PepsiCo Responds To Social Media Criticism Of "Lady Friendly" Crisps

Photo: Vesna Jovanovic / EyeEm.

Update: Recently, PepsiCo received major criticism on social media after the company's CEO Indra Nooyi was interviewed on the Freakonomics Podcast and stated that men and women eat Doritos differently. Nooyi also brought up the concept of snacks designed and packaged specifically for women. The interview caused social media to erupt with tweets and videos about the so-called "lady-friendly Doritos," and the reactions have ranged in tone from mocking to outranged.

Because of all the attention this interview got on social media, many consumers believed that Doritos was really planning to launch lady-friendly Doritos, however, that has not actually been confirmed. We reached out to PepsiCo for comment on the controversy, and the company is calling fake news. PepsiCo's official comment on the matter is as follows: "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. 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."

Even if PepsiCo was never planning to release Doritos made specifically for women, the last sentence leads us to believe the company may be working on products designed and marketed specifically with women in mind. One of Nooyi's statements during her interview on Freakonomics supports that hunch. She told host Stephen Dubner, "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." While this doesn't necessarily mean Doritos for women are coming, it does seem like PepsiCo did have something up its sleeve.

This story was originally published on February 5, 2018.

Whenever big brands launch unnecessarily gendered products – with the women's version naturally costing more – they are roundly ridiculed online, so it's a wonder that companies are still at it, bringing out pointless women-only versions of popular products. Did the BIC pens for Her debacle back in 2012 pass them by?

The latest brand facing the ire of women online? Doritos, owned by food and drinks giant PepsiCo, which announced it is to launch new "lady friendly" crisps that don't crunch as loudly or make as much of a mess as the regular version, and can fit in women's dainty little handbags.

In an interview with Freakonomics, the company's CEO, Indra Nooyi, said it will soon be launching "a bunch" of so-called women-friendly snacks, "because women love to carry a snack in their purse" but they consider Doritos' current offering unladylike, which is news to us.

Nooyi said male Doritos-eaters were happy to "lick their fingers with great glee" and "pour the little broken pieces into their mouth [when they reach the bottom of the bag], because they don’t want to lose that taste of the flavour, and the broken chips in the bottom."

Women, however, are apparently too scared to eat crisps in public. "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," Nooyi claimed. "It’s not a male and female as much as 'are there snacks for women that can be designed and packaged differently?"

The new gendered snacks will offer a "low-crunch, the full taste profile," but "not have so much of the flavour stick on their fingers."

A spokesperson from the Women’s Equality Party said the crisps were a classic example of a company perpetuating "tired gender stereotypes" and giving women a raw deal. “No doubt some male consumers will welcome the chance to have a bigger package. But the idea of shrinking products for women, no doubt for the same price, is as old as the Ad Men making these decisions.”

No surprises for guessing how news of the female-friendly crisps went down on social media, either. Even worse than a lead balloon.

Whatever next.

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