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Homemade Fritos

Homemade Fritos

I noticed that January 29th is National Corn Chip day (this is the kind of thing I notice) and it got me thinking, where in the world did corn chips come from in the first place? I found the answer on NPR in a segment called The Birth of the Frito. And you know what? The history of Fritos is great! To make a long story short, a 1930s corn-loving confectionery owner in Texas, Charles Elmer Doolin, was looking for a savory snack to serve, when he came across a man making a beach food staple from Mexico called fritos, “little fried things.” He perfected the recipe for the extruded and fried corn chips made from masa and began selling them in little bags. Doolin was an innovator and soon started mass-producing the chips, he eventually went national.

The ironic part is that Doolin, essentially the founder of convenience snack food, was a close follower of Dr. Herbert Shelton–a prominent American health educator, pacifist, vegetarian, and advocate of raw-foodism and fasting cures. The father of Fritos ate no meat, no fat, and no salt–he was a hard-core health food fanatic. Doolin envisioned Fritos as a side dish–a handful with a bowl of soup or salad. They are certainly not the worst offenders in the snack food category–they are vegan, in fact, and are comprised of only whole ground corn, corn oil and salt. But I just can’t imagine what Doolin would think to see a Big Grab bag of Fritos washed down with a 64-ounce Super Big Gulp of soda.

So, in honor of C.E. Doolin and National Corn Chip Day, here is a recipe for a homemade version of Fritos. (And to the Fritos fanatics trying this, please don’t be mad at me if these don’t look and taste exactly like fresh-from-the-bag Fritos; because they don’t. But…they’re homemade, and warm, and great in an almost-Fritos kind of way.)

1/2 cup organic stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon canola oil

1. Preheat oven to 375F degrees.

2. Combine cornmeal and salt in a mixing bowl. Pour in boiling water and stir, add olive oil, and stir until well blended.

3. Drop mixture by small teaspoonfuls onto a (very) well-greased baking sheet and smooth out as thinly as possible. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.

Makes approximately 2 dozen chips.

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


+ add your own
9:43PM PDT on Aug 23, 2011

Amazing! Thanks for the great recipe. Love it.

8:53PM PDT on Jun 30, 2010

thank you, thank you for this wonderful little recipe. the 1st time i tried it they didnt cook right because i didn't have them thin or even enough. i tried again and used a [cake decorating] piping bag w/ the flat tip. they looked alot like fritos, and they tasted delicious--i added a little fresh ground black pepper. i had doubled it, but they were gone in 5 min--the kids say next time i have to quad it--and i'm going to try adding a little paprika. this one is a true keeper!!

2:40PM PDT on Apr 27, 2010

oh wow! thanks!

8:22AM PDT on Apr 24, 2010

thanks for this

8:23AM PDT on Apr 18, 2010


1:05PM PDT on Apr 10, 2010

I can't wait to try this recipe. Thanks for posting

1:27PM PDT on Mar 29, 2010

OMG I really want to try this!!

5:11PM PDT on Mar 16, 2010

I tried to make them but I failed. They came our too chewy, I think I did something wrong.

8:13PM PST on Mar 13, 2010

Boy does that sound good.

2:39PM PST on Mar 8, 2010


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