Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I'd like to thank a few people.

Arch West died last week. He was ninety-seven.

If we were to play twenty questions, there's a decent chance you'd go oh for twenty in exhuming the treasure for which Mr. West is responsible.

A little back story: West and his family, on a trip to Mexico during the Sixties, became enamored with the snack shacks which populated towns and villages along their route. They returned time and again to sample the salty, fried tortilla chips which were offered at low cost and large quantity.

Arch, who worked for Frito Lay, ultimately yanked the chain to the highly awesome idea section of his frontal lobe...and the Dorito was born.

If I were to tally the amount of lifetime calories I've consumed of every food type, tortilla chips would fall somewhere between all the Baskin-Robbins I've ever eaten and that night at Winchell's Donuts after the Loverboy show.

I have indeed eaten me some chips. And Doritos were the first.

Before nachos occupied every menu from Red Robin to the Target Snack Bar, Nacho Cheese Doritos were serving a second term as Mayor of Snackland. That bright orange powder which coated every savory triangle would slowly accumulate on your fingertips, solidifying into a mealy paste which streaked the thighs of your Levi's.

You had to wipe them somewhere.

Doritos even forced an emergency trip to my dentist in 1976, when a sharp fragment wedged itself between my molar and gum, forming an abscess. The guy poked and prodded and plunged, finally prying loose the puss-engulfed shrapnel.

He proudly displayed his find, now impaled on the tip of his tool, prior to raking it off on my apron.

Twenty-three million chips later, I have fortunately not relived that incident, and I realize that popular snacks like Doritos...every one of them...are the result of somebody's passion and ingenuity.

Today, I want to thank a few people.

Thank you, H.B. Reese, former dairy farmer and shipping foreman for Milton S. Hershey (doesn't the name "Hershey" just make your mouth water? It's like having "Smothered-in-Cheese" for a last name). In 1928, Mr. Reese, using Hershey's chocolate, invented the peanut butter cup in his basement and unknowingly created a confection that usually doesn't last through the first movie trailer.

Thanks to the Curtiss Candy Company, inventor of the Butterfinger in 1923. My love for you knows no bounds, even the cost of industrial mining equipment to pry loose the peanut butter-flavored cement which has chemically bonded with the valleys of my bicuspids.

And thank you, National Biscuit Company, aka Nabisco, for brainstorming the Oreo way back in 1912. Oreos and milk are divinely inspired, falling just short of Dr. Phil and Robin in cosmic compatibility.
So many more folks to thank, but I'm sure they're not around anymore. There's Baby Ruth (1921), Milk Duds (1926), Kit Kat (1935) and Cheetos (1948). And I'd surely be remiss for not mentioning the Hostess dynasty.
Oh, and before I forget, here's to you Edward Knabusch and Edwin Shoemaker. Although you weren't food visionaries, if it weren't for what you two came up with back in 1927, none of these snacks would've been nearly as pleasurable.
Thank you, thank you, thank you...for the La-Z Boy recliner.

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