When you’re born at the “happiest place on earth,” you know you are destined for greatness, even if you are a food.
This is exactly where the famous and beloved brand Doritos got its start. Doritos became the number one selling chip for Frito Lays, accounting for over 1/3 its sales, but how did this potato chip get its start?
In the 1960’s, a popular Mexican restaurant named Casa de Fritos in Disneyland got a tip from one of its vendors. Instead of throwing out the scraps or unwanted tortillas that the cooks didn’t use, one of their Alex Foods reps challenged the cooks to fry them and sell them as chips. Which is exactly what they did. Within a short time, this new food was all the rage at the Disneyland restaurant. It created such a reputation that a Frito-Lay marketing rep got wind of this new chip and had to go see it for himself. After a quick visit to Casa de Fritos, the Frito-Lays executive started planning a national roll out for the snack. Finally, in 1966, the brand we all know and love hit the grocery shelves in America.
Originally, the orders were produced and filled regionally by Alex Foods until demand became so high that the vendor could no longer keep up. At this point, production of the Doritos brand was moved to the Frito-Lay’s factory in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Why is it Called Doritos?
The name Doritos most likely comes from the Mexican/Spanish translations for one of the two following terms; dorar – “to brown,” doradito – “golden brown.” Doradito is the most likely origin and was the most commonly used term to describe the fried tortillas that eventually became known as Doritos. However, the cheesy, crispy goodness that we think of when we see Doritos today isn’t how they started. As a matter of fact, the original Doritos were unflavored. It wasn’t until 1972 that Doritos introduced their, now, signature flavor “Nacho Cheese.”
Photo Credit: METV
After the rollout of the 1972 “nacho cheese” flavor, Dorito decided it was time to be bold and try something new. In 1986, the company released the “cool ranch” flavor. The flavor was a huge hit and by 1992, Doritos was one of the top snack brands. Most companies would have taken their foot of the gas after this new hit, but Frito-Lays decided it was time to reformulate the nacho cheese flavor. This reinvention was another home run for Frito-Lays. By 1994, Doritos were producing 1.3 billion in sales and were the number one snack food in America by sales revenue and bags purchased.
So here we are in 2018, and Doritos is still the most purchased Tortilla chip on the market. Reporting roughly 2 billion plus in sales, it is without a doubt a staple in households across the United States.
So where does this innovative brand go from here?
In 2008, Frito-Lays partnered with the European Space Station in the Arctic Circle (EISCAT) to send out the world’s first interstellar advertisement. This message was pulsed out over 6 hours to Ursa Major and was the first attempt to advertise to alien life forms. I guess that’s one mission I did not see coming!
Today, there is more variety on grocery store shelves than ever before, so why do you think Doritos still tops the most popular tortilla chip? Doritos or Lays – what’s your go-to? Comment below. Thanks for reading why is Doritos called Doritos! #whyisitcalledDoritos
Adam Lang is the founder and editor of Rewind & Capture. He is passionate about creative marketing, design and brand etymology.