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Disneyland Article
Doritos The Super Bowl Favorite Snack Were Created At Disneyland
Julie Tremaine
Of all the beautiful things Disney has given the world — anthropomorphic mice, immersive-environment theme parks, monorails — there’s only one that’s part of countless Super Bowl spreads in homes across America today. (And no, I’m not talking about the “I’m going to Disneyland!” thing. That’s another story.) You’ve probably got it in your kitchen right now, actually.

Doritos, you might be surprised to learn, were invented at Disneyland. Not only that: They started as trash.

In the early years of Disneyland, corporate sponsorship of attractions was more overt than the more subtle approach today. Pym Test Kitchen in Avengers Campus for example, which opened last year, is sponsored by Impossible Foods, but the name of the restaurant is much more prominent than the subtle “Featuring Impossible” signage below it. Back then, it was places with obvious naming rights and exclusive offerings, such as Monsanto’s Hall of Chemistry showing off what the LA Times really, truly described as “the romance of chemistry,” the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship offering “a tuna sandwich, a tuna burger, or a hot tuna pie” and the Welch’s stand selling Welch’s grape juice.

One of those corporate sponsorships was from Fritos (what later became Frito-Lay), which opened Casa de Fritos in 1955, just a few months after the park opened. The restaurant served “authentic Mexican food,” as it says on this 1955 menu, like “spaghetti and chili” for $0.40 and a combination plate featuring two tamales, rice, beans, salad and a “ta-cup,” which is apparently a miniature taco salad in a small bowl made of Fritos, for $1. The plate also came with a side of Fritos.

Every menu at Casa de Fritos had a history of how company founder C.E. Doolin bought the recipe for what would become Fritos from a family-run Mexican restaurant in San Antonio and turned it into a massive snack food brand. The restaurant also had an interactive attraction featuring the Frito Kid, the food’s former mascot.

“You only want a snack? While at the Casa, visit the Frito Kid, a combination statue and vending machine,” Werner Weiss wrote for Disney blog Yesterland. “Drop a nickel in the coin slot and a bag of delicious Fritos corn chips appears in the Kid’s gold mine.”

With all of the “ta-cupping” happening in the kitchen, the restaurant went through a lot of tortillas, sourced from Orange, California’s Alex Foods. This is where the Doritos magic starts.

“One day, a salesman from Alex Foods noticed that Casa de Fritos was dumping stale tortillas in the trash,” Bob Sorokanich wrote for Gizmodo. “He gave the kitchen a tip: instead of trashing the stale tortillas, cut them up and fry them.”

Effectively, they were just tortilla chips, without any of the orange “nacho cheese” powder we gleefully lick off our fingers today. But people loved them. With “hot tuna pie” as a contemporary food option in the park, it’s no wonder Doritos were a hit with park guests.

One of those people: Archibald Clark West, who worked for Fritos. He contacted Alex Foods to start producing the snack for sale in 1964, and by 1966, Alex Foods was out and Frito-Lay was selling Doritos — Spanish for “little gold ones” — throughout the country. That flavor was “original,” but in 1968 the company released “taco,” then “nacho cheese” in 1974, according to Consumer Reports. “In the last 50 years, there have been more than 100 different varieties of Doritos,” Laura Northrup wrote.

You can now buy Doritos and Fritos at snack stands throughout Disney parks but not from the restaurant where they were invented.

Casa de Fritos was originally located near what’s now Stage Door Café and the Golden Horseshoe in Frontierland, but moved to a larger location due to its popularity. After Frito-Lay’s sponsorship ended, the restaurant became Casa Mexicana sponsored by Lawry’s Foods, and eventually what is now Rancho del Zocalo near Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which was originally sponsored by Ortega. It serves the same kind of Mexican-inspired fare such as enchiladas and tacos. There is one remaining relic of Casa de Fritos at the park today, as Disney historian Marcy Carriker Smothers noted: The California flag that once flew at the original restaurant is framed inside Rancho del Zocalo today.

When West died in 2011, he requested to be buried with his favorite invention. “Snacking on Doritos is typically discouraged at funerals, as the loud crunch of the popular junk food tends to drown out heartfelt eulogies and generally detract from the somber mood of the occasion,” Seth Abramovich wrote for Gawker, but not at that particular funeral. West’s family complied with his wishes, tossing Doritos into his grave in Dallas before he was interred.

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