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The Frito Bandito was the cartoon mascot for Fritos corn chips from 1967 to 1971. The Bandito was created by the Foote, Cone & Belding Agency, and animated by Tex Avery. The character was voiced by Mel Blanc, who used an exaggerated Mexican accent not unlike another character of his, Speedy Gonzales. The Frito Bandito spoke broken English and robbed people of their Fritos corn chips, a reference to the “Mexican bandit” stereotype in western movies. He also complained that he was being pursued by the “Frito Bureau of Investigation."
Pressure from the National Mexican-American Anti-Defamation Committee and others prompted an update to the character; his gold tooth and stubble were eliminated and his hair combed. The character was completely retired in 1971. He was initially replaced by the Muncha Bunch, a group of cowboys, which then were replaced by W.C. Fritos, modeled after comedian W.C. Fields.
The Frito Bandito campaign included a song sung to the tune of the well-known traditional Mexican song "Cielito Lindo":
Later ads used an alternate verse:
In popular culture
The Baldo comic strip introduced a temporary character named Hidalgo in the week starting on September 30, 2013. Hidalgo is supposed to be the actor who played the Frito Bandito in years gone by, and the arc deals with the reason why the commercials were discontinued. Hidalgo looks identical to the Frito Bandito, except he was drawn with gray hair as a reference to his aging in more than 40 years.
- OnTheMedia.org, April 27, 2007
- Don Markstein's Toonopedia: Frito Bandito
- Baldo comic strip, September 30, 2013 at GoComics.com Retrieved 2013-10-03
- Baldo comic strip, October 2, 2013 at GoComics.com Retrieved 2013-10-03
- TV Acres info about Frito Bandito
- POV Online: "News from Me" (column by Mark Evanier), January 29, 2008