Everything You Don’t Need to Know About Funyuns

Everything You Don’t Need to Know About Funyuns

By: Carter Severns


I was filling up my water bottle in the office break room and glanced at the over-sized commercial box of mini Funyun bags that periodically show up in our monthly re-stock of snacks.

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This is a box of Funyuns.

This, logically, led me to start thinking about the origin of the Funyun. I went to @TheRealFunyuns twitter page for answers, but pretty much only found unusual things like this:

Needless to say, I still had questions that needed answering.

Being that my mind is on a never-ending quest to identify opportunities for entrepreneurial success (and enough financial freedom to eat hibachi for every meal that is prepared by a personal chef in my grotto). I started to wonder about the person who came up with Funyuns and thought to myself, “If only I could just invent the next Funyuns.”

I assumed that there had to be a rather competitive landscape when trying to enter the snack food industry. I continued to assume that it couldn’t be easy to just launch a successful chip, but I knew there were probably financial rewards that would follow any decent amount of success. My assumption was validated. According to Nielsen, in 2014 global snack food sales reached $374 billion with North America making up $124 billion of that total. So, yea, there is some money to be made there.

After not having much success on Twitter, I headed over to the Google to find out more about where these onion-flavored, finger-sized hula hoops of Styrofoam came from. And, as always, the Google did not disappoint.

I’m not sure which class of food a Funyun falls into, but it seems most natural to refer to the them as chips. To validate my decision to do so, here is Google’s definition of a chip:

“A thin slice of food made crisp by being fried, baked, or dried and typically eaten as a snack.”

If you disagree with calling them chips, please leave your comments in my comment box:

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This is my comment box.

Where did they come from?

Despite Frito Lay saying these chips were spawned from a unicorn spark combining with the last wild onion on Earth (No I’m not kidding. Yes, I’ll explain later).  Here is a more accurate history of the Funyun:

The chip was invented in 1969 in Texas by an employee of the Frito Lay company named George Bigner. They are made up mostly of corn meal, water and an onion/salt mix for flavor. The name was given to them by a University of North Texas professor after discovering their original name, “OnYums” had already been taken by another company.

So, right off the bat, the invention of the Funyun isn’t quite as glorious as a unicorn strike and an onion combining forces. There also wasn’t an exciting disruption of the snack industry like I had previously hypothesized. Since they were created under the roof of Frito Lay, Bigner probably didn’t reap the monetary rewards he might have had he entered the chip game as a wild card trying to disrupt the industry.

Who invented them?

We could move right along here, but what kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t share some research on George Bigner first? So lick the Funyun dust off your fingers and hold onto your britches, because we are about to dive deep down this rabbit hole.

According to his obituary, Bigner was born July 8, 1940 and passed away January 26, 2015. He graduated from USL in Lafayette in 1962 with a degree in Animal Husbandry and then an M.S. degree in Food Science and Technology from LSU in 1965. The Food Science and Technology degree makes complete sense given that he invented Funyuns, but what about his first degree?

And that leads us to stop #1 on our rabbit hole route. What the Funyun is Animal Husbandry?

I started to form a summary on Animal Husbandry myself, but the definition on collegeatlas.org was much more simple:

Animal husbandry programs are designed to prepare students to care for, select, process, breed, and market livestock and small farm animals. They typically include in depth instruction in animal nutrition, basic animal science, and animal health as applied to various species and breeds; design and operation of feeding, housing, and processing facilities; and related issues of safety, logistics, applicable regulations, and supply.”

Apparently you can go to college to be a farmer.

This is my version of a college-educated farmer.

As exhilarating as a life of breeding animals like a trainer in Dragon Warrior Monsters might have been, I can see why Bigner decided to change his line of work after completing his first degree. And thank goodness he did, because stoners everywhere would be sitting around saying, “Bruh, you know what would be so dope right now? Chips that are flavored like an onion ring…”

How are they made?

If you’d like to see how they’re made, here you go:

What flavors are there?

Believe it or not, they come in 4 different flavors: Chile Limon, Flamin’ Hot, Onion & Steakhouse Onion.

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Who knew there were multiple flavors?

There apparently was also a Wasabi flavor that only lasted from 2002-2003, RIP. 

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Pour some out for Wasabi Funyuns.

Who eats these?

I can’t in good conscious not mention the popularity of these chips among the cannabis consumers. And, surprisingly, they have somewhat embraced the role of Funyuns as a “munchie” over at Frito Lay. Now you’re asking me, “How do you know that?” Which leads me to fulfilling my first promise of explaining the whole unicorn strike/last onion on Earth thing.

For reasons that I can only deduce as embracing your target audience, when you enter Funyuns.com you are all of the sudden warped into a tie dye, 1970’s meme-filled vacuum that just reeks of old bong water and VW vans.

According to “The Funyuns Tale” on the site, here is how it went down, “Many moons ago, in a snack kingdom far away…One wayward Unicorn Spark combined with the last wild onion, sending a colorful flavor cloud into the sky…”

It goes on from there, but you get the gist. If my text above doesn’t quite paint the picture, they provided some psychedelic imagery to go with their non-fiction, historically accurate story.

funyuns_website

 It isn’t too difficult based on the vibe of funyuns.com to see that Frito Lay has decided to embrace their popularity among the reef-ripper community.  The site is filled with dad-joke memes and for some reason a raccoon named B-rad makes multiple appearances.

This Complex article seems to agree about Funyuns, by adding them on the list of foods to never eat once you have graduated college. I can’t completely say that I disagree. While technically these are a low calorie snack at just 100 Cal., people might not realize the sodium content in one 3/4 oz. bag. Which leads to my next section.

Are they bad for you?

Sodium is bad for you. I’ll just leave this here:

aplle_calories

What else does the internet have to offer on Funyuns?

I’m so glad you asked. Welcome to stop #2 on our rabbit hole route.

First, there is this guy who does makeup to match different snack items. And you guessed it, he did a Funyun iteration.

There is also this unlucky (lucky?) Subway customer who opened a bag of Funyun (singular) and got just one onion flavored ring:

Next, there is this cruel individual who ripped the heart out of the every 4/20 fan out there by writing this satirical article about a McDonald’s x Funyun collab. In the article, he also continued to tease a McRib Fritos Chalupa as well as a Filet-O-Fish Cheetos Burrito – each sounding equally disgusting in their own right.

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And, of course, a video of a slightly annoying lady in an outdated kitchen showing you how to make Funyuns at home – because how else could I end this incredibly educational blog?

Have more to add? Leave it in comments or say what the Funyun is up on twitter @carterseverns.

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