Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, which owns Doritos, was interviewed on the Freakonomics podcast recently. She said her company is making a less crunchy version of Doritos because "woman don't lick their fingers generously and they don't like to pour the little broken pieces and the flavor into their mouth," at least not in public.
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?"
The New York Times reported that PepsiCo has been furiously backpedaling since the interview ran:
"The reporting on a specific Doritos product for female consumers is inaccurate," the company said in a statement released on Monday night. "We already have Doritos for women — they're called Doritos, and they're enjoyed by millions of people every day. At the same time, we know needs and preferences continue to evolve, and we're always looking for new ways to engage and delight our consumers."
Asked what Ms. Nooyi meant by "snacks for women that can be designed and packaged differently," a spokeswoman declined to elaborate.
"I can't yet give any more details beyond what Indra relayed in the podcast," the spokeswoman said. "However, I will be able to in a few months."