Those delicious golden triangles of crunch we know as Doritos have an incredible history.
Whether it's a kids party, a BBQ (or braai as we call it in South Africa), or a quick snack from the vending machine, almost everyone will recognise a bag of Doritos.
But, did you know that the name loosely translates to "little pieces of gold"? I bet you didn't. I reckon you also don't know that, before the corn chips went on to make the company billions of dollars, Disneyland considered them garbage and tossed them in the trash.
The history is complicated, with plenty of players, some better know than others, who all had influential roles to play. In the early 1930s, Charles Elmer Doolin bought a small fried corn chip business from a Mexican named Gustavo Olguin for $100. Financed by his mother, who sold her wedding ring for $80, Doolin called his chips Fritos, and he and his family would make them in her kitchen.
After a hard slog of travelling through the Midwest in his Model-T Ford, sales started to pick up, and demand outstripped supply. Fortunately, Doolin and his brother had a decent knowledge of mechanical engineering, and they built a machine that could mass-produce the Fritos.
While moving premises from the kitchen to the garage and then the house next door to their mother, the Doolin brothers introduced a new product to the chip range. The called them Cheetos, and they were an instant hit.
Demand for their delicious snacks eventually led them to purchase manufacturing plants. Inspired by Henry Ford's assembly line, they developed one of their own to automate the process to meet demand.
Charles went as far as to get farmers to grow a variety of corn for him to sample until he found the one he loved the most. This would become one of the secret ingredients to his flavourful creations.
Eventually, he opened a restaurant in the Happiest Place On Earth, Disneyland, where they used Fritos as an ingredient in their dishes, which were a fusion of Mexican and American cuisine. Unfortunately, Charles died four years after opening the Casa de Fritos and never saw the success that would follow the company.
However, the idea of keeping hold of Mexican tradition while persuing the American dream started long before Charles and his success with Fritos. In 1896, a Mexican-American businessman named José Bartolome Martinez built the first massive flour mill in the US. This is significant because he would go on to create tamalina and masa in bulk. The leftovers from the daily grind would become the base for the triangle, mid-thick deep-fried chip many years later.
There were other influential players too. For instance, a salesman from a company called Alex Foods, who suggested to the cook of Casa de Fritos that he deep-fries the leftover tortillas instead of throwing them out. The chef liked the suggestion and, after adding herbs and spices, added the tortillas to the menu. Again, it was a hit.
Soon afterwards, Fritos and Lay Ltd merged to become Frito•Lay. With their four products, namely Fritos, Cheetos, Lay's and Ruffles, they would go on to bring in $127,000,000 in revenue.
As a new company, they brought in an outsider as VP of Marketing. His name was Arch West, and he would be the man to defy orders and bring Doritos to the world. He helped Frito•Lay to make billions of dollars while bringing joy to our tastebuds.
All of these people are legends, and you should definitely watch the video below by YouTuber, Hook, to find out more.