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Cheez Redux

August 9, 2010
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Apparently we weren’t the only ones fascinated by the death of Cheez Doodle inventor Morrie Yohai.

As I surf around the interwebs, I keep running across references to Morrie and his compelling cheesy snack.

So, a couple of additional things that are worth noting. First, I sort of assumed (yes, assumed) that Cheez Doodles pre-dated Cheetos. Apparently not so. And I know it’s true because I read it in the Paper of Record. Those guys are never wrong, right?

In the world of mass-marketed tube-shaped cornmeal snacks, Cheetos actually came before Cheez Doodles. Cheetos were introduced nationally in 1948, one of the original snack foods produced by the Frito Company, years before it merged with H. W. Lay & Company to form Frito-Lay Inc., now a division of PepsiCo. The first Cheez Doodles were produced in 1964.

Mr. Yohai was the man behind the Cheez Doodle. Charles Elmer Doolin was the one behind the Cheeto.

Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Mr. Doolin, the founder of the Frito Company and the son of an inventor, experimented in a little kitchen next to his office in Dallas.

“We were taste-testers, guinea pigs,” Mr. Doolin’s daughter, Kaleta Doolin, 60, said of her and her four siblings.

Ms. Doolin, who is writing a book called “Fritos Pie: The Family Story of the Frito Company,” says when she sees people eating Cheetos and Fritos, she thinks of her father, who died in 1959. She prefers Fritos. Her 20-year-old son prefers Cheetos. “Maybe it’s a generation thing,” she said.

Cheez Doodles are better than Cheetos. That’s a no-brainer. But are either of them better than Fritos? I do not really feel comfortable making that statement. Fritos are a pretty damn good — and exceedingly underrated — snack food.

Second, the Times also briefly explores the retail side of the distribution chain:

In the delis and bodegas of New York, cheese puffs come down to dollars and cents, and not very many of them, it turns out. The manager of the Oscar L. Inc. convenience store in Hell’s Kitchen estimated that each week, he usually sells about one 24-package box of Cheetos and one box of Cheez Doodles. The weekly profit on both boxes: about $10.

He was asked why he even bothered. “We need to,” said the manager, Sang Bae, 50. “Some people come in looking for it.”

As a denizen of Hell’s Kitchen, I say to Sang Bae: Thank you, we appreciate it.

And with that, here you go, how they make Cheez Doodles:

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 9, 2010 12:12 pm

    Fritos are better in small quantities, but if you’re planning to sit down with the Giants and Eagles and commit yourself to the entire bag, Cheez Doodles are the way to go. Unless you have company. That “cheese” can get all over a brother’s fingers. It’s a little too messy.

  2. August 9, 2010 12:19 pm

    Personally I like Fritos better than Cheez Doodles, but they’re both fine snacks and go down nicely with a beer or 14. And cheers to Sang Bae, a deli owner who’s concerned about his snacking cliental, rather than a big profit.

  3. jco permalink
    August 9, 2010 12:22 pm

    Fritos are, in my view, hands down the best salty, crunchy, addictive snack food ever made.

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