The Doritos Origin Story: Repurposed Garbage from Disneyland

(Photo: James)

Superman was the last survivor of his species. Batman was an orphan who witnessed the murder of his own parents. Wolverine was the bastard son of a violent drunk.

The best of superheroes start at the bottom of human suffering and crawl their way out to greatness. The Dorito chip is no different. It began as garbage at a Frito-Lay restaurant in Disneyland. Archibald Clark West, a son of impoverished immigrants to the United States, found a great opportunity. Emily Upton writes for Today I Found Out:

The idea for Doritos was conceived in Disneyland, of all places. It wasn’t West who actually first made them, either. The original Doritos were made in Casa de Fritos, a restaurant owned by the Fritos founder, Elmer Doolin. The restaurant was located in Frontierland and served standard Tex-Mex, with every meal boasting a complimentary bag of Fritos. The restaurant was a hit, but it didn’t make its own tortillas, a job which was contracted out to Alex Foods. It was a salesman from Alex Foods who saw discarded tortillas at Casa de Fritos and told the cook he should fry them up and make tortilla chips out of them, rather than just throw them out. Because tortilla chips weren’t yet made by Fritos, and Fritos themselves were given out with the meals, Casa de Fritos hadn’t thought to offer them like other Mexican restaurants did.

The cook did as he advised and used his own special blend of seasoning and the chips were a hit. The restaurant put them on the menu as a regular item but didn’t inform the Frito Company of the change.

About a year later, in 1961, West walked by the restaurant on a family vacation and noticed the chips. He was then the vice president of marketing for the company and felt like he had stumbled upon a goldmine. When he returned to work, he pitched the idea of selling packaged tortilla chips—a happy medium between Lay’s thin potato chips and Fritos’ thick, curly corn chips. His bosses weren’t initially convinced.

Yet West persisted and brought Doritos to the world. When he passed away in 2011 at the age of 97, his family sprinkled Doritos on his grave.

-via Death & Taxes via Super Punch

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