Posts Tagged With: Fritos

64/365: National Cheese Doodle Day*

Orange you glad we chose to celebrate cheese doodles today, rather than Absinthe? (Actually, I have to confess to a curiosity about the “Green Fairy.” Absinthe was banned in many areas of the world up until recently. I almost bought a bottle, but I despise black licorice (it supposedly tastes like anise or fennel) and so we decided, instead, to honor National Cheese Doodle Day).

Which, in itself, almost proved a challenge. There are cheese doodles and there are Cheez Doodles, a brand of cheese doodles. Confused yet? Cheez Doodles, the brand, are manufactured by Wise and available on the East Coast, but tough to find out West. Believe me, I tried. One of my trusted research sites said, “Common brands in the United States include Cheetos, Cheez Doodles, and Chee-Wees. They are called by something else in other parts of the world.” Since it’s cheeSE doodle day and not cheeZ doodle day, we were able to get away with eating Cheetos, which are fortunately easy to find out here.

I’m not sure if the fact that there are dueling brands of cheese doodles means “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” or is a testatment to the collapse of western civilization as we know it. Nothing in Nature is that orange – not even oranges! Neon color aside, cheese doodles are pretty damn irresistible. They are made from puffed corn (and heaps o’ orange dye) and have been around since the 1930s. Two people claim to have invented cheese doodles. One is Edward Wilson, whose Flakall Corporation in Wisconsin manufactured animal feed but one day decided to deep-fry, salt, and add cheese to a batch of the puffed corn made by their machines. He applied for a patent in 1939 and named his creation Korn Kurls. The Elmer Candy Corporation of New Orleans claims to have invented the same product in 1936. Sales manager Morel Elmer held a contest to name the new snack, and the winning entry was CheeWees (still manufactured today by Elmer’s Fine Foods). In the battle between Cheetos and Cheez Doodles, Cheetos debuted first (in 1948) and were invented by the same guy who pioneered Fritos, Charles Elmer Doolin. Cheez Doodles followed a few years later, developed by Morrie Yohai of the Bronx.

It wasn’t real tough to honor cheese doodles. Tara and I both had a handful with lunch. Good stuff, and our fingers were a luminescent shade of day-glo orange for hours afterwards! Or would have been, if we hadn’t licked them clean afterwards. Let’s face it, that’s the best part about eating cheese doodles, right?

Cheese Doodles

Categories: Snacks | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

55/365: National Tortilla Chip Day

The only food holiday today is, thankfully, devoted to humans. February 24 is National Tortilla Chip Day. Viva la celebracion!

People often use the terms “corn chips” and “tortilla chips” interchangeably, but as I explained during National Corn Chip Day last month, there is a difference: though both are made from corn, tortilla chips go through a process called nixtamalization, in which they are soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution such as quicklime, making them thinner and crispier. This process was first developed by the ancient Aztecs and, while I could go into a long and scientific explanation over how it is crucial in converting bound niacin to free niacin and preventing a vitamin deficiency disease called pelagra, I’d probably just scare you away from Fritos, which do not go through the same process, and I don’t want to do that because corn chips are tasty, too! Credit for the invention of tortilla chips goes to Rebecca Webb Carranza, who owned a tortilla factory with her husband in Los Angeles. Tired of the tortillas rejected by the automated tortilla manufacturing machine going to waste, she took these scraps, cut them into triangular shapes after her first choice – pentagrams – proved too controversial and her second choice, octagons, too complicated. She fried them up and sold them for ten cents a bag. In 1994, Carranza received the prestigious Golden Tortilla Award for her contribution to the Mexican food industry. Just a few decades ago tortilla chips were rarely eaten, but they gained popularity in the 1970s and now are as ubiquitous in Mexican restaurants as sombreros hanging on the walls and piped-in mariachi music. They are typically served with a dip such as salsa, guacamole, or lime jello, or turned into nachos. Tortilla chips are usually made with yellow or white corn, though blue and red corn varieties also exist. Beware the green corn tortilla chips: that’s just mold, amigo. You should toss those ASAP.

For today’s celebration, Tara and I enjoyed a late afternoon snack of corn chips with salsa and queso. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Tortilla chips

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29/365: National Corn Chip Day

It’s National Corn Chip Day, so tear open a bag of Fritos and get wild! That’s what we did. Minus the “get wild” part.

Many people confuse corn chips with tortilla chips, but they are in reality quite different. Both are made from corn, but tortilla chips go through a process called nixtamalization (the corn is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution before being hulled, resulting in a milder flavor and less crunch). Think of them as being neutered, if you will. (Or don’t. You may lose your appetite). Tortilla chips are bigger and thinner, while corn chips are thick and crunchy, and taste strongly of corn. Gee, no kidding. fritos-original

In 1932, Charles Elmer Doolin owned a convenience store, but there was nothing convenient about it: the tortillas he kept stacked on the shelves kept spoiling. It was the height of the Depression, and Doolin could ill afford to let his food go to waste. He met a guy from San Antonio who was selling fried corn chips, and offered him $100 for the recipe; his mother, Daisy, pawned her wedding ring to come up with the cash. C.E. (as he was called) got to work, experimenting with different varieties of corn until he found the perfect strand – a type of corn he grew himself. Daisy loved to whip up new recipes for the corn chips, and one day tossed a handful into a pot of chili, creating the Fritos Chili Pie, which is pretty much the National Dish of Rednecks everywhere. Doolin went on to form The Frito Company and other inventions followed, including Cheetos in 1948. In 1961, he merged with H.W. Lay & Company, and Frito-Lay has been a powerhouse in the snacking industry ever since.

I love Fritos and bean dip, but somebody isn’t a fan of beans around here. Cheese dip is good, but too obvious. And we don’t skin our own squirrels for breakfast, so Chili Pie was out. I happen to have an excellent recipe for a Fritos Corn Salad that I got from somebody I used to work with. She would make this for office potlucks, and it was always a big hit – the one item that disappeared faster than anything else (even cocktail wienies!) and people were always wanting the recipe for. Tara was skeptical – a lot of people are, I guess given what seems like an odd combination of ingredients – but it’s really, really good. Trust me. I made it for a family function a couple of years ago, and my aunt demanded the recipe. Now she makes it any time she’s got a potluck, and people hit her up for the recipe. It’s the circle of life, I tell you.

Frito Corn Salad
2 cans of corn (well drained)
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 cup diced green pepper
1 cup mayonnaise
1 bag Chili Cheese Fritos

Simply mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, adding the Fritos right before serving. The Chili Cheese work best, but you could substitute regular if you’re afraid of a little kick (it’s pretty mild, actually).

I made it tonight to go along with hot dogs, and of course it was a big hit. Even Tara liked it!
Frito Corn Salad
Categories: Snacks | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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