If you've read the stories or glanced at the memes currently swirling in the vortex of bullshit and misinformation we call the Internet, you've probably learned that hallowed chip brand Doritos will soon be launching a new product: chips... for women.
People do not like this, for obvious reasons. Women don't need girly chips! We are perfectly capable of eating regular old gender neutral chips like everyone else! Lady chips are sexist! Here's what the commentariat on Twitter had to say:
Only interested in these "Lady Doritos" if they have the same exact chips but cost 76 cents on the dollar as compared to regular bags of Doritos.
— laura (@LauraSimis) February 5, 2018
Things women have not asked for:
lady Colonel Sanders
roofie-detecting nail polish
Things women have asked for:
no sexual harassment
no rape, like in general
pockets in clothing
peace and quiet https://t.co/vWL5gWF6Uh
— andi zeisler (@andizeisler) February 5, 2018
Lady Doritos isn't a bad idea. Sometimes I eat chips so loudly I start my period and it's distracting to the office :/
— "Sarah Schauer" (@SJSchauer) February 6, 2018
There is much, much more, some of it pretty funny. The fervor grew so out of control that Doritos even apologized for it.
We already have Doritos for women — they’re called Doritos, and they’re loved by millions.
— Doritos (@Doritos) February 6, 2018
The thing is, it's all bullshit.
Lady chips aren't a thing. They were never a thing. They were never going to be a thing. As Ruth Graham pointed out in Slate, this whole dumb drama was started because of a recent epsiode of Freakanomics Radio, a public radio show and podcast hosted by journalist Stephen Dubner.
Last week on the show, Dubner spoke to Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo. Nooyi, one of only 24 female CEOs of a Fortune 500 company, oversees a global company with 260,000 employees and that includes brands like Gatorade, Tropicana, Aquifina, FritoLays, and, yes, Doritos.
Dubner and Nooyi talked about a lot of things over the nearly hour-long show, including leading the company through a financial collapse and how they come up with new products. A partial transcript:
DUBNER: I understand that men and women eat chips very differently. Can you tell us the differences?
NOOYI: When you eat out of a flex bag — one of our single-serve bags — especially as you watch a lot of the young guys eat the chips, they love their Doritos, and they 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. Women would love to do the same, but they don’t. 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.
DUBNER: So is there a male and female version of chips that you’re playing with, or no?
NOOYI: 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. For women, low-crunch, the full taste profile, not have so much of the flavor stick on the fingers, and how can you put it in a purse? Because women love to carry a snack in their purse. The whole design capability we built in PepsiCo was to allow design to work with innovation. Not just on packaging colors, but to go through the entire cycle, and say, “All the way to the product in the pantry, or how it’s being carried around, or how they eat it in the car, or drink it in the car, what should be the design of the product, the package, the experience, so that we can influence the entire chain?”
That's it. The whole thing. There are no special pink chips that don't crunch for women. There's no plan to introduce his and her Cool Ranch Doritos. Nooyi wasn't even referencing stereotypes; she was referencing market research that has found that when you survey men and women, they have different preferences. And she was saying that PepsiCo is responsive to what customers want. As Ruth Graham wrote in Slate, "Isn’t that exactly what we want companies to do?"
But, thanks to inflammatory headlines ("CRUNCH DECISION: Doritos Firm to Launch Crisps for Women Because They Don’t like Crunching Loudly or Licking Their Fingers, Boss Reveal"), the memefication of everything, and our whole hearted embrace of outrage, #ladychips was born.
I asked Stephen Dubner, who inadvertently sparked this shit show, how he feels about it. "All I can say is that I’m in favor of journalism (in whatever form — podcast, website, newspaper, TV, etc.) that tries to tell you things you didn’t know and which are demonstrably true, as opposed to telling you how you should think about something that somebody heard about somewhere," he said. "Fortunately, none of this is at all new and our species presses on."