Thoughts From My Frito-Lay Trip

As most of you know I recently had the opportunity to guest blog for Frito-Lay. They were kind enough to invite me and nine other bloggers to a Blogger Event at Frito-Lay’s global headquarters in Plano, TX.  I have to say that I’ve never seen a corporate building like that before. (I know – I’m a smallish town girl.) The grounds were lovely, the people were nice, and the loyalty of the employees was evident in every one we met.

You may be wondering why in the world Frito-Lay would invite someone like me? (I secretly wondered the same thing!) It turns out that there are a couple of reasons. Even though I blog about weight loss and weight maintenance, I also am a believer in learning to eat in moderation, and that can include snack foods.  I would be the first to tell you that you can’t eat junk all day and stay healthy, but for a lot of us, we like the occasional snacky food and aren’t going to completely give them up. The second reason is that Frito-Lay has been working hard this past year in developing a few different snack lines developed specifically for women. Product lines like SmartFood are designed to appeal to women. They are lower in calories, higher in fiber and quite frankly – tasty.

While I was there I learned a lot of things I didn’t know. I learned that Frito-Lay has developed the first bio-degradable chip bag which will be introduced next year in their SunChip line. I learned that they are partnering with TerraCycle to recycle their other lines chip bags which aren’t really heavy enough to be recycled by companies, and I learned that in spite of being a huge corporation, there are real people trying to make a difference. No company is perfect, but then neither am I! They also send some of their extra bags to the high end designerEcoist who makes them into interesting designer accessories.

Ecoist Handbag

Here’s some tidbits you might find interesting:

This man is Frito-Lay’s first ever head chef. Stephen Kalil gave us a fascinating demonstration of how they developed the flavors of a new “top-secret” SmartFood selection that will unveil next year, and then he showed us how the Cheeseburger flavor of Doritos was developed. (It did taste like a cheeseburger, but probably not a chip flavor I’d eat. My husband though – yes!)  We then got a tour of the culinary center.

 Stephen Kalil

 This is the kitchen. (Don’t you wish yours looked like this?)

 Frito Lay Kitchen


Here’s the pantry. (A lot of these ingredients looked familiar to me.)

Frito Lay Pantry


Here’s the cookbooks they sometimes reference. Stephen said something interesting about discovering new trends. He said even though he has access to all sorts of research sites, he enjoys watching certain “regular” websites and seeing what real people are cooking and what new flavors they are using!

Frito Lay Cookbook Library

I have to confess that I never really thought too much about how companies come up with the products they make. I knew I either liked them or I didn’t. One interesting part of the visit was the plant tour. They wouldn’t let us take pictures but it was fascinating to see how the Baked line of chips/doritos/tostitos was made. I even got to try them hot off the line and they were quite tasty. Although I wasn’t so sure about the Hot Fries!  I’d never had those before and thought my mouth was on fire when I tasted it! The other bloggers laughed at me because they knew how hot those things were!

All in all it was a lot of fun and something I’ll probably never get to do again. I missed my family a lot, but knowing John was handling the homeschooling duties made me rest easy. (Well, not really, but it was a nice wifely thing to write!)  Diane

I’ve edited this post so those of you who are interested can check out the nutrition label on their new SmartFood popcorn clusters for yourself. Here’s nutrition info on the PeanutButter Apple Flavor.


20 thoughts on “Thoughts From My Frito-Lay Trip

  1. Gina Fit by 41, Maybe 42 says:

    Hi! I’m new to the blogging world but have decided to try to use it to help me on my journey to fitness. I have found you blog inspiring. Thank you.

    The Frito-Lay visit sounds interesting. I’m nervous about their marketing plans to women. The SmartFoods line sound deceiving, trying to make people think their stuff is healthy. Poptarts are in the SmartFoods line, also. I’m not against snacks…but maybe it should be named “NotAsBadForYou” line or the “LessorOfTwoEvils” line.

    It’s cool that their packaging will be biodegradable, but are their snacks?

    I apologize for being pessimistic. I don’t think they have our health in mind…just their wallets. I hope I’m wrong. I hope their new line has real-food ingredients, whole grains instead of white flour, low sodium, no trans-fat, no hfcs, etc.

    • Diane says:

      Gina – The SmartFood line at Frito is not part of the program you are thinking of. You are thinking of the Smart Choice campaign in which several large manufacturers joined together and marketed some of their sugary cereals, etc. as healthy. That campaign was stopped in October.

      SmartFood is a new line at Frito. It currently really only has popcorn clusters. There are only 120 calories per serving and 5 g of fiber and low sodium. So it really is a healthier snacking alternative. I’m glad you brought that up because there definitely could be some confusion. Next year they will unveil more products. Not as healthy as an apple, but better than some other choices I’ve made in the past!

      Not that I’m defending a big corporation – but just wanted to set that part of the record straight!

  2. Dawn says:

    Looks like a fun time, the family and I always love watching those “how it’s made” shows so I think I would definitely love getting to see all this sort of stuff.

    • Diane says:

      I’m going to check again if we can “reveal” the new SmartFood product. I can tell you it’s not popcorn or a chip! And it was really good and a little bit gourmet.

  3. Jody - Fit at almost 52 says:

    Diane, I wish my kitchen looked like that even though I can’t cook! 🙂 I need new appliances so that would help!!!

    I am so glad you had a fantastic time & learned cool stuff! I have worked “Corporate” so I am a bit jaded on these corporations BUT it is good they are trying to do better things!

    I am curious, how did they find you? Did they see you blog?

    Have a great weekend!
    .-= Jody – Fit at almost 52´s last blog ..Saturday Funnies!!! Cute Grandkid Pic Too! =-.

  4. Pam says:

    Cheeseburger Doritos? Blech! ; )

    It looks like you had a great time and I am so glad that you got the opportunity to go – how amazing.

    There is already a line of SmartFood Snacks out right now…they have popcorn as the main bulk and other things, like nuts, dried fruit, etc in them. Wonder if they had anything to do with them? If not, hopefully they will call theirs something else!

    I still like my chips from time to time, but we have switched to Baked ones, so it will be neat to see what they offer.

    Thanks for sharing your trip with us!
    .-= Pam´s last blog ..Anyone Miss Us?? =-.

    • Diane says:

      Pam – those SmartFood snacks are Frito. They are focusing on those popcorn clusters right now. I think there are 4 flavors of them. Peanut Butter Apple is my personal favorite. Next year they will offer another snack other than just the popcorn clusters. In two weeks they are coming out with a new flavor of Baked called Parmsean & Tuscan Herb. We got to taste that one. Our family does mostly baked chips too – much lower in fat. 🙂

  5. Leah says:

    Thanks for sharing a bit about your trip. Very interesting.

    I’m glad you were able to enjoy it.

    I’m like you in thinking that a small snack every once in a while is okay. I’m a everything-in-moderation girl.
    .-= Leah´s last blog ..Learning to Believe =-.

  6. Marcelle says:

    Sounds very interesting and its a fantastic idea for junk food makers to want to make their products more healthy as we all like to have a little junk food from time to time.

    I love the kitchen, all the ingredients, mine is surely lacking in that department.

    We dont have that brand for sale here in Germany or in South Africa….

    Have a great weekend.
    .-= Marcelle´s last blog ..Eating Out & Planning =-.

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