The late 90s were a turbulent time for snack foods. You couldn’t go into a laundromat without Ali Landry walking in and flirtatiously tossing nacho-flavored corn chips into a dryer and eating them as they shot out into the air at dangerous speeds. But that was 23 years ago, and times have changed. Many of us might be feeling like we’ve been hit and flattened by the figurative truck that was 2020, but Doritos 3Ds are back to save the day for all of us, including Matthew McConaughey.
There is a certain degree of absurdity to Doritos 3Ds back when they were originally introduced in 1998, and nothing has really changed. The mid to late 90s was the ‘extreme’ era of marketing; everything had to be bigger, bolder, and louder. Nintendo was running the Play It Lou” campaign for the N64, cartoons like “Extreme Dinosaurs,” “Extreme Ghostbusters,” and “G.I. Joe Extreme” were fighting for airtime, and even our snacks had to take on a new dimension.
Enter Doritos 3Ds.
The commercial that introduced them to the world is so rife with ’90s era attitude and bad CGI that you can almost feel the flow of time reversing itself. If it’s not Sean Hayes flicking the chips into the air or the “cheesy” sensual aura surrounding Ali Landry’s strutting, stretching, and doing splits in the laundromat, it’s the final statement of “Aye chi wow wa” that seals the carbon dating on this wondrously dated monstrosity.
Flash forward to 2021 and behold- during Super Bowl LV, we have a commercial with a CGI Matthew McConaughey rendered as if he’s a 2D paper cut-out. Apparently this Academy Award-winning actor is now feeling a bit flat and deflated by life. So much so, that like a high school student in “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” his thoughts have somehow manifested themselves by transforming him into that which he feels he is.
And so we follow Flat Matt through his daily tribulations until this rejected character from “Paper Mario” comes across a vending machine that contains within it, Doritos 3D. Upon eating them, McConaughey regains his three-dimensional form but becomes trapped in the vending machine that his paper like self slipped into in order to steal said snacks. It’s like an O. Henry story but with cheese flavored corn meal chips.
It is so bizarre to be witnessing this and writing about it today. Doritos 3Ds were actually pretty damn good. Their bite-sized nature and different texture from a regular Doritos chip made them an enjoyable little treat and a nice change of pace from the norm. The marketing campaign felt dated even when it commenced though, ultimately making the chip feel like a cheap ploy to be more culturally relevant.
Compared to that, this latest ad is actually pretty tasteful, pun completely intended. It’s not often you can say that a 2D Matthew McConaughey is tastefully well-done, but the guy has an Oscar, which is more than Sean Hayes and Ali Larter can say.
So here’s to you Doritos 3D. It’s good to see you back after two decades. It’s also completely unexpected and ridiculous given your history. After the madness that was 2020 though, ridiculous might be just what we need.