A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from April 13, 2009
Corn Chip (Fritos)

Entry in progress—B.P.

Wikipedia: Corn chip
A corn chip is a snack food made from cornmeal fried in oil or baked, usually in the shape of a small noodle or scoop. Corn chips are thick, rigid and very crunchy. Corn chips have the strong aroma and flavor of roasted corn, and are often heavily dusted with salt.

In the US, Fritos is one of the oldest and most widely recognized brands of corn chips.

While American-style corn chips and tortilla chips are both made from corn, the corn in tortilla chips is subjected to the nixtamalization process, resulting in a milder flavor and aroma, and a less rigid texture. Tortilla chips also tend to be larger, thinner, and less salty than American-style corn chips.

Corn chips are most often eaten alone or with a chip dip. They are a common ingredient in homemade and commercial party mix. In the Southwestern US, a popular dish is made by adding chili to a bag of corn chips and eating the mixture from the bag.

Wikipedia: Fritos
Fritos is the name of a brand of corn chips made by Frito-Lay. Originally called Fritatas, Elmer Doolin was so taken with the bag of corn chips served with his lunch in San Antonio, Texas that he paid $100 for the recipe. In 1932, he started the Frito Corporation. Original Fritos ingredients are limited to whole corn, corn oil, and salt. Fritos (original and barbecue flavor) are a vegan snack.

From 1952 until 1967, the Frito Kid was the company’s official mascot. The Frito Bandito was its mascot from 1967 until about 1971, and was discontinued due to complaints about the Bandito image. He was replaced by “the Muncha Bunch,” perhaps to recall the name of “The Wild Bunch,” a popular film of the time. In the mid-1970s, Fritos’ mascot was a W. C. Fields caricature, W.C. Fritos. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Fritos used the catchy commercial jingle, “Muncha buncha, muncha buncha, muncha buncha, muncha buncha, Fritos goes with lunch” (sung to the tune of “Aba Daba Honeymoon").

10 July 1932, San Antonio (TX) Express, pg. C5, col. 6 classified ad:
CORN chips business for sale, a new food product, making good money. Must sacrifice. 1015 W. Ashby.

Home Service Bureau
MARIAN MANNERS.  Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File).  Los Angeles, Calif.: Mar 31, 1933.  p. A7 (1 page):
_SOMETHING NEW_
Now we have a brand-new delightful cracker-like food that tastes like more.  It is Cumming’s corn chips, to be used as a base for hors d’oeuvres or as an accompaniment for salads, sandwiches, soups and beverages.  Corn chips are made from choice corn and popcorn, and are cooked by a special process.  Many interested homemakers have semt in recipes suggesting several unique ways to use this new product.  They range from tamale pie to canapes, but the real demand comes from those desiring a tasty tidbit or an added touch to any favorite dish.

Home Service Bureau
MARIAN MANNERS.  Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File).  Los Angeles, Calif.: Apr 7, 1933.  p. A5 (1 page)

Display Ad 17—No Title
Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File).  Los Angeles, Calif.: Apr 7, 1933.  p. A2 (1 page):
Cummings Corn Chips
Mighty good to serve with beer, caviar or cheese...(illegible--ed.)...25c

Display Ad 25—No Title
Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File).  Los Angeles, Calif.: Apr 9, 1933.  p. A4 (1 page)

REQUESTED RECIPES
MARIAN MANNERS.  Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File).  Los Angeles, Calif.: Apr 10, 1933.  p. A7 (1 page):
_CUMMINGS TAMALE PIE_
Five ounces corn chips, 1 1/2 pounds ground round steak, one sliced onion, two buttons garlic (finely chopped,) four tablespoonfuls oil, one tablespoonful chili powder, one can tomato puree, one-half cupful seeded ripe olives, salt and pepper to taste.
Method:  Brown meat, onion, garlic and chili powder in oil, adding enough water to throroughly brown and keep from burning.  Then add tomatoes and cook slowly until meat is tender and mixture has thickened.  Last add the olives.
Grind corn chips in food chopper or meat grinder until finely crumbled.  Butter the bottom and sides of a casserole or baking dish and line with crumb mixture, packing closely to make a firm crust.
Pour a layer of the chili meat mixture on the layer of corn

27 August 1933, San Antonio (TX) Light, part 7, pg. 2, col. 5 classified ad:
FRITO COMPANY
1416 ROOSEVELT K-1217

La Vencedora
TORTILLA MANUFACTURERS
Real Mexican tortillas made fresh and sanitary by machine daily.
TASTOS (TOASTED TORTILLAS)
312 Buena Vista G. 0902
(An identical September 3, 1933 ad had “TOSTOS”—ed.)

