The Snack That Snarls Back

I’ve no idea if “Lady Doritos” are a real thing or just a spectacular prank played by PepsiCo, but in either case the name enough is worth it. “Lady Doritios.” Just say it again—you know you want to—and then picture how far we’ve come. In your youth did you ever, in your wildest dreams, gazing up at the stars and wondering of the worlds and the lifetimes to come, imagine that you would one day utter or even think the phrase “Lady Doritos?” The “second burthen of a former child” this surely is not.

The progenitor of these new feminized snack chips is, as you might have guessed, market research:

Market research has apparently identified noticeable differences in how men and women eat chips.

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 said.

“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.”

Freakonomics host Stephen Dubner asked Nooyi if her company is developing a “male and female version of chips.”

“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,” Nooyi responded.

Predictably, Internet feminists were pretty upset about the whole idea. “Lady Doritos sums up sexism in one chemically-flavored, chewy package,” said one. “Women are not to be heard. Men can be heard. Women are not to be messy. Men can get as messy as they like. Women are to settle for less. Men have no need to settle.” Another said: “what am i supposed to tell my kids? don’t make me talk to my kids, america.”  Still another: “i don’t know a single woman who doesn’t knock back the crumbs in the bottom of the bag.” (Honestly, she must not know very many women.)

The agonized protestations of feminism aside, here is an honest question: If, as these enraged commentators are suggesting, there is indeed no difference at all in the average chip-consumption habits of men and women, then why on Earth would Pepsi go to such great lengths to create, market and sell “snacks for women?” Do we think they did it for fun—just for yucks? Put another way: Why would a multinational invest millions of dollars in a new snack line if there was honestly no reason to do so? Do people think that Pepsi is in the habit of blowing large chunks of change on products that have no demonstrable market potential?

As most people will be happy to tell you, men and women do tend to eat differently—men more purposefully and perhaps more carelessly, women with a bit more grace and thus circumspection. It’s no big deal; it’s just a thing. Pointing out the generalized differences between men and women—not normatively, mind you, but merely as a matter of basic fact—is about as fraught a thing as one can do these days, but the truth nevertheless abides.

And that’s what all the grousing seems to be about: The people who are honking mad at the idea of Lady Doritos are, unconsciously or otherwise, actually mad at women, for eating, and generally behaving, differently from men. Pepsi has recognized the reality of sex differences even if feminists refuse to. As is usually the case, modern feminism is less about genuine equality and more about angry partisans browbeating women into acting like men—yet another reason why fewer and fewer people today are willing to call themselves feminists.

One comment

  1. Joy

    I must check my portfolio to see if I have Pepsi stock. If not, I’ll turn everything I do own into Pepsi stock. Not that I will eat Lady Doritos, but this is just the greatest idea; the stock will go into the stratosphere, at least for a while (I will sell at the first little tic downward). And actually, I think I do tip the crumbly bits into my hand, but they’re bits of pork rind because I am every inch the lady.

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