Texas Ingenuity History


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Fritos, the perfect complement to Texas chili

Take Fritos, for example. Try a handful. What better partner to Texas chili could there be? And just like that partner, its history is traced back to San Antonio.

Charles Doolin owned an ice cream store in the Alamo City during the Great Depression of the 1930s. When ice cream prices plummeted, Doolin needed a way to make more cash. He looked around for another product to sell and discarded idea after idea. One day at lunch, he saw someone eating something new called a Frito Corn Chip. He traced down the maker and liked what he found. Doolin purchased the product, "lock, stock, and barrel" for $100, borrowing some of the money from his mother. (We don't know the name of the original inventor.) With his newfound product, Doolin and his mother/partner set up a "factory" in her kitchen. The factory consisted of a single potato ricer (a device where you push potatoes or other food though small holes the width of a grain of rice), and with that gizmo, they turned out about 10 pounds of Fritos an hour.

The first Fritos sold for five cents a bag (in a brown paper bag.)

Convinced that Fritos were the start of something big, Doolin hopped into his Model T Ford and visited hundreds of cities, towns, and crossroads where he could find a grocery store or cafe.

Continues in the book...

The stories continue in the book Texas Ingenuity... For complete information on this and other Texas stories...