The Austin Chronicle

Food for Thought: Summer Reading

Reviewed by MM Pack, June 1, 2012, Food

Fritos® Pie: Stories, Recipes, and More

by Kaleta Doolin (Texas A&M University Press, $22, 224 pp)

You may have heard that Kellogg's Corn Flakes were developed as a health food, but did you know the same was true for Fritos? Or that a Casa de Fritos was once a restaurant serving "authentic Mexican food" at Disney­land? These gems, and other surprises are explained in Fritos Pie, written by the daughter of Elmer Doolin – inventor, entrepreneur, farmer and rancher, corn hybridizer, vegetarian, and energetic founder of the company that evolved into the Frito-Lay empire.

In 1932, Doolin was the proprietor of a bakery in San Antonio. For $100, he bought the corn chip recipe from a man named Gustavo Olguin, along with the custom potato ricer modified to hand-extrude thin ribbons of corn masa. Doolin named the product Fritos, patented the name and process, and got very serious with production and marketing. Originally Fritos were supposed to be a tasty, healthful ingredient, not a snack food; Dool­in's mother, Daisy Dean Doolin, developed the first recipe: Fritos Fruitcake. Recipes were printed on the Fritos' 5-cent bags, and "Cooking With Fritos" was a wildly successful ad campaign (Fritos Fruit Salad Mold, anyone? Fritos Carrot Casserole?).

In addition to the story of Fritos (and Cheet­os, Doritos, and the short-lived Munchos), the book contains lots of family history and photos, interviews with early employees, gorgeous early marketing illustrations, and a mind-boggling 160 recipes that contain Fritos. While it's a gold mine of information, the book's organization can be confusing. Luckily, there are time lines, recipe lists, and a thorough index to help guide the reader through the maze.

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