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Saturday
Jun262010

Frito Kid and Deeee-licious Fritos!


 
 
Click to hear the Frito Kid speak!

 

From 1952 until 1967, the Frito Kid was the official mascot of Fritos corn chips.  In the 1950s and 1960s, at Disneyland's Casa de Fritos, guests could pay a nickel for a bag of chips to be dispensed by this elaborate vending machine.  Upon inserting your nickel, the Frito Kid figure would come to life, turning his head, licking his upper lip, slowly moving his eyes side to side.  He would call to the unseen miner, Klondike, to send a bag of chips up the mine.  Klondike would respond with an echoey voice sounding like he was deep in the corn chips mine.  A wax-paper bag of chips would slide down the trough.  A number of different audio tracks would play so each customer heard something different from the last.  (Audio samples above).

Frito Kid:  "Someone else knows what’s good.  Another bag of Fritos, Klondike!"
Klondike:  "Okay, comin’ right up. One bag of crisp, salted Fritos."
Klondike even implies that these salted chips are good for you.  He does it to a tune similar to "Jingle Bells":
Frito Kid:  ♫   "Dig those chips, dig that gold, dig those chips of corn."  ♫   
Klondike:  ♫   "They are dark and salted too, Fritos best for you."  ♫   

Other chips were sold in normal, non-animated-vending-machine ways but I can't imagine many kids ever passed up the chance to see and hear the interaction between this miner and cowboy as they deliver chips down a wooden-like mine chute.

Casa de Fritos

Casa de Fritos originally opened the month after the opening of Disneyland in 1955 next to Aunt Jemima's Pancake House in an area called New Orleans Street.  The Frito Kid setup stood just inside the front door.  It was popular but rarely photographed making it one of the most mysterious product-pitching mechanical corporate sponsor mascots of any Disney park, much like the even more mysterious and rarely photographed Florida Orange Bird of the Magic Kingdom.

Casa de Fritos moved northward in July of 1957, deep into Frontierland to a larger location next to Rainbow Caverns Mine Train.  Found in that location now is Rancho del Zocalo Mexican Restaurant. A few architectural remnants still remain.  In the photos above (upper right and lower right) you can see a little of what still exists.  The archway with broken adobe and exposed brick was once the main Casa de Fritos entrance, now an entrance to a dining area.  The adobe/brick oven is still there today but with tables and chairs in front.

When the restaurant moved, the Frito Kid went with it.  As seen in these photos, the Kid was moved from the right of the mining trough to the left.  The mine and mountain were modified significantly, if not completely replaced.  The stand with potato chips and other products did not survive the move.  And who are those guys above the mountain?  Are they in a knife fight?  And why are they there?  I'm dying to know.  Do they have something to do with the bandits from the Frito Kid mini comic books? (Photos further below)

Where is the bag of chips the Frito Kid is supposed to be holding?  Did it fall on the chute?  Is that why there are two bags on the chute?  Did that older kid take it?  How come he sometimes has four fingers and sometimes five?  Was his yellow, curvy hair modeled after a Frito chip??  Is the Frito Kid related to Richie Rich?... or could they be the same person???  So many questions.

"Fritos Served With All Dishes"

A combination plate for a buck?  Ice cream for 15cents?

"Spaghetti and Chili", is that Mexican?

 

 

 

Check out the Frito Kid hamming it up with his Golden Horseshoe Revue friends and "friendly rival", Pecos Bill in this Pepsi-Cola/Fritos promotional piece.

 

Look!  Fritos can be used for bait to lure unsuspecting bandits out of caves.  Who knew?  And what is that cool thing on the left?  Looks like a toy but at second glance you'll see that this statue is rather large.  I'd like one.  And my wife loves old junk like that too... not.

 

It's not easy to forget the Fritos mascot who followed the Frito Kid, the Frito Bandito.  The character was voiced by the great Mel Blanc.  Close your eyes and you might think you are listening to Speedy Gonzales- also a Blanc character.  Some call the Fritio Bandito racist.  I call him hilarious.  How can you not like his mild threats made in the name his love for corn chips?

♫   "Aye, yii, yii, yiiii, oh, I am the Frito Bandito. Give me Frito Corn chips and I'll be your friend. The Frito Bandito you must not offend."   ♫

My dad still loves to sing the sond, accent and all.  Sadly the Frito Bandito never made it to Disneyland (that I know of).

 

In 2007, in celebration of Fritos' 75th anniversary, the Frito-Lay company released limited anniversary edition packaging with old brand and image of the Frito Kid, even though the Frito Kid was not introduced until 20 years after the Frito chips made their debut.  Still fun.

 

 

If you have memories of the Frito Kid machine at Disneyland, do tell!  If any of you have video or photos not seen here, please send.  I'd give my right eye for behind the scenes photos of this thing.

 

Image credits:  Ozarklabrdoodles, Tiki Ranch, Daveland, Miehana, Ladypuppy1939, lplocharsk, Frito-Lay, Jtons7880, and myself.


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UPDATE:

Hoot Gibson posted a comment below that raised my eyebrow.  Does the mountain behind the Frito Kid not look like Splash Mountain???... and the original location is oh so close to that of Splash Mountain....  Hmmmmmm.  What do you think?  (The Splash Mountain model photo is one I recently took at the Opera House and it happens to be the same angle and sort of similar scale).

