November 26, 2007


The allure of Frito Pie: Santa Fe folks say they invented the beloved Frito pie. To Texans, them's fightin' words. (JOYCE SÁENZ HARRIS, November 23, 2007, The Dallas Morning News

Back in 1932, a year generally regarded as the nadir of the Depression, a San Antonian named C.E. "Elmer" Doolin tasted a home-fried corn chip in a Mexican cafe. He was so intrigued by its taste that he paid $100 for the chip's recipe and the right to market it.

Not that Mr. Doolin actually had $100 cash. He borrowed the money from his mama, Daisy Dean Doolin. Mrs. Doolin must have had an unshakable faith in her son, because she gave C.E. her diamond wedding ring to pawn for that $100 loan.

What's more, she let him set up shop in her kitchen and mix batch after batch of corn dough, which was shaped into strips by extruding the dough through a converted potato ricer. And she fried innumerable strips of ground corn in hot vegetable oil while C.E. and his brother, Earl, experimented with perfecting the chips. One can only imagine how many hours she must have spent scrubbing oil splatters from the walls and floor.

Mrs. Doolin's forbearance paid off. Thus was born the Frito (after the Spanish word for fried), an enormously successful snack product that celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.

But Mrs. Doolin took her sons' product one crucial step further.

According to corporate lore, Daisy Doolin invented the immortal Frito pie not long after her boys created Fritos.

Early on, says her granddaughter, Kaleta Doolin of Dallas, Daisy helped market Fritos by developing recipes that used the corn chips as an ingredient. In a burst of genius, she was inspired to pour chili over Fritos corn chips, and the rest is history.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 26, 2007 6:54 AM
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