Pure American ingenuity. Doritos founder Arch West died last week.
Pure American ingenuity. Doritos founder Arch West died last week. Kundl /Flickr
The inventor of Doritos, Arch West, died last week. He was 97. He lived 47 years after the invention, and presumably personal consumption of, the amped-up tortilla chip.
The Wall Street Journal has an obit of the man who recreated the chips he first ate on a trip to San Diego. His career followed a fitting trajectory: The man who created the nacho cheese taste began his working life as a cheese salesman. Frito-Lay translates Doritos as "little bits of gold."
By the look of it, I agree with his stance on today's Doritos. From the Journal:
He remained proud of his big hit with Doritos, and during a recent hospital stay insisted his family bring big bags of them for the nurses to snack on.
In recent decades, Frito-Lay re-engineered Doritos, making them thinner and adding dozens of new flavors such as "Pizza Supreme" and "Scorchin' Habenaro." Mr. West wasn't enthusiastic about the changes, or the brand's recent spate of irreverent Super Bowl ads.
"He wasn't real tickled with the weirdness," his daughter said.
The story worth reading is Monica Hesse's essay on West's legacy to the American diet. She deftly notes his contribution to American obesity while recognizing our own, insatiable appetites for the unhealthy, overly seasoned gems. You can read her piece in the Washington Post here.
She wraps up her essay with what looks to be a personal testament. At least it's one I can understand:
Alone in our living rooms, after everyone else has gone to sleep, we dig the crumpled red bag out of the trash can, dip our moist finger all the way into the bottom and suck off the crumbs.
Arch West's family will toss Doritos in with the dirt when they bury his urn.
Mr. West, may heaven bring you many stained fingers, endless junk food-filled tailgates, and Monterey Jack seasoning.