Arch West

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Archibald Clark "Arch" West (September 8, 1914 – September 20, 2011) was an American marketing executive credited with the development of Doritos, a brand of seasoned tortilla chips.[1][2][3][4] The successful snack food was marketed as an alternative to the more traditional potato chips.[1] Doritos are now Frito-Lay's second best-selling item, bested only by Lay's Potato Chips.[1] An estimated five billion dollars in Doritos are sold every year worldwide.[1]

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

West was born on September 8, 1914, in Indianapolis, Indiana.[1] His parents, James and Jessie West, were immigrants from Scotland.[4] West and his brother were raised at a Masonic home because his mother was too impoverished to care for them.[4]

He received a bachelor's degree in business from Franklin College in Indiana in 1936.[1] West then served in the United States Navy in the Pacific theater during World War II as a gunnery officer.[1][4]

Career[edit]

He began his career at Standard Brands, where he worked as a traveling sales representative.[4] West then switched careers to advertising, based in New York City.[4] His early portfolio included the Jell-O ad campaign.[3][4]

Arch West joined the staff of the Frito Company, now called Frito-Lay, in 1960.[1] (Pepsi acquired Frito-Lay in 1965.)[4] West is widely credited for the invention and development of one of the company's signature products, Doritos.[1] According to West's daughter, Jana Hacker, West first envisioned the idea of Doritos in the early 1960s while working as Frito's vice president of marketing.[1] West was vacationing with his family in San Diego, California, in 1961, when he noticed customers at a small, roadside restaurant eating corn chips that had been deep fried.[1][2][3] West reportedly enjoyed the taste of this type of snack food.

Almost simultaneously, Frito merged with the H.W. Lay Company in 1961.[4] West pitched the idea for Doritos soon after. His colleagues at Frito-Lay were initially not enthusiastic about his idea for a snack food made from tortilla chips.[2] However, West conducted market research and development which revealed a potential market for his proposed snack.[2][3] The company produced the first Doritos chips in 1964.[1] West developed the snack as a square-shaped, crispy tortilla chip flavored with chilli and cheese.[1] The first flavors of Doritos were corn and taco and an early television commercial called Doritos "a swinging, Latin sort of snack."[3][4] Author Andrew F. Smith noted West's contributions to Doritos in his 2006 book, Encyclopedia of Junk Food and Fast Food.[1]

West also had a hand in the marketing of Pace salsas and picante sauces.[4] He was a longtime friend of Dave Pace, the founder of Pace Foods. West suggested that Pace's products be displayed on the same grocery aisle as the chips, rather than with ketchup.[4] The move quickly increased sales of Pace products.[4]

West retired from his position as vice president of marketing at Frito-Lay in 1971.[4]

Later life[edit]

West was injured in a car accident while volunteering for disaster relief in Amarillo, Texas, circa 1990, but recovered from his injuries.[3] His car was hit by a tanker truck in the accident.[3]

Arch West died from peritonitis and complications from vascular surgery at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas on September 20, 2011, at the age of 97.[1][4] He was a longtime resident of Dallas. He was survived by four children, Jana, Jack, Richard and Greg; twelve grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. His wife, Charlotte F. Thomson, whom he had been married to for 69 years, died in 2010.[1][4]

The Metalocalypse episode "Motherklok," was dedicated to his memory. One of the festivities they set up was a contest to see who could eat a giant Doritos chip the fastest.

In mid-2011, West tasted the newest flavor of Doritos, Late Night All Nighter Cheeseburger.[4] According to family members, West took a bite of the cheeseburger-flavored chip and spat it out.[4]

West's family sprinkled Doritos chips into his grave and over his urn at his burial on October 1, 2011.[1][2][5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Hevesi, Dennis (2011-09-28). "Arch West, Who Helped Create Doritos Corn Chips, Is Dead at 97". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Doritos creator dies in Dallas at 97". Associated Press (Houston Chronicle). 2011-09-26. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Daubs, Katie (2011-09-27). "No cheesy farewell for Doritos creator". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Rees Shapiro, T. (2011-09-26). "Arch West, 97, invented Doritos for Frito-Lay". Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  5. ^ Dean, Irv (2011-10-03). "A snack icon's appropriate send-off". The Daily Gazette. Retrieved 2011-10-13.