27 September, 2011

Doritos Creator Arch West Dies at Age 97

Photo courtesy of the West family.

Arch West was a marketing vice president for Frito Lay, Inc. in 1964 when he took a family vacation to San Diego that would change the snack food industry forever.

Hungry for road munchies, the family pulled up to a roadside stand and bought a bag of tortillas which had been cut up and fried to greasy, crispy awesomeness.  Arch knew with one bite that he had stumbled upon an epic snack.

Back on the job, Arch pitched his idea to his corporate overlords:  a thin tortilla chip - heartier than the company's best-selling Lays Potato Chips, lighter than Frito's Corn Chips.  The company was skeptical, but when they agreed to do some consumer testing and found that the chips were very well-received, the new snack dubbed Doritos were introduced to California test markets in 1966.  They were so popular that Frito Lay rolled them out nationwide in 1967, and Doritos have been unstoppable ever since.

Today's Doritos are a little different than the originals.  Besides being available in a wide variety of regular flavors, Frito Lay brings out a stream of special flavors and packages every year. And in a mid-1990's revamp of the recipe, the chips were made a little thinner, a little larger, and given rounded corners.

Mr. West was born in Indianapolis in 1914 and graduated Franklin College where he was a member of the Delta Rho fraternity. He served as a Lieutenant in the US Navy during WW2 and worked in advertising on Madison Avenue in NY before being lured to Texas by the Frito Company, which offered him a vice presidency in marketing.  After retirement, he and his late wife Charlotte served as volunteers on his local FEMA's disaster relief team.  He's survived by three sons, two daughters, and eighteen grand- and great-grandchildren.  The family plans an October 1 service and burial, and daughter Jana Hacker says the family plans to sprinkle the grave with Doritos before lowering his remains to rest.

View Mr. West's obituary on legacy.com here.

Various news stories were used as sources for this post.


Michelle said...

Seriously Dave, this is why your blog is one of my all-time favorites. I just fw'd this to my husband who is a very devoted Doritos eater.
I truly feel that my childhood would not be the same without Doritos and the imposters have never been able to pull off the awesomeness of the real deal.
Thank you Mr. West for bringing such awesomeness into the world!

J. Astro said...


Anonymous said...

Unless he specifically asked to have doritos sprinkled on him please dont sprinkle doritos on him.