Doritos, produced by the American company Frito-Lay, are the most popular snack chip in the United States. Doritos are similar to potato chips, but are made with corn and a variety of spices and seasonings. The brand is known for its tangy taste and spicy, zesty kick. Some flavors, such as Cool Ranch Doritos, are also available in low-fat varieties.
The brand was launched in 1966, the year after H.W. Lay's "Frito-Lay Company" (the maker of Fritos) merged with the Pepsi-Cola Company to form PepsiCo, Inc. Pepsi-Cola had hoped to use the merger to its advantage, since salty snacks and cold carbonated drinks fit naturally together; however, an Federal Trade Commission anti-trust lawsuit brought against Frito-Lay in 1963 stifled many of Pepsi's aspirations. For example, the FTC barred PepsiCo from creating cross-promotions between Frito products and Pepsi-brand beverages.
Nevertheless, Frito-Lay's new product — the triangular tortilla chips known as Doritos — took off, thanks to their being "more flavorful and crunchier" than any competing brand. In 1968, Doritos' star rose higher with the introduction of taco-flavored Doritos; and in 1972 came nacho cheese–flavored Doritos. (Cool Ranch Doritos would not be introduced until Frito-Lay's exuberant expansion in the late 1980s.)
As the triangular snack with the tangy crunch penetrated national markets, it gradually lost its ethnic, "Mexican" character, much as Frito-Lay's flagship Fritos had lost theirs over the preceding 40 years. (Around the same time, in 1971, Frito-Lay retired its cartoon mascot, the Tex Avery–animated "Frito Bandito".) This "blandishment" of the snack's image may have helped it gain traction outside the Southwest, where Frito-Lay had always been strongest. (Frito-Lay's headquarters were and still are located in Texas.) By 1985, Doritos were raking in sales of $500 million annually; by the end of the decade, they were being sold in 20 countries worldwide.
By 1993, Doritos were the #1 snack food in America, with annual sales of roughly $1.3 billion. Actress Ali Landry made a name for herself as the "Doritos Girl" in an acclaimed series of advertisements which debuted during the 1998, 1999, and 2000 Superbowls. More recently, Nacho Cheese Doritos sponsored satirist Stephen Colbert's abortive mock run for the Presidency. (According to Frito-Lay spokesman Jared Dougherty, Frito-Lay "has an ongoing relationship" with Viacom, the parent company of Comedy Central.) In April 2008, the Doritos brand sponsored a reality television series on MTV to promote its launch of Spicy Sweet Chili–flavored chips.
On June 12, 2008, Doritos launched the world's first "extraterrestrial" advertising campaign, broadcasting a 30-second spot via "high-powered radars" located at the Arctic Circle and operated by the European Incoherent Scatter Scientific Association (EISCAT).
One prominent criticism of the original Doritos formula was that the chips were "too heavy, too thick, and too crunchy", a criticism which the Frito-Lay Company initially addressed by creating Tostitos, a thinner, lighter, crispier snack chip. In 1994, the Doritos formula itself was changed to make the chips "20 percent larger, 15 percent thinner, and stronger tasting", and to give the chips rounded corners that would not break off and leave wasted scraps in the bottom of the bag.
It has also been pointed out that Doritos' many new flavors and varieties (22 varieties as of 2008) are typically only slight variations on two themes: "spicy cheese" and "cool". Exceptions to this general rule include the "plain"-flavored Doritos "Toasted Corn" Tortilla Chips and several generally short-lived or promotional flavors, such as Doritos Guacamole.
- "[Doritos are] uninhibited and irreverent ... If you think of [the] Doritos brand as a person, it would be a likable wise guy." —Roger Berdusco, Frito-Lay VP of marketing
- Spicy Nacho
- Toasted Corn
- Nacho Cheese
- Black Pepper Jack
- Salsa Verde
- Blazin' Buffalo & Ranch
- Cool Ranch
- Four Cheese
- Pizza Cravers
- http://www.pepsico.com/PEP_Company/History/ — 1966 Milestones
- Glenn Collins, "Pepsico Pushes a Star Performer". The New York Times, November 3, 1994.
- "Stephen Colbert's 'Hail to the Cheese' Presidential Candidacy: Why the Comedian's Campaign Raises Serious Questions about the Role of Corporate Money In Elections". Richard L. Hasen, FindLaw.com. November 9, 2007.
- "Colbert snacking with Doritos again". Gail Schiller, The Hollywood Reporter. March 21, 2008.
- "MTV, Doritos Partner for Reality Series". Press release.
- "The Biggest Scam in the History of the Flavored Corn Tortilla Chips Industry". "The Trifecta", September 16, 2007.
- "Nutritional Information: DORITOS Toasted Corn Tortilla Chips"
- "Doritos Guacamole!", taquitos.net
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgMyrXGmDhI — Doritos Guacamole TV commercial