Tacup Iron Prototype


Charles Elmer Doolin, founder of the Frito Company, was an inventor with a restless mind. In 1932 he bought the recipe for Fritos (“little fried things”) for $100 from Gustavo Olguin, the owner of a small restaurant in San Antonio, Texas. The following year Doolin began large-scale production of Fritos in Dallas and Houston, using a hybrid corn from his experimental farm. He continued to expand production while developing a nationwide ad campaign. By 1947, Fritos were being produced in factories across the United States.

In addition to making Fritos and Cheetos (production of which began in 1949 in Dallas, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City), Doolin continued to tinker with other recipes and food products. One of his ideas was the “Tacup,” a taco shell shaped liked a small, round tart. He built this prototype of a “Tacup” iron, which consists of two tart molds that fit one inside the other and are connected by handles that operate like tongs. A tortilla is pressed between the molds to form the scalloped-edged shell, which is then dipped into hot oil. Holes in the bottom mold exposed the tortilla to the hot oil, enabling it to cook evenly. Doolin designed a machine based on this prototype, receiving a patent for it in 1959. The Tacup, filled with various taco ingredients and Mexican flavors, was first introduced in the Dallas area at a chain of Dairy Marts. By 1955 visitors to Disneyland in southern California could order a “Taco in a Tacup”at Doolin’s restaurant, “Casa de Fritos.”

See Kaleta Doolin. Fritos Pie: Stories, Recipes, and More (Stephenville, TX: Tarleton State University Southwestern Studies in the Humanities), 2011.

Date Made: 19591950s

See more items in: Work and Industry: Food Technology, Food, FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000

Exhibition: Food: Transforming the American Table

Exhibition Location: National Museum of American History

Credit Line: Gift of Kaleta A. Doolin

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2012.0078.03Catalog Number: 2012.0078.03Accession Number: 2012.0078

Object Name: cooking ironiron

Physical Description: metal (overall material)Measurements: overall: 3 1/2 in x 22 in x 4 1/4 in; 8.89 cm x 55.88 cm x 10.795 cm

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746ad-a2ac-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_1417984

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