The Truth About Funyuns

Funyuns are kind of the red-headed stepchild of the snack food aisle. If you were asked to name different kinds of salty snacks, potato and tortilla chips would probably be the first to come to mind, then you might recall pretzels and popcorn. Funyuns would probably come somewhere at the back of the pack, perhaps after Bugles and Combos but pulling slightly ahead of Beer Nuts and apple chips. Can you even remember the last time you ate a Funyun? Ok, how about actually bought a bag of Funyuns? And was it because they were the last snack left in the vending machine besides overpriced generic granola bars?

Poor old Funyuns, so seldom anyone's actual first choice. The thing about Funyuns, though, is if you do get ahold of a bag of them, you might be surprised to realize they're actually not half-bad. On a Thrillist list ranking 31 gas station snacks, Funyuns came in at a middle-of-the-pack #17, beating out Chex Mix and hot fries but coming in well below Pringles and Bugles, oddly enough the only other snack chips available that particular gas station. On a more comprehensive list published by, Funyuns came in #54 out of 150, with the reviewer admitting that he didn't expect to enjoy them, but he actually kind of did.

What goes into a Funyun

So what, exactly, is a Funyun? According to parent company Frito Lay, Funyuns are "a deliciously different snack that's fun to eat, with a crisp texture and zesty onion flavor." As to what gives them that zesty flavor, it seems to be a delicious-sounding combination of corn starch, sugar, corn flour, buttermilk, maltodextrin, monosodium glutamate, hydrolyzed corn protein, dextrose, garlic powder, natural flavors, and gum arabic. Oh yes, and a wee bit of onion powder, as well. The Funyuns themselves are made of enriched corn meal, vegetable oil, and salt.

Funyuns are not vegan due to the buttermilk they contain. While they are not made with gluten, No Gluten points out that the product is not certified as gluten-free and there may well be some cross-contamination from other Frito-Lay products. A serving of approximately one ounce (or 13 rings) provides 140 calories, 6 grams of fat (1 gram saturated), 19 grams of carbohydrate, and 280 mg of sodium. Eat This, Not That! has Funyuns ranked as #143 out of 164 on their list of snack chips ranked by how healthy they are.

How Funyuns are made

Funyuns, according to The Daily Meal, were the invention of a Frito-Lay employee named George Bigner and hit the store shelves in 1969. We're not sure what inspired Bigner, nor how he produced his prototype Funyun, but the ones we eat today are produced by the extrusion process. This might sound like something really painful, but it actually just means that they are mixed, shaped and cooked almost simultaneously.

To elaborate further on the fascinating process of Funyun production, How It's All Made explains that the Funyun mix is kneaded and heated in the extrusion machine which keeps it moving along as it heats up. It is then forced into a chamber with lower atmospheric pressure, something that makes the dough puff up like a popcorn kernel, at which point it's also fully cooked. The extrusion chamber gives the Funyun its ring shape, and the puff-cooking gives it its crunch. The Funyuns aren't done quite yet, though, as they are also fried since you can't have an oil-free snack chip. (Well, you can, but Funyuns are supposed to be fun, after all.) The final step is being coated with salt and onion flavoring, then they go into the bag where they wait (and wait, and wait) on the store shelf.

Only one of the new Funyun flavors caught fire

Ever once in a while, Funyuns make an attempt to break out of their back-of-the-shelf doldrums by introducing a "fun" new flavor. In 2001 it was wasabi, then Flamin' Hot in 2007, followed by Chile & Limón in 2014 and Steakhouse Onion in 2015 (via Sam's Club). Of these alterna-Funyuns, only Flamin' Hot is still on the U.S. market, although Travelversed tells us that in Japan you can get shrimp-flavored Funyuns in the spring seasons.

While Flamin' Hot Funyuns may not be quite as popular as the equally Flamin' Hot Cheetos (no movie, for one), they do have their fanatic fans, including the Twitter user who opined "Flamin hot Funyuns are superior to hot Cheetos" and the one who admitted "you get less per bag, also theres less oil in them so the spice doesnt hit quite as hard . That being said i love flamin hot funyuns so f***ing much." A reviewer for the Los Angeles Times, however, was not crazy about the Funyun upgrade. They ranked Flamin' Hot Funyuns #26 out of 30 spicy snacks tested because they felt the onion flavor and the heat kind of counteracted each other, resulting in a surprisingly dull snack.

The Funyun Mandela effect

Fun Funyun fact: the snack was originally meant to be called OnYums, but, believe it or not, that name was already taken (via Legacy). In fact, it's still being used by this lovely, Funyunesque product available at discriminating retailers such as your local Dollar Tree. Yet another fun thing about Funyuns is that people persist in misremembering the name. It's a prime example of the Mandela Effect, a phenomenon in which a whole bunch people of people inexplicably share the same false memory. You know, like when you're positive the capital of Massachusetts is really Springfield or you're sure you remember Thanksgiving being a week earlier. (While Turkey Day used to fall on the 3rd Thursday in November, the National Archives say this was changed 80 years ago so it's not too likely that you actually do remember this.)

The Mandela Effect, as it pertains to Funyuns, refers to the fact that many people recall the product name being spelled "Funions." This never happened, but memories are funny things ... Still, as definitive proof, we present to you this response to a Reddit thread on the subject: "It was always Funyuns for me because if it were Funions then I would've gotten stuck mentally pronouncing it F-Unions." Ha, guess now we'll all be calling them that from now on.

Unconventional uses for Funyuns

The one area in which Funyuns reign supreme among snack foods, is their ability to stand in for play jewelry. That lovely extruded circle shape makes them ideal as pirate earrings, doll bracelets, or dressing Barbie up as an Olympic gold medalist or perhaps Mr. T (pity the fool who tries to give a doll his signature mohawk).

When you get tired of playing with your Funyuns, you can use them as a stand-in for breadcrumbs when making fried foods or crunchy casserole toppings, or use them in place of those fried onion thingies that only ever seem to top the polarizing Thanksgiving green bean casserole. And speaking of Thanksgiving, Parade Magazine even suggests that Funyuns can be used to add some "savory onion flavor" to your holiday turkey. So why not show the humble Funyun a little love next time the festive season rolls around? Dress up your turkey and trimmings, dress up your table (Funyuns centerpiece, anyone?), dress up your fingers while belting out "five GOL-DEN rings" ... Let's put the "fun" back in Funyuns!