2 December 1933, Ironwood (MI) Daily Globe, pg. 6, col. 1 ad:
CHIPS!!
King Korn Corn Chips
Delicious NEW Nutritious
Try A Bag
With Your Favorite Beer

4 January 1934, Ruston (LA) Daily Leader, pg. 2, col. 5 ad:
SOMETHING NEW!
SOMETHING DIFERENT—
SOMETHING BETTER!
FILLER’S GREASLESS (sic)
CORN CHIPS
SERVE AT YOUR NEXT PARTY
Delivious with Cheese or Peanut Butter

NPR
The Birth of the Frito
by The Kitchen Sisters
Morning Edition, October 18, 2007 · When we produced our 1999 NPR series, “Lost & Found Sound,” we said we were chronicling people possessed by sound. With “Hidden Kitchens,” perhaps you could say we are chronicling people possessed by food.

Charles Elmer Doolin is one such man. Possessed by a vision. By corn. By creating snack food. Doolin was obsessed with Fritos, his daughter Kaleta said.

During the Depression in the 1930s, Doolin had a confectionery in San Antonio. Always an innovator, he got a bug to put some kind of corn snack on his counters. Tortillas staled, so Doolin went on a mission. At a gas station, Doolin found a Mexican man making an extruded corn chip out of masa, frying it and selling little bags of the fried corn chips. They were fritos, “little fried things” — the beach food of Mexico.

Doolin bought the patent and 14 customers from the man and began to make the chips in his own kitchen at home, with his mother perfecting his recipe.

“His life was one big hidden kitchen,” his son-in-law Alan Govenar said. Doolin had kitchens in his factory, kitchens in his lab, kitchens with test tubes and beakers in his house.

Kaleta Doolin said his kids were his guinea pigs — helping him test new recipes and flavors. Through these kitchen experiments, C.E. Doolin also invented the Cheeto.

Along the way, Doolin started hybridizing his own corn. The secret ingredient in Fritos, Kaleta Doolin says, is her father’s own, special corn. He hired farmers throughout Texas to plant his varieties until he found the taste he was looking for.

Austin Agrodulce
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Ay yi yi yi
(...)
This corporate cultural insensitivity is made all the more interesting when you discover the inventor of the corn chip was one Gustavo Olguin. In an article for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Bud Kennedy reports Olguin emigrated from Mexico to San Antonio to escape persecution for his political cartoons. While in San Antonio he was a soccer coach as well as a snack food innovator, but he eventually sold his fledgling corn chip business to one Elmer Doolin for a paltry $30. Speculation is that Gustavo became homesick and simply decided to go back across the border.

Doolin, to give credit where due, did change the recipe and process slightly, and came up with the wonderful name, “Frito”. His salty fried corn chips were the entree to bring him top billing in the eventual snack food giant, Frito-Lay. Just to show the invention of the Frito was no fluke, Doolin is also credited as inventor of the Cheeto. Go Elmer!

Months of Edible Celebrations
Monday, February 16, 2009
It’s Snack Food Month!
(...)
Choice #2: Fritos®
Gary Allen @ Leite’s Culinaria has a wonderful article titled In the Chips Dipping into the history of the Super Bowl Favorite which gives some answers to “when dips for chips” became popular. Really cool...Here’s the scoop:

...Meanwhile, in 1932, a young Texan name Elmer Doolin bought the rights to a variation on fried corn tortilla strips. He added an “s” to the Spanish word for “fried,” and called them “Fritos® .” After World War II, Doolin’s business grew to the point where he decided to sell franchises. Herman Lay’s company bought the first one. By 1961 the two companies had merged, forming Frito-Lay, the largest snack-food manufacturer in the country...

Historically, The Birth of the Frito; begins in Texas. In an interview with Doolin descendants, we learn about the “secret ingredient” and a few “family” recipes one which includes chocolate!

During the Depression in the 1930s, Charles Elmer Doolin had a confectionery in San Antonio. Always an innovator, he got a bug to put some kind of corn snack on his counters. Tortillas staled, so Doolin went on a mission. At a gas station, Doolin found a Mexican man making an extruded corn chip out of masa, frying it and selling little bags of the fried corn chips. They were Fritos® , “little fried things” — the beach food of Mexico...Doolin bought the patent and 14 customers from the man and began to make the chips in his own kitchen at home, with his mother perfecting his recipe.

So who was this Mexican man who inspired Charles Elmer Doolin and his family to take the plunge? It just may be a former cafe owner by the name of Gustave Olguin who wanted to return to Mexico. That chip of info is mentioned in the Texas Monthly if you read the entire articlesmile

Fritos® in the Hands of the Doolin Family ...The four Doolins began making these early Fritos® in the kitchen of their home at 1416 Roosevelt Avenue. During the day, Elmer searched for high-quality corn, hand-washing it and grinding it. At night, after the family would hand-roll, thin, and deep-fry the dough made from that corn, they would pack it in five-cent bags, which Elmer would go sell throughout San Antonio the following day. The family could produce approximately ten pounds of Fritos® in an hour...

It is said, Earl Doolin the brother of Charles, converted a potato ricer to initially produce the tortilla shaped dough that would become the Fritos® chip. I did a quick search at google patents and it appears he did come up with a few later inventions which helped the manufacturing of Fritos® . I’ve decided to delve into those inventions at a later date. I’d much rather share a 1946 Fritos® souvenir booklet from the Texas State Fair with you.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Monday, April 13, 2009 • Permalink