Lady Doritos: Because of Course

This week, the Internet was abuzz with talk of “Lady Doritos,” the latest in a series of gaffes by a major brand. The story went that Doritos was in the process of formulating a “lady-friendly” chip that would be “quieter” and “less messy” since, as we all know, if there’s one problem women face in 2018, it’s a too-crunchy tortilla chip.

PepsiCo, which owns Doritos, has since denied that Lady Doritos are in the works.  Following the initial rounds of Lady Dorito news, the brand released a statement claiming “The reporting on a specific Doritos product for female consumers is inaccurate.”

On February 5th, in an effort of continued damage control, the official Doritos Twitter account also proclaimed, “We already have Doritos for women — they’re called Doritos, and they’re loved by millions.” This echoed the sentiments expressed by PepsiCo in its own effort to quell the backlash to LadyDoritoGate.

So, all’s well that ends well, right? Well, not quite. Let’s rewind to the events that led to the crunch heard round the world.

It all began when Indra Nooyi, Chief Executive of PepsiCo, appeared on the January 31st episode of the “Freakonomics” podcast. When the talk turned toward the alleged differences in the way men and women eat chips, Nooyi stated:

“When you eat out of a flex bag — one of our single-serve bags—especially as you watch a lot of the young guys eat the chips, they love their Doritos, and they 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. Women would love to do the same, but they don’t. 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.”

These are actual words said by the chief executive of PepsiCo. In the United States. In 2018.

Sure, Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2017 was feminism, and every day we are watching more and more women make strides against unfair biases and gendered stereotypes, but please, tell us more about these delicate women and their fear of the “crunch.”

The interview went on:

DUBNER: “So is there a male and female version of chips that you’re playing with, or no?”

NOOYI: “It’s not a male and female as much as ‘are there snacks for women that can be designed and packaged differently?’ And yes, we are looking at it, and we’re getting ready to launch a bunch of them soon. For women, low-crunch, the full taste profile, not have so much of the flavor stick on the fingers, and how can you put it in a purse? Because women love to carry a snack in their purse.”

Because if there is one thing we know as a society in 2018, it’s that the modern woman love, love, LOVES gendered products. Tell me, will these low-crunch, full-taste, purse-fitting chips be pink? I sure hope so!

Look, PepsiCo and Doritos can send out all the damage control Tweets they want about how Lady Doritos are not now nor ever were a thing, but the brand sure has done an awful lot of research into the matter for it to have never been a consideration.

And, of course, brands are always testing products and seeing what works and what doesn’t—I suppose we can forgive them for that.

But, do they have to be so tone-deaf about everything? The last time PepsiCo made a splash in the news like this was when its embarassing ad with Kendall Jenner tried capitalizing on the Black Lives Matter movement. It belly-flopped in a major way, leaving most of us cringing like Chrissy Teigen at an awards show.

This time, hot off the heels of the #MeToo movement, we have “Lady Doritos.” During a time when women are trying to claim more space, make more noise, and demand more rights, we have a woman of influence and power, and a brand of influence and power, essentially saying, “Shhhh, we hear you. Now please have a quiet snack and settle down.”

Thanks, but no thanks, Doritos. If you really want to design a chip for women, make one we can hear over the sounds of smashing the patriarchy.

Until then, keep your Lady Doritos and your dated stereotypes to yourself. You’re making nachos look bad, and that is just unforgivable.

Candace Alnaji

Candace is a practicing attorney, working parents advocate, freelance writer, and proud mom. Her legal practice focuses on workers' rights. In her spare time, she enjoys working out, cooking, and renovating her midcentury home with her husband. She can be found writing about law, motherhood, and more on her blog as The Mom at Law. She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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