The truth about Funyuns

Funyuns are kind of the red-headed stepchild of the snack food aisle. Can you even remember the last time you plowed through a bag of the crisp oniony snacks? And what, exactly, is a Funyun, anyway?

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." A more accurate description would be seasoned cornmeal shaped into rings by an extrusion process, which sounds really painful — but actually it just means the Funyuns are mixed, shaped, and cooked almost simultaneously. We have to admit this is pretty efficient, even if it doesn't sound super appetizing.

Funyuns were invented by a Frito-Lay employee named George Bigner and hit the store shelves in 1969, although not under what was supposed to be their original name. They were to have been christened OnYums, but, believe it or not, that name was already taken. In fact, it's still being used by a Funyuns-esque product available at discriminating retailers such as your local Dollar Tree.

Funyuns have a fun history

Every once in a while, Funyuns make an attempt to break out of their back-of-the-shelf obscurity, mostly 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. Of these alterna-Funyuns, only Flamin' Hot is still on the market, unless, of course, you're in Japan, where you can get shrimp-flavored Funyuns.

One area in which Funyuns reign supreme among snack foods, however, is their ability to stand in for play jewelry. That lovely extruded circle shape makes them ideal as pirate earrings, doll bracelets, or equipping Barbie to look like an Olympic gold medalist.

As an added bonus, Parade Magazine even suggests that Funyuns can be used to add some "savory onion[ish] flavor" to a Thanksgiving turkey. So why not show the humble Funyun a little love the next holiday season? Dress up your turkey and dress up your table (Funyuns centerpiece, anyone?) — let's all pull together to put the "fun" back in Funyuns.