Navy officer and Doritos inventor dies


Arch West, 97-year-old former naval officer who invented Doritos, died on Sept. 20. // theimpulsivebuy via Flickr

The idea for Doritos tortilla chips, which brought about a sea change in snacking and became a top seller for Frito-Lay, came from the mind of former Navy man Arch West, who died of natural causes on Sept. 20. He was 97. West joined the Navy in 1943 and served as a gunnery officer onboard destroyer escort Holt in the Pacific during World War II, according to The Dallas Morning News.

A chance encounter on a family vacation inspired West to mass-market tortilla chips, according to The Washington Post:

“He was on a family vacation in Southern California in 1964 when he first bought a grease-smeared bag of toasted tortillas at a roadside shack.

As marketing vice president at Frito-Lay, Mr. West immediately sensed he had stumbled upon a snacking phenomenon.

When he returned to work, Mr. West pitched his idea: a crispy, triangle-shaped corn chip that would complement the company’s lighter Lay’s potato chip and the thicker, curly Frito.”

The Washington Post also published a photo of West from his Navy days.

Doritos are now the chips of choice for millions around the world. They come in 21 flavors, from old stand-bys like Cool Ranch and Nacho Cheese to more extreme offerings like Blazin’ Jalapeno and All Nighter Cheeseburger. Global sales of Doritos were nearly $5 billion in 2010, a Frito-Lay spokeswoman told the Post.

Family members plan on tossing Doritos chips at his Oct. 1 burial so that West can face the ages with his addictive creation on-hand.


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