How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

The cross-cultural legacy of Doritos

Photo courtesy of Jim Benning

Doritos then (okay, sort of - a Hipstamaticized bag of resurrected Original Taco in vintage packaging)

Photo courtesy of Jim Benning

Doritos then (okay, sort of - a Hipstamaticized bag of resurrected Original Taco in vintage packaging)


It might seem to some who read this blog that I'm a fan of junk food. I'm not, really, unless it involves something doused in Tapatío sauce. But in recent days, after reading a series of obituaries for Archie West, the man credited with inventing Doritos, I've become fascinated with the chips' cultural legacy.

The dusty little corn-based triangles were, according to lore, inspired by an encounter that West had with real Mexican fried tortilla chips while he was traveling in California in the early 1960s. The Doritos product launched in 1964. The first flavored variety appeared a few years later, something involving brownish flavored dust dubbed "Taco" that tasted nothing like tacos, in a bag that implied something Mexicanish, but wasn't.

Doritos, what a long way you've come. The blog Now That's Nifty lists 102 flavors of Doritos, a sum that seems like an undercount. The list doesn't include Tapatío sauce flavor, a recent innovation. Still, that's a lot of flavored dust. Flavors from around the world that are listed range from the ubiquitous Nacho Cheese and Salsa Verde stateside to flavors like Sesame Chicken and Tandoori Sizzler and the intriguing Mr. Dragon's Fire Chips.

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