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]


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. West was also a member of Kappa Delta Rho during his time at FC.[1] West then served in the United States Navy in the Pacific theater during World War II as a gunnery officer.[1][4]


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 triangle-shaped, crispy tortilla chip flavored with chilli and cheese.[1] The shape and signature orange color of the chips were inspired by West’s fraternity at Franklin, Kappa Delta Rho. 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, to whom he had been married 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]


  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.