Doritos were created at Disneyland in an attempt to use up old tortillas that would otherwise be thrown out.
The original product was made at the Casa de Fritos at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Using surplus tortillas, the company-owned restaurant cut them up and fried them (as in traditional Mexican chips called totopos) and added basic seasoning, resembling the Mexican chilaquiles, but in this case being dry. Arch West was the Vice President of Marketing of Frito-Lay at the time, and noticed the popularity. He made a deal with Alex Foods in 1964, the provider of many items for Casa de Fritos at Disneyland, and produced the chips for a short time regionally, before it was overwhelmed by the volume, and Frito-Lay moved the production in-house to its Tulsa plant.
“Doritos” were released nationwide in 1966, the first tortilla chip to be launched nationally in the United States.
In a television special on the National Geographic Channel about Ultimate Factories, episode 5-5, it was said that Doritos is a $4 billion a year product. This made it the number one seller in corn based chips; it is the second leading seller behind Lay’s Potato Chip, another Frito Lay product.
According to Information Resources International, in 1993, Doritos earned $1.3 billion in retail sales, one-third of the total Frito-Lay sales for the year. Nevertheless, in the costliest redesign in Frito-Lay history, in 1994 the company spent $50 million to redesign Doritos to make the chips 20% larger, 15% thinner, and rounded the edges of the chip. Roger J. Berdusco, the vice president of tortilla chip marketing, said a primary reason for the change was “greater competition from restaurant-style tortilla chips, that are larger and more strongly seasoned”. The design change was the result of a two-year market research study that involved 5,000 chip eaters. The new design gave each chip rounded corners, making it easier to eat and reducing the scrape resulting from broken corners. Each chip was also given more seasoning, resulting in a stronger flavor. The improved chips were released in four flavors beginning in January 1995.
Frito-Lay eliminated trans fat from all Doritos varieties in 2002. The same year, the Doritos brand began complying with U.S. Food and Drug Administration labeling regulations, four years before the regulations became mandatory.
The company was sued in 2003 by Charles Grady, who claimed that his throat had been damaged because of eating Doritos. According to him, the shape and rigidity of the chips made them inherently dangerous. Grady attempted to admit into evidence a study by a former chemistry professor that calculated how best to safely swallow the chips. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court later ruled that the study did not meet scientific standards and could not be presented as evidence.
In 2005, Doritos sales in the United States fell by 1.7% to $595 million. To increase sales in 2006, the company launched several new flavors, a new label, and more bilingual advertising. Frito-Lay vice president Joe Ennen described this as “the most significant rebranding and relaunch in Doritos’ 38-year history”.
On February 21, 2013, the Doritos logo was changed again and is now advertised with a new slogan that reads “FOR THE BOLD.” This time it homages the original design and in a way combines it with the previous design’s element. The logo change was unannounced and can now be seen on all flavors of Doritos, though some bags of the Nacho Cheese flavor still maintain the past 2005 logo. It was officially changed on the Frito-Lay website the same day.