Why The Creator Of Fritos Didn't Eat His Own Product

Fritos founder Charles Elmer Doolin used his own hybrid corn to create the famous chips. He never stopped experimenting. His daughter, Kaleta Doolin's husband, told NPR, "He had lots of hidden kitchens. He had the kitchen off to the side of his office. He had the kitchen at home. He had factories, and on the counter, he had a line of Bunsen burners with little tripods with metal trays on top of them ... he was always experimenting, mixing up new flavors." Doolin was "obsessed," with Fritos said his daughter Kaleta (via NPR). But even though Fritos became such a big part of Kaleta's childhood, she hardly ever ate them. 

"I never brought Fritos to school," recalled Doolin's daughter. Instead, she brought healthy snacks, like yogurt and figs. Neither, it seems, did Charles Elmer Doolin normally eat Fritos or bring them home. "When we did [have them at home], Dad brought them off the conveyor belt with no salt on them," Kaleta Doolin remembered. Why the aversion to his invention?  The Fritos founder was a vegetarian and raised his family on a veggie diet. His dietary convictions, however, went much further than just meat-free. He was an avid follower of health food guru, Dr. Herbert M. Shelton. Shelton was the founder of the Natural Hygiene Health Movement (via Health Science) and an unwavering proponent of a plant-based diet. Salt and cornmeal? According to Shelton, both were dietary evils. 

Why Herbert Shelton rejected processed corn and salt

"Is salt a necessity of life?," asked Herbert M. Shelton in The Hygienic System. Yes, if you ask us. Salt is fundamental for french fries, mozzarella sticks, onion rings, and fried shrimp, which are among life's absolute necessities. Shelton would vehemently disagree. "We contend not only that the only salts that are useful to the body are those contained in foods, but also that if salts are taken in any other form they are positively injurious," he concluded. 

Shelton's assessment of processed corn was just as scathing. Degerminated cornmeal, he said in his book, along with "a whole long list of processed, refined and over-cooked foods ... are devoid of vitamins as they are deficient in minerals." Shelton went on to argue that "animals fed on ... corn syrup, corn grits ... corn starch, corn flakes, and other such foods possessing a high fuel value, sicken and die." It's safe to say that Fritos, which are both heavily salted and made out of deep-fried cornmeal, would not have made Herbert M. Shelton's list of go-to foods. So Charles Elmer Doolin was just following the doctor's orders.