I'd just walked into my local 7-Eleven to pick up a six-pack of beer. While walking back from the cooler, I saw a round and wobbling man standing in front of the cheese and chili dispenser. He had One hand on the chili dispensing button. The other was cupped below it. "Well this is going to be good," I thought.
Thankfully, the guy wasn't trying to eat processed meat out of his palm. He was squirting chili into an opened bag of Fritos.
I leaned in, probably a bit too close for two drunk strangers in a convenience store, and asked him what he was up to. "Oh man, you've never seen this?" He asked. And I hadn't, at least not quite like this. So I asked him what he called it, but he had no clue. "I don't know, but if you've had some beers... this shit is delicious," he mumbled.
My plastered friend might not have had a name for his creation -- but I did. That was Frito pie. And I got right to work building my own.
Fritos pie is nothing new. The dish was popular enough to lend it's name to Kaleta Doolin's book about Fritos corn chips. I ate a fancy version made with venison chili when reviewing Tillman's Road House but that was in a bowl. I asked my friends on Twitter and Facebook, and they said that bagged-Fritos pie was a staple at high school football games back in the day. Another said you could get it at the state fair. But I'm smitten that you can have Fritos pie any time you like at tens of thousands of 7-Eleven locations around the country.
I grabbed a bag myself, carefully opened the top, and rolled back the foil a little to get better access to the chips. Pros pull out scissors and cut the bag along the side for better access, but I'm no pro. 7-Eleven doesn't have any scissors laying around, anyway.
I started with a healthy dose of chili (watch out: it's hot and you can burn your hand through the bag) then inundated the bag with processed cheese. I topped the mess off with some salsa, ten or so pickled jalapeno slices, and then a packet and a half of yellow mustard.
Out front, with a plastic spoon, a six pack of Tecate dutifully sat by my side, I enjoyed the fruits of my labor. A few seconds later a white car pulled up with its windows rolled down. ""Dude, did you really just make a custom Frito Pie?" The driver asked, his eyes pink and sleepy. "I did," I told him and then asked him how he recognized the snack. "Man, I used to make that shit all the time back in high school," he told me, and then held up his hand for a high five.
I indulged the gesture, and then got back to the task at hand. I wish I had known about this in high school.