The Quirky Item The Founder Of Doritos Was Reportedly Buried With

According to Wired, Arch West, the creator of Doritos, died of natural causes on September 20, 2011, at 97 years old — and, reportedly, had an interesting final request.

West's daughter, Jana Hacker, has discussed her father's inspiration for Doritos chips during his time as the Frito-Lay Marketing Vice President in the 1960s. At a time when most chips were plain, West was determined to introduce a Mexican-American style chili-cheese-flavored corn chip to the market. There were no other tortilla chip snacks being sold by a major brand in the United States at the time. Reuters reports that Frito-Lay was not fans of the idea at first. But West pushed for research and development into the product, and spent his career tweaking the Doritos recipe and marketing to become the unmistakable orange chip we know today.

Although Frito-Lay doesn't officially credit West with the creation of the Doritos snack food according to The New York Times, he was the driving force behind it. And interestingly, there are two origin stories about the Doritos creation that have become the legend of the chip brand.

Conflicting origin stories

In the first origin story of Doritos, the West family ate at "a little shack restaurant where these people were making a fried corn chip," while on a trip to San Diego (via The New York Times). West was inspired by the interesting flavor, and returned from the trip with a new snack food idea.

Here's the second story: According to Consumer Reports, the original Doritos chips were made at Casa de Fritos, now called Rancho Del Zocalo, which was owned by the Frito-Lay company. The restaurant was found inside Disneyland, in Anaheim, California. Cooks were experimenting with frying up leftover tortillas and adding a blend of seasonings to it. This way, Casa de Fritos wouldn't have to throw out stale tortillas – and people loved the fried treat. During a visit to Disneyland, West saw that large crowds were drawn to the snack, and knew he had stumbled upon something special.

Regardless of how exactly Doritos started out, once Arch West got a hold of the idea, he was determined to figure out the ideal tortilla chip for the American consumer. In 1964, West partnered with Alex Foods, who made the soft tortillas that Casa de Fritos later fried. But the small tortilla producer was quickly overwhelmed by the huge demand, so Frito-Lay opened its own manufacturing plants, and Alex Foods later created their own tortilla chips.

Changing up the recipe

Doritos hit the market in California in 1964, but market research showed that customers thought the snack was too plain, according to Taste of Home. West tweaked the recipe, adding Romano cheese and spices like garlic powder and salt, and by 1966 Doritos had gained nationwide popularity (per Reuters).

Market research in 1994 led to Doritos undergoing major changes to the recipe and the marketing strategy. According to Taste of Home, Doritos were made thinner and longer. They used to have sharp edges, but this was unpopular with consumers, and it made the chips more likely to break in their bags. Frito-Lay made the edges rounded instead. And they added more of the signature "orange dust" seasoning that Doritos are known for today.

Frito-Lay continually introduces new Doritos flavors to the market, often for a limited time, and with limited flavor ranges depending on the region. Some interesting global flavors have included Mountain Dew, Olive, Clam Chowder, and Late-Night Cheeseburger, reports Taste of Home.

Arch West's odd final request

Doritos is currently the second-best-selling product from the Frito-Lay brand, with Lays Potato Chips taking the first-place spot (via The New York Times.) According to research by Statista in 2020, more than 6 million Americans admitted to eating eight or more bags that year. Relatable.

Since West introduced the original Nacho-Cheese-flavored Doritos flavor, the company has created over 100 varieties. According to the Doritos website, some of their most recent flavors that are currently on the market are Flamin' Hot Limon, 3D Chili Cheese Nacho, and Organic Spicy White Cheddar.

As Wired reported, Arch West requested to be buried with Doritos, the snack he created and marketed. Attendees at the funeral were asked to toss a Doritos chip into West's grave at the end of the ceremony. According to The New York Times, West is survived by his four children, 12 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. At a cemetery in Dallas, Texas, his ashes were buried in the same plot as Charlotte Thomson, his wife of 69 years.

As reported by Reuters, his daughter Jana Hacker was a big fan of her father's quirky final wishes. "He would think it is hilarious. The cemetery does not mind because they are biodegradable," she said. She told Reuters that her father's favorite Doritos flavors were Toasted Corn Chips and Cool Ranch — and that West snacked on them even through his last days.