NATIONAL CORN CHIP DAY
January 29th is a great day to enjoy a corn chip topped with salsa or a little cheese. It is National Corn Chip Day.
The corn chip or friotes are not to be confused with the tortilla chip. Both are made from cornmeal which is baked or fried in oil.
Differing steps for processing the corn separate the tortilla from the corn chip. The corn for a tortilla chip is soaked in a lime-water solution that breaks down the hulls. This process creates a crisper, milder chip. A corn chip is sturdier with a stronger corn flavor. Both were popular snacks originating in Mexico.
There are two men credited with patenting and marketing the corn chip in the United States. First, Isador J. Filler often ate a tostada (a hard corn tortilla with toppings) while traveling in San Antonio, Texas as a salesman. He struck on the idea of making them in rectangles and marketing them as a chip. In 1932 he patented his concept.
Around the same time, Elmer Doolin was also traveling in San Antonio and was enjoying friotes. According to the story, he paid $100 for the recipe. Experimenting in his home until he created the ideal chip, Doolin then started selling them from the back of his Model T Ford. When he began mass producing them under the name of Frito Corn Chips, they were a hit.
In 1945, Doolin came to an agreement with Herman Lay (of potato chip fame) to distribute Doolin’s Fritos across the country. The two companies merged in 1959 after Doolin’s death.