It was the spring of 2001 — May, to be exact — but I remember it like it was yesterday: My good buddy Rahul and I were spending a week driving around the fine state of Vermont, soaking in the local color and scouting out locations for Posh Jefito Retirement Manor. We stopped for the afternoon in Morrisville, near Stowe, and decided to have lunch at an establishment by the name of Bonz Smokehouse Bar & Grill (motto: “We Smoke Our Own”).

It was here that I first experienced the power of the habanero.

I’d never been much of a spicy-food guy to that point, but for some reason, that day found me craving the absolute hottest food that Bonz had to offer. The next-to-spiciest stuff wasn’t good enough, friends; neither, matter of fact, was the spiciest. No, here’s what we did: We ordered two pounds of wings coated in jalapeño and habanero dipping sauce on the side.

Oh my God, people, you haven’t lived until you’ve been to Bonz Smokeouse Bar & Grill in Morristown, Vermont. I’ve been to Italy, I’ve been to Paris, I’ve been to Belgium…but the most transcendent dining experience of my entire life, without a doubt, took place that afternoon. We laughed as the habanero tears rolled down our faces (or was that just sweat escaping from our eye sockets? I don’t know); we desperately fanned our open mouths; we breathlessly begged for milk.

I will go back there someday.

In the meantime, believe me when I say that — no matter what the ingredients say — no actual habaneros were harmed in the making of these stupid new chips:

If I were a Spanish-speaking American, I would be royally pissed off with all this pandering. Really. You’ve gotta read the back of the bag, which promises that when you take these home, you will “experience that MASSIVE Doritos® brand crunch as it IGNITES a nuclear explosion of habanero, jalapeño, and chipotle peppers in your mouth!” — and then repeats the same crap in Spanish.

Como se dice “soooooooooo lame”?