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“Little Bits Of Gold”

September 27, 2011

Arch West, the guy who came up with Doritos (does one “invent” a Dorito?) died.

I think the dude deserves substantial respect, he not only came up with something that is well in the sweet-spot of snacking nirvana, but he also came up with the disgusting concept of “Nacho Cheese”. What the fuck is Nacho Cheese? In any event, he came, he saw, he left his mark. What more can one ask? Well, it turns out he also had a hand in Funyuns. Can’t win them all.

Mr. West, who died Sept. 20 at age 97, was a marketing vice president at Frito-Lay in the early 1960s when he came across a restaurant near San Diego where the chips were especially tasty. After he failed to persuade his bosses to copy the product as a companion to the company’s corn-based Fritos and Cheetos, Mr. West secretly spent part of his budget on the project anyway.

Introduced nationally in 1966, Doritos — “little bits of gold” is how Frito-Lay translates the name — were a hit in plain and what the company called “taco” flavors. The Nacho cheese flavor, which Frito-Lay said was a blend of cheddar and Romano, debuted in 1972 under Mr. West’s guidance. The chips were aimed at the youth market, marketed as “the with-it chip.” Doritos became Frito-Lay’s second-biggest seller, behind Lay’s potato chips.

Mr. West was a native of Franklin, Ind. He grew up in a Masonic home for boys after his father, a Mason, died. Mr. West won a scholarship to Franklin College and became a cheese salesman.

Sales of Doritos grew to more than $1.2 billion in the past year, according to SymphonyIRI Group, a market-research firm in Chicago. But it didn’t make Mr. West rich. “It’s not like we got royalties,” said his daughter, Jana Hacker. Mr. West was also involved with developing other products, including Funyuns.

Oh, wait, as I was posting this I found out one more incredibly gross tidbit:

The family requested that friends and relatives who attend the graveside service be allowed to toss Doritos around the box as a tribute.

“He would think it is hilarious,” said his daughter Jana Hacker, a resident of the Dallas area. “The cemetery does not mind because they are biodegradable.”


4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 27, 2011 11:34 pm

    Saw the title and thought this was a post about Goldschlager.

    • Fat Al permalink*
      September 28, 2011 9:47 am

      Sorry to disappoint. Personally, I prefer Don Julio with my Doritos.

  2. jco permalink
    September 28, 2011 10:00 am

    I like a little Goldschlager with my Funyons, actually.

  3. September 28, 2011 12:37 pm

    A true snacking visionary. However they should’ve been allowed to toss Funyuns, I’d think they’d be easier to throw.

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