Fritos: delicious example of nixtamalization?

A brief history of Fritos in anticipation of this weekend’s Superbowl:

As much scorn and derision as today’s leading nutritional gurus heap onto processed foods, it’s worth noting that Fritos arrived here by way of a Mesoamerican staple and their invention and flavor owes a debt to one of the greatest food processing technologies ever invented: nixtamalization. The 3,000-year-old tradition adding calcium hydroxide—wood ash or lime—so greatly enriches the available amino acids in masa corn that Sophie Coe writes in America’s First Cuisines that the process underlies “the rise of Mesoamerican civilization.” Lacking this technology, early Europeans and Americans (who considered corn fit for slaves and swine) learned that eating a diet exclusively based on unprocessed corn led to pellagra, a debilitating niacin deficiency causing dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia and death.

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