Imagine going into a grocery store before the era of convenience foods. You’d see fresh produce, barrels of penny candy, some canned vegetables, probably some cigarettes and snuff. Dapper Dan pomade. What you wouldn’t see would be rows of brightly packaged chips, candy, soft drinks, snack cakes, and frozen foods. And you wouldn’t have found Fritos.
Somehow it’s a bit of a letdown to know that Fritos, which have always had a bit of Tex-Mex vibe (witness banned mascot The Frito Bandito), was actually created by a man named Elmer. Elmer Doolin bought a recipe for fried corn chips for $100 back in 1932 and, according to his daughter, became obsessed with making them right. His kids were his taste testers as he tried variations of recipes and flavors.
Elmer started the Frito Corporation that year. It’s said he envisioned Fritos as a side dish, to be served with soup or a sandwich. He never anticipated that people would just sit down with a bag and munch on them.
The Frito Corporation granted H.W. Lay & Company the rights to market Fritos in the Southeast. The two companies developed a close working relationship, and finally merged in 1961. PepsiCo bought the new company in 1965.
There are lots of flavors of Fritos these days, but the best innovation in Fritechnology was the creation of Scoops. As I, and no doubt millions of other Americans, appreciate each February during that snack food holiday called the Super Bowl. Football fans should especially appreciate Fritos; if they had never been invented, people would have to eat – the horror! – healthful food while watching the big game.