Being born and raised in Texas there are two things I can’t help doing and that’s eatin’ and braggin’, which combined into today’s topic … food and drink invented in Texas.
Charles “Elmer” Doolin was a confectioner in San Antonio, Texas, during the Depression. But when he first tasted a local version of fried corn chips, he was hooked. He bought the recipe for $100 and with the help of his mother and father, using various types of corn, he developed the famous clip in their kitchen. It is rumored that his mother, Daisy, loaned him the money to purchase the recipe by selling her wedding band. Doolin made it his life’s work to perfect the flavor of Fritos. He varied the recipe, created his own hybrid corn, and developed a conveyor-belt manufacturing until to make the chips more efficiently. Along the way, he also invented the Cheeto.
Two popular items were developed especially for the Frito included Frito Chili Pie, invented by Doolin’s mother, and chocolate-covered Fritos; which I must admit I’ve never tried and frankly not sure it’ll make it to my bucket lists of foods I want to try before I die. Of interest, Elmer Doolin, by most accounts, was a vegetarian and avoided salt.
The Mars candy production plant in Waco, Texas, produces nearly all of the Snickers bars sold in America. The landfills of Waco produce nearly all the fuel used to heat the Mars plant. A program designed to harvest the methane gas produced naturally by garbage puts it to good use. As a result, Mars saves more than a half a million dollars a year, and the people of Waco get to breathe a bit easier. Mars also makes the famous Milky Ways and M&M’s, but not at this facility.
Also coming from Waco is our
famous soft drink, Dr Pepper. It was invented by a pharmacist in 1885. He had noticed that people loved the sweet smell of the soda fountain in the store and he was trying to capture that sensation in a taste.
By 1891, Dr Pepper was being produced at a bottling plant in Dublin, a few miles away, and it became a national hit in 1904 at the St. Louis World’s Fair.
Today, the Dublin plant still makes Dr Pepper according to the original formula with cane sugar instead of corn syrup. And readers, I didn’t make a mistake by not putting a period after Dr, since it was dropped by the bottling company in the 1950’s.
Waco’s Dr Pepper Museum is a storehouse of information and memorabilia about the soft-drink industry in general and the headquarters of the Free Enterprise Institute, which teaches students about entrepreneurship.
It was probably frustrating for car-hops and waitresses to always have to ask, “What kind of coke, do you want?”
What is your favorite chip, candy bar or drink?
Since Valentine’s Day is approaching, I’ll give away an autographed copy of “Be My Texas Valentine” to one lucky person who leaves a comment.