Doritos are one of America’s most beloved crunch snacks. The crispy tortilla chips coated in a tasty variety of powdered flavors are the perfect side for a burger, delightful for dipping, great for nachos, and they even make the perfect taco shell. They come in a variety of colors, and sometimes are even used to make a “bouquet”! Their popularity and variety makes it hard to believe where they started back in the mid 1960’s.
Doritos, a Spanish word meaning little golden things, were not the inventors of tortilla chips, they were simply the first company to sell them in mass to the entire US. Their exact origin isn’t exactly certain. One rumor says that a restaurant at Disneyland, Casa de Fritos, which was owned by Frito-Lay at the time, fried up their left over tortillas instead of discarding them and guests loved them. No one is really certain if this is true or not, not even Frito-Lay. There is nothing in their archives to back up the tale, so it is hard to say where the idea really came from.
Frito-Lay, the manufacturer of Doritos, began commercially selling these chips in 1964, where they were only available as plain tortilla chips were described as crispy thin wedges of toasted tortillas with a nice buttery and salty flavor. Basically, they were your average tortilla chip.
The chips gained a big following in Southern California and by 1966 they were sold across the nation. It wasn’t until 1967 that the executives at Frito-Lay decided to change things up a bit and add a new flavor, taco. They simply sprinkled taco seasoning on the chips and sent them to the market. The most popular flavor, Nacho Cheese, wasn’t available until 1972. In 1994 Cooler Ranch Doritos were introduced, now known only as Cool Ranch. In 1999 the company launched Smokey Red BBQ in via a Super Bowl commercial starring Ali Landry. In 2001 Zesty Sour Cream & Cheddar hit store shelve. White Nacho Cheese was introduced in 2004. All Nighter Cheeseburger Doritos made their official debut in 2010, and Rainbow Doritos were sold only for a limited period of time in 2015. A very thorough history of this popular snack can be found here.