in some sort of oil. Most of them are also created from some form of carbohydrate, whether that be cornstarch or potatoes: both are highly flammable, especially if they are deep fried in oil beforehand.

So, which other chips are flammable? Let’s start by looking at Pringles, a highly popular form of potato chip. There was actually a controversy a couple of years back when several people were arguing over whether a Pringle is a potato chip or - wait for it - a cake.

This was because Pringles contain less than 50% potato matter, mainly being manufactured from dough, and they are not shaped like your ‘average’ potato chip.

It was eventually legally ruled that a Pringle is, indeed, a potato chip, and while we can’t believe that this was ever considered a question, it’s even less believable that it became an actual legal battle, ruled by an official judge. Yep.

Whether a Pringle was legally ruled to be a potato chip or an, ahem, cake, there is no doubting its flammability. In fact, a Pringle can be just as flammable as a Dorito. The flour in the dough that makes up a Pringle will add to its flammability.

Other chips that have been known to easily catch on fire are Lay’s, Fritos, Funyuns, and Cheetos.

As we said previously, most potato chips are likely to be flammable due to the combination of oil, potatoes and salt, so there are hundreds of other salty snacks that can also be used as fire starters. 

However, Doritos are probably the slowest burners, meaning they are the best form of chip to use on a campfire: while they burn pretty hot, they last a long while, continuously burning over time. This is most likely due to the fact that they are made from corn flour instead of potatoes.