I guess you’d say I’m a member of Generation X, but before I wore flannel, I ate Doritos. Lots of ’em. Cheetos too. Sometimes Pringles. Cheese Nips for sure. I’m much more partial to the fancy potato chips you get these days, but if pressed back in my youth, I’d go for those greasy Lay’s or Wise Ridges. When I stop and think about it, I’d even say that if I belong to any generalized peer group, it’d be the Snack Generation.
So I was really kinda bummed this week (sorry, that’s a very Gen-X type of non-committal sentence) when the big news about Frito-Lay marketing executive Arch West’s death was noted not so much because he is credited with creating the Dorito — is there even a singular? — but because the family told a Dallas Morning News reporter that they’d toss “Doritos chips in before they put the dirt over the urn.”
Doritos aren’t a novelty to me. They’re part of my earliest food memories, and while I’ve grown older and wiser and I try to stay away from processed foods as much as possible now, I am glad that there’s something that reminds me of my past in such a relatively innocent way.
Doritos weren’t always this brand platform with endless extensions (I loved when nacho cheese came out, and I wasn’t totally mad at cool ranch, but spicy sweet chili? What is that?!) and expensive Super Bowl commercials (albeit with very hot girls). A story about Doritos’ creator dying 20 years ago might have run a few column inches in an obituary; now it’s a blurb on The Huffington Post that has been shared on facebook 1,600-plus times and tweeted by 120. In other words, to me, Doritos are a product of a simpler time, created just before The Beatles became huge and not completely over-exploited until Nirvana was gone.
I wish that Arch West wasn’t exploited in his death, because while it’s kinda sorta funny that his family will toss some memorial Doritos into the earth when his soul leaves the building, he made something that, for a time, had a real impact. He may have some chips thrown in with him, but we’ll always have the faux-orange smudges on our memories, at least those of us who, at one time in our lives, could bite into a Dorito, and, for just a moment, there would be no adolescent angst or anything upsetting. With a crunch, everything would be all right with the world.