 

Related post:

Frito Kid Mysteries Continue

 

 

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments (28)

I know that my 1960s elementary school lunches were better because my Fritos were "as served in Disneyland!"

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSorcerer Mickey

Boy how I wish I remembered this! I remember the restaurant that replaced Casa de Fritos called Casa Mexicana and the Mexican food wasn't that great. Then came Rancho del Zocalo with a Mexican food menu AND a BBQ menu for some time served from 2 stations from what I remember. Now it has only Mexican food at the 2 stations plus a salad station. The one side still has a BBQ type decor. Decent food Noe but no Frito Kid!

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSKIPP

I could really go for some corn chips in a wax paper bag right about now.

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTL98H8R

Great memories guys! Yeah this makes me hungry too.

Also, doesn't it look like the bags of chips were harder to get off the chute in the second version of this vending machine? It's not as steep and the end of the chute is behind the wooden fence. I'm wondering if the bags stopped sliding half way down. Kinda looks like it in the one photo.

June 27, 2010 | Registered CommenterFritz

I never knew that the Frito Kid invented Splash Mountain! His version has the wooden mill on the right though. I wouldn't mind it if the logs were changed to four person Frito bags. Not at all.

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHoot Gibson

whoa! where is that pic of the Frito Kid statue from? do you own that???

June 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjordan

I wish. Great, huh? I don't remember where that came from but I'll find it and let you know.

June 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterFritz

Doesn't anyone else see how Splash Mountain that display is?? AND it was only a stone's throw from where the ride was actually built! Let Frito sponsor that thing and let me ride in a big Frito bag!

June 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHoot Gibson

Yes! I agree. It's totally a precursor to Splash Mountain by the looks of things. Hmmmm. I think I'll update the post with a comparison.

June 29, 2010 | Registered CommenterFritz

NO WAY! It really is like splash mt. And riding on a big frito bag would be so funny to see.

June 30, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertylerz

I remember the Kid but only at the second site - and I remember him outside, not inside.

July 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarko50

Of course Fritos are healthier! The ingredient list is: Corn, Corn Oil, Salt.

September 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWoody

Does anyone know where the Frito Kid Disneyland machine is today? It's not at Disneyland. Does Frito have it?

September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJoe E.

Wow, suddenly Frontierland's Mcdonald's Fry cart doesn't seem like a big deal anymore

September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Ninja Pirate

Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!!!! I have tears in my eyes!!! You can NOT imagine how thrilled I am to see these photos of the Fritos Kid and the dispensing machine that I dearly loved as a kid back in 1960!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU for posting this!!!

January 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterConnie

super ..

January 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermoto

Sounds like Mel Blanc was the voice of Frito Bandito. Cool!

February 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBad Juju

I remember we would get the Frito bag at Casa de Frito, and pour our hot chili inside and eat out of the bag with a spoon. Have you looked in the Haunted Mansion attic for him? Rusty

December 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRusty

I have two mint comic books like the one you show any info would be great.

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrandy

I love listening to this and eating fritos at the same time....just seems right!

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJEJDisney

If they could have sold both Frito's and Wompum's in Fronteirland then we would have both Cowboys and Indians represented there. Wompums go back to the 1930's, and I think were better tasting. We could get both in High School back then. Somebody in Deorating may know where the Frito Kid is today and I will ask an old timer from back then. PD

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterProfessional Dreamer

Won't you get in trouble from Disney's copyright nazi's for having that audio on there? I wanted to put that on my website but I was worried about that happening.

May 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMountain Mike

The other Disney Mexican Bandito only lasted for a short while in America Sings 1974 debut Scene 2-Out West, who used to sing "who shot that hole in my sombrero," atop his mule. I remember a certain actor who greeted you on Fantasy Island complained and got the Mexican Bandito character removed, and Marc replaced him with the "Miner" or old prospecting terrier dog singing the same song atop the same mule, only wearing a 10 gallon hat instead of a sombrero. The soundtrack was not changed so he still gets a hole shot in his sombrero. So the Frito Bandito probably would not have lasted long at Disneyland with the Frito Kid in 1974 or after that.

May 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterProfessional Dreamer

Then Jeff Foxworthy should have complained about the prospector negatively portraying rednecks.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMountain Mike

I just had to look up Redneck in the Wikipedia dictionary, and definitely the dog was not portrayed as a southern farmer, but as an out west miner riding his pack mule. His image just shifted North a bit from where he was. The Disneyland mule rides had just ended in 1973 before America Sings was born, and this "Out West" portraiture may be a Marc Davis connection to them and Fronteirland which he was much involved with and his mining town of Rainbow Ridge and Natures Wonderland.

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterProfessional Dreamer

I remember as a young teenager, the Frito machine was broken and Fritos kept coming down the chute for free. We loaded up on them and went to the Skyway and dropped them on the people below. Maybe I wasn't as nice a kid as I tell my children I was?! HeeHee!

November 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBoodle

Great Fritos history. Checking up on the dates as I am placing a Fritos Kid coffee mug on ebay. It is vintage and very rare.

November 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRuss White

I remember at Disneyland when you got a cup of chilli and poured it into the foil lined Frito bag with Frito's and eat with a spoon out of the bag..

May 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRusty

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