Harley Hay

Harley Hay: A new tooth for Christmas

So I was sitting in the dentist’s chair last night wondering about food. Maybe it’s the survival instinct but food never seems very far away from our thoughts, or our mouth for that matter. But I was thinking about food on account of a broken tooth and the fact that Christmas is basically here and all that excellent Christmas food isn’t currently that fun to eat for me and my faulty molar. Also, I was thinking about the fact that dentists are open at night. Who knew? Everybody, I suppose, but I try very hard to not go to a dentist at any time, let alone a formerly pleasant evening.

And then, on the way home I took the long way ‘round and drove by many quite wonderful Christmas lights on many houses and I felt a lot better. I’m not sure if it’s the damn-demic that has resulted in more folks putting up lights this year, but it seems like there’s a bit brighter light shining in the Covid tunnel these days, in more ways than one. In fact, bias admitted, our street is one of the shinier ones – as evidenced by a steady stream of cars full of families driving by every evening. This, of course, got me to thinking of Doritos.

Maybe I should explain.

At Christmas, whenever the Better Half and I drive down a particularly bright and shiny street full of lights and impressive holiday displays, invariably one of us will say, “Oh, it’s like Disneyland!” And any time we are lucky enough to go to Disneyland any time of the year, one of us always says, “Wow, it’s just like Christmas!” So last night, instead of thinking about a sore tooth and the mandatory avoidance of full-on Christmas gluttony, I was thinking about Disneyland. Which is basically the same as thinking about Christmas.

And from there, my tiny brain cells slipped into the familiar food mode and in sudden defiance of a debilitating toothache, I was suddenly tempted to pull over to a gas station store a pick up some munchies. I had a barely controllable yearn for a medium sized bag of spicy, salty potato chips. Isn’t it fascinating (and depressing) that sometimes we crave something just because we know we can‘t have it.

And this got me to thinking about chips and then I remembered reading recently an interesting little factoid about Doritos being invented at Disneyland! So instead of stopping to get a nice bag of what our British friend Lesley would call “crisps,” I drove home and looked it up (which was nowhere near as satisfying, but much less painful).

Turns out that in the early 60s there was a Mexican restaurant in Disneyland called Casa de Fritos that specialized in tortillas. Someone got the brilliant idea to cut up any extra tortillas lying around, fry them, season them and sell them as chips. Boom. Instant success.

A big company called Frito-Lay noticed a lot of Disneylanders munching on these fried tortilla delectables, purchased the rights, and called them Doritos which is a Spanish slang for “little fried and golden thing”. (But wouldn’t it have been excellent if they’d just called them “Little Fried and Golden Things?”) By the 90s these crunchy, tasty treats were bringing in over $1 billion of yearly sales!

And so toothache equals dentist, equals Christmas lights, equals Disneyland which equals Doritos. And even if Santa doesn’t bring me a new tooth this Christmas, I can always try melting a little chocolate in the old gub.

So pass a stack of After Eights, a pile of Purdy’s Assorted, a bucket of Tylenols, and Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker.

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