A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Lady Doritos create a socially cheesy mess

Snap. Crunch. Chomp.  No matter the eater, the various sounds heard when eating Doritos are pretty much all the same.  Or are they?

According to Indra Nooyi the CEO of PepsiCo, men and women eat Doritos differently.

“Men lick their fingers with great glee, and when they reach the bottom of the bag they pour the little broken pieces into their mouth, because they don’t want to lose that taste of the flavor, and the broken chips in the bottom,” Nooyi told Freakonomics Radio in late January.  

She didn’t stop there.

“Women would love to do the same, but they don’t,” she continued. “They don’t like to crunch too loudly in public. And they don’t lick their fingers generously and they don’t like to pour the little broken pieces and the flavor into their mouth.”

What is this? A 1950s etiquette class for young ladies?

Despite the shocking sexism involved in “gender-based” tortilla chips, Doritos would not be the first brand creating specific products marketed towards women.  In 2012, BIC tried to make pens geared toward women.

The BIC pens had created a line called  “For Her” with a sleek design that mostly consisted of girly pastel colors.

Doritos, which is owned by PepsiCo, would have a line of chips that are not as crunchy but still have the full flavor profile. Another difference with these “lady” chips is that they would not have so much seasoning that would stick on the fingers.  An added bonus?  These chips would go perfectly inside a purse because according to Nooyi, “women love to carry a snack in their purse.” Ridiculous.

By trying to create quieter chips with less seasoning, it is feeding into the stereotype that women have to be proper and well-mannered, but that is not true. While feminism may touch on the necessity of equality between men and women on more important topics, women have every right to crunch and get messy with their chips, too.

As expected, many women were not happy with the supposedly “Lady Doritos.”

“If the intention is to bring equality to the sexes, I think it’ll make them more distanced because if men see women with Doritos specifically for women, men might try and compete and have a specific type of food made for them as well, it’ll be like a competition.” said junior Arianna Minns.

Unless Doritos has some magic potion in their “lady” chips, most women consumers will stay far away from purchasing them.

“It is kind of weird to have Doritos specifically for women,” Minns explained further. “But if it could help with something, for example, period cramps I would eat them.”  

Under the Obama administration, PepsiCo was one of the companies that pledge to give equal pay to all their employees.  In fact, according to a pledge given to the Obama Administration, PepsiCo stated “PepsiCo is committed to ensuring that women earn equal pay for equal work. PepsiCo will continue our efforts to end unconscious bias and create an inclusive environment where women are hired, developed professionally, and promoted into leadership positions.”

However, it proves to be ironic that a company pledging equality would miss the mark so clearly.

“There are a lot more important problems to discuss like equal pay or sex discrimination, said junior Teena Varughese. “Instead, Doritos comes up with a campaign to downgrade women because in society’s eyes we are supposed to be modest in every action we take which is clearly sexist.”

If this was supposed to be some sort of way to break the gender divide, it didn’t work and it may have unintentionally expanded it.

Fortunately, the backlash after Nooyi’s interview was remarkable, this and as a result, Lady Doritos will not be created.