Were Doritos Really Invented at Disneyland? Here’s the Truth

by | May 1, 2024 | Disney History, Disneyland, Disneyland Parks, DLR Food

If you’re wondering whether Doritos were truly invented right in Disneyland Park back in the 1960’s, we’re sharing the full story – and the facts – below. 

Have you ever heard that Doritos were invented at Disneyland? It’s an exciting fun fact and a cool piece of trivia, but it almost sounds too far-fetched to be the truth. Those iconic Nacho Cheese (and Cool Ranch) flavored tortilla chips couldn’t have really come from a working theme park… right?

Well, Doritos have a history that’s nacho average snack origin story. Thanks to a bit of luck, a few spare tortillas (okay, a LOT of spare tortillas!), and some ingenuity, Doritos were born – and yes, they were invented at Disneyland. Here’s the scoop on how Doritos came into fruition at the Happiest Place on Earth.

From Disneyland Trash to an Iconic Snack Food: How Doritos Were Invented

In the earliest days of Disneyland Park, Walt Disney funded many of the theme park’s attractions by securing sponsorships. Sponsors included companies like General Electric, Chicken of the Sea, Stouffers, and chip giant Frito-Lay. It was a mutually beneficial setup: Companies that sponsored attractions or food locations inside Disneyland paid for the development and creation, and they got promotional perks as a result. In fact, when Disneyland first opened in 1955, every one of its food and drink spots was operated by an external company.

On August 11, 1955, just two months after the park’s grand opening, another externally-owned restaurant opened up. Frito-Lay opened Casa de Fritos, a Mexican-inspired dining spot that served dishes like enchiladas, tamales, taco salad (called “taco in a tacup” at the time), and rice and beans. It was here that Disneyland would make snack food history.

Casa de Fritos at Disneyland, restaurant exterior

The exterior of Casa de Fritos at Disneyland. Photo courtesy of The Disney Wiki

Casa de Fritos – which eventually became Casa Mexicana in 1982, then Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante in 2001 – is where Doritos were invented.

Ironically, when Casa de Fritos first opened, Fritos chips were served with the restaurant’s meals.

According to multiple sources, the Dorito’s invention happened when a salesman from Alex Foods (the main supplier for Disneyland’s restaurants back in the 1950s) visited and saw the Casa de Fritos staff throwing unused tortillas into the trash. Leftovers weren’t saved or repurposed; they were simply thrown away at the end of the day.

That salesman didn’t love the wastefulness of the practice, so he suggested an alternative: Cut the tortillas into triangles, deep-fry them, and add a little seasoning. The result was a crispy, crunch snack similar to totopos, a Zapotec Mexican snack that’s kind of like tortilla chips, but with more flavor. They were added to the Casa de Fritos menu as an alternative to the Fritos chips usually served, and they became popular… and the rest is history.

You can still visit the site at which Doritos were first invented when you visit Disneyland today. Rancho del Zocalo sits in the very same space as the original Casa de Fritos restaurant, right between Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Frontierland Shootin’ Exposition.

Were All Doritos Flavors Invented at Disneyland?

While the original Doritos were created and sold at Disneyland, their modern form (and most popular flavors) didn’t originate in the theme park. According to Maxim, a different person was responsible for taking Doritos from basic to flavorful – Arch West, Frito-Lay’s marketing vice president in the 1960s.

West noticed the popularity of the triangle-shaped chips at Casa de Fritos and made a deal with Alex Foods in 1964. Doritos were then produced locally for a few years, but by 1966, their popularity was soaring, and the chips moved into a larger, Tulsa-based production facility. In that same year, Doritos were officially unveiled nationally, and they took off. 

A year later, in 1967, the first flavored Doritos were launched: taco flavor. The chips’ iconic nacho cheese flavor came next, hitting stores in 1972. And in 1986, Cool Ranch took hold of Doritos fans everywhere.

Today, you can’t find Doritos on the menu at any of Disneyland’s restaurants. However, now that you know their history, you can enjoy a little touch of Disney every time you snack on a bag of your favorite flavor, no matter how far from the theme park you might be.

Posts by Heather Adams

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Heather is a lifelong Disney fan who grew up at Disneyland and loves spending as much time as possible in the parks. As WDW Magazine’s Content Operations Manager, Heather is a content creator and strategist with experience at a wide variety of different outlets. She’s written for publications including Clean Eating Magazine, Fatherly, The Drive, Task and Purpose, Healthversed, Nation.com, and Car Bibles. Heather also authored the book Fidget!: 101 Ways to Boost Your Creativity and Decrease Stress.
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Authored by
Heather Adams

Heather is a lifelong Disney fan who grew up at Disneyland and loves spending as much time as possible in the parks. As WDW Magazine’s Content Operations Manager, Heather is a content creator and strategist with experience at a wide variety of different outlets. She’s written for publications including Clean Eating Magazine, Fatherly, The Drive, Task and Purpose, Healthversed, Nation.com, and Car Bibles. Heather also authored the book Fidget!: 101 Ways to Boost Your Creativity and Decrease Stress.
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