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December 16, 2005
More Corporate Correspondence

Dear Frito-Lay Empire,

I have long admired your work. Kudos, especially, on the extra-wide Frito corn chip, which really does yield an optimal dipping experience. I wish I could tell you that this letter is only to laud you for your place of leadership at the vanguard of snack food excellence. Unfortunately, it is my sad duty to be the one to tell you that lately you have begun to miss a step. Not all cylinders are firing. There's a few bulbs out in your tree. Whatever corporate pseudo-metaphorical business-speak works for you.

The point is, Frito-Lay Companies, you have become a love 'em and leave 'em kind of snack food conglomerate. First, you hook me on your delicious Barbeque flavored corn chip, a staple of movie-watching for years in the Woodlief household. Then you introduce the Chili Cheese Frito, Barbeque's flashy cousin from Albuquerque. Sure, Chili Cheese drives a nice car and always leaves you with that breathless special on-top-of-the-world feeling, but after a while you realize he's all smile and no impact, all powdery initial taste but no lingering substance.

So I admit I flirted with the Chili Cheese Frito, but only for a while, and then I was back with my steady Eddie Barbeque Fritos, happy as a transfat cell snuggled up nice and close to a favorite artery wall.

But then I noticed the Barbeque Frito wasn't around so much any more. I would go to my favorite grocer, and see only a row of Chili Cheese Frito, flashing his big-city grin and revving his engine. Now finding a bag of Barbeque Fritos is like finding a lucid statement from Michael Moore -- you know they must exist, but you're darned if you can locate one.

You've let me down, Frito-Lay Corporation, plain and simple. You're like, oh, I don't know, let's take a purely hypothetical and totally made-up example, a wife who buys some slinky little lingerie number in a festive holiday theme, but only wears it the one time. It's not right, Frito-Lay Megalith, it's simply not right.

And now let me address my real complaint, the one that has really frosted my cinnamon buns. That's right, I'm talking about the Guacamole Potato Chip.

First, let's get one thing straight right off the bat. Don't even bring that nasty, stick-in-your-throat Dorito Guacamole disaster up in here. Don't even, Frito-Lay Behemoth. That's weak.

I'm talking about the delicate yet powerfully tasty Guacamole Potato Chip. The one we bought numerous bags of, funding who knows how many lucrative stock options for top Frito-Lay Corporate Chieftains. The beautiful Guacamole Potato Chip. The flavor-filled Guacamole Potato Chip.

The entirely absent Guacamole Potato Chip.

What really hurts, Frito-Lay Colossus, is that you didn't even warn us. We could have stocked up. We could have taken the time to linger over those last greasy delicious morsels. We could have mourned, we could have prepared ourselves.

But no, you just murdered the Guacamole Potato Chip, and then to add insult to injury, you pretend on your colorful uninformative corporate Website that he never existed.

Et tu, Frito-Lay?

So tell me, why should we trust you now? Say you manage to compress the tasty flavor of a bag of peanuts poured into a Coca-Cola, and spread it onto a savory pita chip? Why should I grow attached to a new offering from you? Why should I let myself love again, after you've wounded me so? I ask you, Frito-Lay and Associated Subsidiaries, why should I give my heart to you again?

Do you think I like buying off-brand chips, Frito-Lay Leviathan? Do you think I enjoy cheapening myself in that way, closing my eyes and pretending that the Kroger barbeque chips are really my beloved Barbeque Fritos?

Well, I most certainly do not. So here I am in this beautiful season of excess, and I am eating popcorn during movie time. Popcorn, Frito-Lay. It's a net calorie loss, by the time you count all the fishing around at the bottom of the bowl for those kernels that are hard enough to fight back, but not too hard to chip a molar.

I thought I meant more to you than this, Frito-Lay and Affiliated Entities. But I guess I do not. I'm just another statistic.

But this statistic has a heart, Frito-Lay. He has a big, overlabored, cholesterol-inhibited heart. And thanks to you, that heart is breaking. Goodbye, Faceless Frito-Lay Corporate Giant. Goodbye.

Posted by Woodlief on December 16, 2005 at 08:39 AM



Personally, I have never understood the way large companies do this. It's guaranteed to make people (such as yourself) mad at them. I guess experience has taught them that such anger is short-lived and meaningless, as people will still buy the staple products they like, regardless of who makes them.

Example: Coca-cola. Vanilla Coke is going (or just went) off the market after, well, several years. I have a friend who LOVES that stuff, and he's really bummed... but he's going to go back to drinking regular Coke, because that's the next best thing.

Why do they bother to make something unless they're really going to KEEP making it? LIME Coke, for instance. Ew.

Or the short-lived, "promotional" items at major food chains (such as the current McRib "the farewell tour"... ?!?). It's just weird.

Posted by: Deoxy at December 16, 2005 9:16 AM

I am with you on the lingerie thing! My wife doesn't read this site does she . . .

As to Frito-Lay, shame on them.

Posted by: Kevin Holtsberry at December 16, 2005 9:18 AM

Heh. I'm impressed. Remind me not to mess with you. I guess Wichita comes with it's own attitude adjustment.

Posted by: greg at December 16, 2005 10:04 AM

So this is a global problem is it. Perhaps we should start a protest group that hangs out at all of those big multi-national events like the WTO. Here in the UK we just accept that we are Subjects and not Citizens but if it's affecting the pinacle of consumer choice something has to be done.

Posted by: Graham Chastney at December 16, 2005 10:10 AM

My father, dead now these 22 long years, must have been the ONLY person on the face of the earth to love McRibs. Even back then, they were putting them on and off the market! He would get SO mad when they'd pull his beloved pretend sandwich, but all would be forgiven when the darned thing would make another comeback.

If he was alive today, he'd still be grumbling between loyal bites. :)

Posted by: Katy Raymond at December 16, 2005 10:11 AM

I know just how you feel. We got hooked on roasted red pepper Tostitos, and now they are gone, gone, gone. Happens with everything we like. We could hire ourselves out to products' competitors...

Posted by: Aggiebot at December 16, 2005 10:16 AM

Do you send these letters to the actual companies? If you don't, you should! They should really know how they hurt some of us so deeply!!!

Posted by: Mike A. at December 16, 2005 10:41 AM

"Say you manage to compress the tasty flavor of a bag of peanuts poured into a Coca-Cola, and spread it onto a savory pita chip?"

Sorry, Frito-Lay is owned by Pepsi. As is Quaker, Tropicana, Gatorade, yadda yadda yadda.

Posted by: a concerned consumer at December 16, 2005 10:56 AM

Creative Destruction, Mr. Woodlief and you of all people should know what it means. If we lack the strength to part with these age-old or short- lived products, companies, tennis shoes, or whatever it might be, then the economy doesn't grow, new ideas do not flourish, etc. etc. etc.

Creative Destruction. You should know it because you helped teach it to me.

Having said that, I do miss my Banana Republic plain gray/white boxer shorts which were ended with no warning. Not even an opportunity was had to go to the outlet and stock up. So, here I sit trying to find a new pair of boxers that meet all of my needs like the Navy trying to pick a new destroyer between Lockheed, Newport News, etc.

What am I supposed to do?

Posted by: michael at December 16, 2005 11:28 AM

That would be "the corn is no longer in the popper" as the snack food metaphor you were looking for!

Another excellent letter.

Trifling with us they are! Trifling!

Posted by: cooper at December 16, 2005 12:40 PM

Oh come on. It isnt like Frito-Lay didnt have a track pattern of this. Remember the Frito Bandito? They murdered him over 30 years ago. BASTARDS!

Posted by: buzz at December 23, 2005 10:06 PM