Sunday, May 11, 2008
MAN OF LA MUNCHA
Last year I must’ve devoured more Fritos, um, than usual, thanks in great part to the corn chips’ special 75th Anniversary packaging with vintage character art of the Frito Kid. I mean, just look at him. How in the world could I resist?!
Looking a lot like the blonde cousin to Bob’s Big Boy and sporting a gigantic wave of hair that resembles (perhaps unintentionally) a great big Frito, to me the Frito Kid is all that and a bag of you know what.
To clarify, the Kid himself was not celebrating his 75th last year, having merely reached the salty age of 54 by 2007. After tirelessly promoting "the best corn chips made" for 14 years, the Kid was sacked in 1967 and his spokesman duties were simultaneously taken up by the controversial – though equally ADORED by me - Frito Bandito (voiced hysterically on TV spots by Mel Blanc.)
But the name “Frito Kid” would hardly pass our hydrogenated oil-slicked lips today had he not managed to corral himself into a little patch of Walt Disney’s theme park heaven.
The first Casa de Fritos location opened on August 19th, 1955 next door to Aunt Jemima's Pancake House. The Frito Kid chip-dispensing machine stood just inside the door as you walked to the counter, and was not visible from outside, which explains why photos are scarce.
Here's how it worked. Put a nickel in the cash box on the fence, and the Frito Kid came to life. While rolling his eyes, licking his lips, and turning his head, he'd holler back to his unseen partner Klondike inside the mountain to send down some more of those "golden chips of corn," and before you knew it, a wax-paper bag of dee-licious Fritos came sliding out right down the chute.
Always heard but never seen, Klondike remains a mystery. What did he look like anyway? I picture him the Yukon Cornelius-type, while Jody likes to imagine Klondike was a friendly chip-mining bear!
In the 1967 publicity photo below, the Frito Kid is shown whooping it up with the Golden Horsehoe cast. Klondike is nowhere to be seen, naturally, as a bear has no place inside a saloon.
"You always expect to find FRITOS, “America’s Favorite Corn Chips,” where there’s GOOD EATING, FUN and EXCITEMENT! Sure enough, you’ll find them in Disneyland, too, along with other delicious food products."
VISIT “FRITO HOUSE” IN FRONTIERLAND
"Enjoy “Fritos” with savory Mexican foods…chili, tamales, and a brand new taste treat “Ta-Cups.” See the “Frito Kid” in action amid a gala atmosphere of authentic “Old Mexico.”
I know you'll forgive the redness with a real rarity such as the next photo. When Casa de Fritos moved to a bigger location on July 1, 1957 (to the one-story adobe structure which became Casa Mexicana - and currently Rancho del Zocalo) the chip dispensing machine was relocated to a fenced-in area just outside the entrance.
You can see the Golden Chips Mine and mountain were completely redesigned, and the Kid has been moved to the left of the chute.
And now, here's a bit of Frito Kid trivia I'll bet you didn't know, and probably won't forget:
According to a 1955 premium Frito Comic Book, the Frito Kid has a horse.
And his horse's name is Maize!
(You call it corn.)