Since we all seem to like some snack food from time to time, I thought a little history of one of the favorites might be in order.
This piece of trivia was actually new to me, so I figured it was worth sharing! The information actually came from Dan Lewis over at "Now I Know!"
the iconic theme park in Anaheim, California, officially opened its
gates for the first time on July 17, 1955. The park quickly became a
cultural touchstone around the world. In 1959, Nikita Khrushchev, the
Soviet Premier, visited the United States and requested to visit the
park; this request was famously denied. A few years later, the Shah of
Iran visited the park and rode the Matterhorn roller coaster with Walt
Disney himself. (There's even a video of the ride, replete with campy
music, available here.) Disneyland bridged cultures in a way few others have.
Perhaps realizing the future value of an association with Disneyland,
Charles Elmer Doolin, the founder and then-CEO of the Frito Company,
sought to open a restaurant at the park just months after its opening.
That restaurant, named "Casa de Fritos," strived to introduce Mexican
cuisine (loosely defined) to a world of tourists (and to a lesser
degree, locals) who typically did not have an opportunity to experience
such food. The restaurant was probably more a marketing scheme than
itself a moneymaker. Fritos-brand corn chips were the ubiquitous snack
at the Casa --
according to a tribute site called "DaveLand"
(which has many historic photos of the restaurant) there was even a
"Fritos Kid" vending machine selling Fritos for a nickel. Doolin and
company hoped that Casa de Fritos would introduce a new generation of
consumers to their corn chips, and Fritos would be the one "Mexican"
thing tourists would continue to purchase when they returned home from
As any Mexican restaurant would, Casa de Fritos sold tortillas. They did
not make them on-site. Rather, they purchased them from a local food
distributor named Alex Foods. It is a fool's errand to try and guess
exactly the right number of tortillas needed for any given day, and one
does not want to run out, so Casa de Fritos regularly purchased more
According to OC Weekly,
at one point in the 1960s, one of the Alex Foods salesmen saw the
wasted tortillas at Casa de Fritos and suggested that the chefs cut them
up and fry them, turning them into chips. The chefs took the salesman's
advice, added some Mexican seasonings, and gave them to customers.
They were a hit. By the mid-1960s, Arch West, then Fritos' Vice
President of Marketing, noticed the popularity of the chips and
approached Alex Foods about making them at scale, intending to produce
them as a regional snack food. West and his team came up with a name for
the chip -- a Spanish word meaning "little golden things" -- and found
that their successes as Casa de Fritos were not only replicated, but
exceeded. In 1966, these chips -- which we now know as Doritos -- were a
Today, Frito-Lay sells
roughly $4 to $5 billion worth of Doritos each year.
Don't you just love food history? Only trouble is, this kind of history always makes me a little hungry! Now I need a snack!
Coffee on the patio this morning. Might need some shade, as the temps are going back toward the 90s!