You can see near the bottom a little cartoon cowboy with a shirt reading “Frito Kid” and text saying “See the Frito Kid in Action.” So who was the Frito Kid? And what the heck is a “tacup”!?
The Frito Kid was developed by the Frito Company as their mascot, and the success of Fritos landed them their very own restaurant at Disneyland, the Casa de Fritos. Here Guests could enjoy Mexican inspired food including one of my favorite dishes, Frito pie, along with a thing called a “tacup.” Think of it as a miniature taco salad sitting in a Frito bowl. This tacup is actually one of the things my dad remembers eating as a kid during his early visits to Disneyland. Also inside the Casa de Fritos Guests could, just as the poster boasts “See the Frito Kid in action” via a unique vending machine.
Here, Guests could put in a nickel, and the Frito Kid “came to life” moving his eyes and tongue side to side. He would call to his unseen partner, Klondike, for a bag of Fritos, and a bag would come down the slide. The Frito Kid had a variety of sayings, and I was excited to find that someone had uploaded them to YouTube!
The Casa de Fritos was originally located between what is today the Stage Door Cafe and the River Belle Terrace, but due to its popularity, it moved in 1957 to what is today Rancho del Zocalo.
A couple years after the Casa de Fritos moved, Fritos merged with Lay potato chips to form Frito-Lay in 1961. In 1965 Frito-Lay merged with Pepsi, who happened to be the sponsor of another Frontierland restaurant, the Golden Horseshoe. The Frito Kid was featured in an advertisement along side Wally Boag, who portrayed Pecos Bill at the Golden Horseshoe, where they were “friendly rivals.”
When the restaurant relocated, the Frito Kid vending machine moved too, and there he stood serving up delicious bags of Fritos for ten more years. In 1967 the Frito Kid rode into the sunset and was replaced by the Frito Bandito as the mascot of Fritos, however he was never represented in the park. Even without their mascot, the Casa de Fritos remained at Disneyland until 1982, when it was replaced by Casa Mexicana, which lasted until 2000, becoming Rancho del Zocalo, which it remains today.
So, being a fan of western, obscure Disney things, and wanting a comfy, functional costume for a day at D23, I made a Frito Kid costume! I also painted “Casa de Fritos” in the script as seen at the park onto a bag to have a fitting purse for the day.
And a little bonus picture that includes Colonel Whiskers, because he hand to come get in on the action…
I originally wanted to pass out bags of Fritos to people who got my costume, but the event restricted outside food and beverage. Sigh. I also only had about seven or so people know who I was. But those seven people were pretty excited!
Today, the Frito Kid and Pepsi’s sponsorship of the Golden Horseshoe are nearly completely forgotten. The Disneyland Resort only serves Coke products today. But next time you pass by Rancho del Zocalo at Disneyland think about the forgotten Frito Kid and his pal Klondike, and if you’re craving Frito pie at the park, step over to the Coke Corner on Main Street and order a Firefly or cross over to California Adventure’s Cozy Cone and order a “Chili Cone Queso”!
Hat: Amazon, hand painted by me.
Shirt: Roper, hand painted by me.
Jeans: Freddies of Pinewood
Boots: Antique Alley, Portland, Oregon
Bag: Michael’s, hand painted by me.