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By January 1978, Frito-Lay's product development group led by Jack Liczkowski had completed development of Tostitos. The chips were round, made of white corn and had an authentic "Mexican" flavor. Part of achieving this authenticity occurred after research discovered that Mexicans, after cooking corn with inorganic lime, did not rinse the corn completely and so the resulting stone-ground corn masa has a higher content of lime and lower pH. When frying the formed chips, calcium hydroxide reacts with oil and gives this specific taste.
After successful test marketing in 1979, Tostitos Traditional Flavor and Tostitos Nacho Cheese Flavor went into national distribution in 1980 in the United States and reached sales of $140 million, making it one of the most successful new product introductions in Frito-Lay history. The chips are often eaten with a dip like salsa or nacho cheese, both of which the company also produces.
There are many varieties of Tostitos chips:
- Tostitos Gold (and bite size Gold) - a thicker and larger version of the original, advertised to hold the thickest of dips; the bite size chips are smaller. Initially very popular, this variety has been quietly discontinued.
- Tostitos Hint of Jalapeño - a version with jalapeño pepper flavoring added.
- Tostitos Hint of Lime - a version with lime flavoring added.
- Tostitos Hint of Pepper Jack - a version with pepper jack cheese flavoring added.
- Tostitos Spicy Quesadilla - artificial cheese and other spicy flavors added.
- Tostitos Multigrain - made with whole wheats and grains.
- Tostitos Flour Tortilla - made with flour (instead of just corn) for a milder flavor for dipping with a broader range of dips beyond Mexican-style dips (salsa, queso/cheese dip, etc.).
- Tostitos Restaurant Style - A much larger triangular style chip, similar to what is used in traditional Mexican-style restaurants. Also available in Light, advertised to be made with olestra, reducing fat and calories.
- Tostitos Scoops - a tortilla chip molded into the shape of a bowl that allows for easier scooping of salsas and dips. Also available in Baked, advertised to have half the fat of normal tostitos scoops. Recently released "Hint Of Jalapeño".
- Tostitos Natural (or "Simply Tostitos") - an organic tortilla chip that advertises "no artificial ingredients". Available in blue corn and yellow corn.
- Tostitos Rounds (and bite size Rounds) - made to be flat and cut in a circle; the bite size chips are smaller.
- Tostitos Rolls - introduced this party staple, a corn tortilla chip, and tube-like shape and hearty crunch.
- Tostitos Cantina - introduced in 2012, a style of restaurant-inspired chips that targets the Millennial generation. There are several varieties of Cantina chips, including Cantina Thin & Crispy, and Cantina Traditional.
Some Frito-Lay brand seasoned products, including some flavors of Tostitos, contain pork enzymes in addition to herbs, cheese and other seasonings. Frito-Lay's web site states that they use enzymes from pigs (porcine enzymes) in some of their seasoned snack products to develop 'unique flavors'. The presence of pig-derived ingredients makes them unsuitable for vegetarians, vegans, as well as non-kosher (sinful for observant Jews to eat), and non-halal, or haraam (sinful for observant Muslims to eat).
Starting in 1995, Tostitos became the title sponsor of the Fiesta Bowl, one of the four American college football games that make up the Bowl Championship Series, the unofficial national championship of the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A). The game was played at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona through 2006 before moving to University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona in 2007.
Following the 2006 season, Tostitos was the title sponsor for the BCS National Championship Game, a new game matching the number one and two teams in the final BCS standings. The title sponsor for the championship game rotates depending upon which site is hosting the 1 vs. 2 matchup.
On June 9, 2014, Frito-Lay withdrew their sponsorship of the Fiesta Bowl citing the higher costs of sponsoring the event through the new College Football Playoff system.
- "USATODAY.com - Buyers seek hard-to-find Tostitos Gold". USAToday.com. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
- "Snacks". FritoLay.com. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
- Goodguide.com Archived July 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- Ziobro, Paul (December 12, 2012). "Tostitos Cantina Chip trys to lure millenials [sic]". MarketWatch. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
- "Nutrition". FritoLay.com. Retrieved May 2, 2015.
- "Discover, Tostitos to end bowl title deals". sportsbusinessdaily.com. Retrieved 29 April 2015.