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Thursday, February 2, 2012

When Fritos Were Meant for the Dinner Table

Posted By on Thu, Feb 2, 2012 at 8:20 AM

Chile Pies & Ice Cream's Frito pie. - TAMARA PALMER
  • Tamara Palmer
  • Chile Pies & Ice Cream's Frito pie.

In honor of the Super Bowl, which has become an excuse for junk-food decadence unrivaled since Roman times -- we're going to eat 1.25 billion wings this Sunday! Have you heard of this thing called the meat stadium? -- this week the Smithsonian's food blog traced the history of the Frito pie, all the way back to San Antonio, Texas, in 1932, when a man named C.E. Doolin hocked his mother's wedding ring to buy a corn-chip setup from a snack seller named Gustavo Olquin.

It's odd to think of Fritos as a handmade product, but that's the equipment Doolin bought from Olquin. He soon mechanized the process and started selling fritos as "krisp tender golden bits of goodness." As his ads used to proclaim, "They're good for breakfast, lunch, snack-time and dinner." Doolin's mother developed a recipe for a Frito fruit cake, and it wasn't long before his wife came up with Frito pie. Incidentally, the Doolins were strict vegetarians who avoided salt, so they'd only eat Fritos off the assembly line.

San Franciscans who want Frito pie can stop by Da Beef, the hot dog cart on Seventh and Folsom, where they'll ladle some of the chili they use for hot dogs into a bag of Fritos; and at both the Western Addition and Castro locations of Chile Pies and Ice Cream, they honor owner Trevor Logan's New Mexican heritage by serving a proper Frito pie. You're not going to be able. So if you're planning on serving Frito pies as part of your meat stadium concessions, you're going to have to make your own.

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Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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