For some reason, the gender of our products, even the most unnecessary of products, matters to some people. And, leaving aside the absurdity of “brogurt” and pink tool kits, it can make sense… to a point. Women’s razors tend to have more surface area than men’s because women are shaving less sharply angular sections of skin, for example.
But these “Doritos for women” that everyone is buzzing about, are they really a thing? Not quite. At least not the way the story is being told so far. If you believe the headlines, we’re just a few short weeks away from Slim Ranch Doritos with pink bags:
As you might have guessed from the lack of august journalistic bodies firing up those headlines, there’s a bit more going on here. The source of these quotes is a podcast from Freakonomics called The Secret Life of CEOs where PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi was interviewed about what it takes to sell snack food to a world increasingly giving chips and cookies a hard pass due to health concerns. The full podcast is decidedly worth a listen on its own merits, but the Doritos bit, it turns out, is about gender in a very different way:
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 I think 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. [We ask:] ‘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?
In other words, it’s not really “Lady Doritos” so much as “Women are hyper-aware of how they eat in a way that men don’t have to be, so we have to adjust our product for that.” That’s a legit and important gender issue. You don’t have to go very far to find women discussing some horrifying stories about eating in public at all, while a dude can chomp an entire Costco size bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos without ever closing his mouth and nobody will flinch.
Whether or not PepsiCo should cater to this instead of, say, launching an ad campaign encouraging women to rub their cheese-encrusted hands on anybody who whines about their snack choices is an entirely separate question, of course. But considering how people perceive women eating and drinking things, this is a problem that perhaps not even Pepsi can solve.
(source: Uproxx / image: Shutterstock)