On Monday, PepsiCo. got lambasted for a potential new product that the Internet dubbed the “Lady Dorito”—that is, a chip designed specifically for women.
Of course, as Kendall Jenner can attest to, this wouldn’t be the first time that the brand has been called out for a marketing scheme that was perceived as offensive and tone deaf. But unlike that infamously botched Pepsi ad, a product with this name doesn’t actually exist, and likely never will, thankfully.
The controversy stemmed from an interview with PepsiCo. CEO Indra Nooyi on the Freakonomics podcast, which often focuses on demographic trends as they relate to the economy. The interviewer, Stephen Dubner, posed the question: “I understand that men and women eat chips very differently. Can you tell us the differences?”
Nooyi responded that “[…]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,” noting that “women would love to do the same, but they don’t.”
She added: “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.”
Broad-sweeping generalizations about gender behavior are, of course, problematic, but again, the question was set up by Dubner. It is also not untrue that women are likely more self-conscious about their eating habits largely due to societal conditioning, a point which Nooyi alludes to in her response, and Twitter user @leeflower makes very eloquently.
And while Nooyi—one of only 32 women CEOs of a Fortune 500 company and one of two women of color on the list—suffered from an unfortunately blunt choice of words, she would not be the first executive to market differently toward women and men, and certainly won’t be the last. Further, multiple stories on the subject misquoted Nooyi as having used the term “lady-friendly,” which she never did.
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In a statement to PEOPLE, PepsiCo says that “the reporting on a specific Doritos product for female consumers is inaccurate.”
“We already have Doritos for women–they’re called Doritos, and they’re enjoyed by millions of people every day.” They added: “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.”
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So yes, while it was a fun field day on Twitter, we are unlikely to see actual “Lady Doritos” on store shelves at any point in the future. Also, crunching loudly and licking your fingers in public is gross, and more men should stop doing it.