I've stumbled upon another book written by a Texas author and released recently. Kaleta Doolin's Fritos Pie came out late this summer, and I've just finished plowing through the copy that landed on my desk. The short paperback chronicles the genesis of the popular corn chip that subsequently gave birth to hundreds of recipes.
Doolin cites World War II as a driver for many of those recipes. As the nation's men went off to fight, their women were left to take over their jobs, while still maintaining their domestic responsibilities. Suddenly, short cuts in the kitchen were a god send, and recipes calling for per-packaged chips, canned soups, and wieners filled the kitchens of America. This process changed how we cook forever, kicking off a trend that Alice Waters, Mark Bittman and other food revolutionaries have worked tirelessly to reverse.
Even if recipes that call for a 15 ounce can of Van Camps Pork and Beans aren't your thing the book is a decent read, with lots of retro pictures and advertisements that have a kitschy appeal.
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My favorite (on page 22) is a reprint of a poster promoting a recording made by the Fritos marketing department in the 60s. The record features "Dallas My Home Town" and adds "The Frito Twist" to the B-side. You could get a copy of the record for 25 cents if you mailed in an empty bag of Fritos. Now you can get it on Ebay for ten bucks.