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Dear Matt:

Did Doritos ever have a sour cream and onion flavor? I could swear they had them when I was a kid, green bag and all, but my friends say it never existed. Please tell me this isn't just a distorted memory of my childhood.

-- Rudedog, the net

Whoa! Matthew's Adventures in Telephone Land. Tip for the week? Never, ever, ever call the Frito Lay division of PepsiCo. Though to be fair, these days, if you don't have the personal cell phone number of the particular corporate worm you want to talk to, the odds of ever talking to a real person who has real information are slim to none. The Chipville squad is fronted by one of those voice-recognition phone trees with too few branches and a severe hearing loss. But all lines end in voice mail anyway.

So we went on-line with Kelly, Chipberg's corporate automaton (she must be real, there's her picture!) who promises answers to all our questions about the Doritos family of products. "Sour cream and onion Doritos?" we asked. "Huh?" said Kelly. Though we had much better luck with, "How much gold is in Ft. Knox?" "Great question!" she enthused. Cool, we thought. Kelly's area of expertise. She referred us to PepsiCo's web guide for making nutritionally smart snacking choices. Our syntax squad is now trying to determine what magic words in our query linked "Ft. Knox" to "riboflavin" in Kelly's circuitry. On the plus side, though, if you fire off a smart comment about what at a dim bulb Kelly seems to be, she's programmed with a cute apology and a promise to improve her service.

Truth be told, we were just messing with their minds. We already knew Rudedog was right. But we wanted details, man, details, to bring the snack alive for the Dog's doubting friends. Well, somewhere along the line we must have left a message in the right phone slot because darned if we didn't get a call from Jarrod, a perfectly amiable human being in the employ of Frito Lay. He checked his encyclopedia of snacks and told us that in the earlyish-midish 1990s Doritos made a line called Doritos Thins, and one of those flavors was the lamented sour cream and onion. The whole Thins line lasted just three years ("A chip ahead of its time," Jarrod sighs); and one subsequent try to sell us sour cream-flavored Doritos (Sonic Sour Cream) also faded away. Jarrod was short on insight into marketing mysteries such as why we don't seem to like sour cream flavor on our corn chips but was full of the obligatory "fun facts," like, they make 500 million pounds of Doritos for the U.S. market every year. Whew! Just thinking about it gives me a hankerin' for a Pepsi. And calling Frito Lay is still a whole lot more crunchy and satisfying than any encounter we've ever had digging facts out of the Disney corporation.

Educating Doritos

What's the world coming to when a big, fresh, crunchy corporation like Pepsico/Frito-Lay can't keep straight what it's sold and what it hasn't. We knew Kelly wasn't going to be any help, but we sure had our money on Jarrod. Poor guy, he was duped by his own employers, who seem to have very short memories. Well, I guess a failed product doesn't have the same magic as the current best seller. So when I got two emails from irate Doritos fans, I felt compelled to reveal Jared and Frito-Lay as liars, liars, chips on fire.

This is about the question from Rudedog, who asked you about the Sour Cream and Onion Doritos. He was correct. Doritos had a sour cream and onion flavor in the early 1980s on their regular triangle chip in a dark green bag. I remember specifically because my buddy Jeff ad I ate an entire bag in one sitting. This is not to be confused with Doritos Thins of the early 1990s.

-- Brian, the net

Re: the sour cream and onion Doritos story, the folks you contacted are wrong if they say the flavor only existed in the early 90s. I distinctly remember being on vacation in Illinois during the summer of 1979 with my dad and nana and seeing green bags of Sour Cream n' Onion Doritos that were NOT available in our hometown of Seattle. My dad and I loved them and often spoke of how that was the only place we'd ever seen them, and we looked in different locations that we traveled to for years afterward with no success.

Now, I'm not saying the flavor was released throughout the whole US, mind you. But I AM saying that the flavor was at least released in the Midwest in a test market. I'd bet my life on it.

-- Jessica Olson, Everett, WA

Chips and Dips

Okay, we get it. The Frito-Lay company is just plain wrong. Decades ago we heard from a nostalgic snack fan mourning the loss of Sour Cream and Onion Doritos. F-L denied any knowledge of the things, aside from a short-lived "Lite" version. Since then we've had to set up a whole file cabinet for the disgruntled emails from people who claim F-L is full of it. Hoping to end the discussion, we present here a nationwide sample. Obviously we know nothing when it comes to voting; but junk food? We're all over that. Caution: Two of the emails include the word "awesome," which understandably makes some people break out in hives. Anyone fully sick of the word is warned.

I too distinctly remember Sour Cream and Onion Doritos in a dark green bag. At the time, that was my absolute favorite snack. I graduated from high school in 1980, so I was a snacking teenager then.

-- James Smith, Brandon, Mississippi

I too remember having the Sour Cream and Onion Doritos as a kid in the '80s. They were awesome! No one here believed me either�. Cool Ranch are similar, but NOT the same!

-- Shelley, Michigan

I remember them like it was yesterday, green and white bag and all. They were awesome. I think Cool Ranch came out right around the same time, and the sour cream ones jut got buried in the hype. No one noticed their disappearance except for me :(

-- Ted, New Jersey

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