Let no one say Frito-Lay products don’t pack an olfactory punch. A mere whiff of the famous bean dip, for example, launches me into a Proustian reverie of lazy weekends, a football game on the console, me on the couch with a book, and Dad in the recliner with a can of Miller Lite, a tin of bean dip, and a bag of Fritos. Never mind that I hated football, and I thought the pickly-smelling, slightly congealed brown sludge was kind of gross (I hated beans too). I’d just bury my wrinkled nose in my gothic romance and try to tune out the Dallas Cowboys rudely carrying on in the background.

Alas, time flies, with teenage convictions on board. I now find the ambient noise of televised football supremely comforting. And wouldn’t you know, I’ve come to look anew upon that Fancy Feast–style can of salty refritos spiked with fermented chiles; introduced in 1956, Fritos Brand Jalapeño Bean Dip was enthusiastically marketed to adventure-starved taste buds, a party in a can to take on the road (“Goes Great Outdoors!”) or employ at home for “dangerously exciting hors d’oeuvres.” I do remain wary of beans, but I think Frito-Lay has the right idea: heavily seasoned mashed-up pintos are indeed “wild with flavor.” And though the original needs no improvement, it’s fun to make your own. How hard can it bean?

Bean dip recipe

Bean Dip

A super-duper scooper.


  • 1 can refried beans
  • 6 to 8 pickled jalapeño nacho slices, or to taste (I like Mrs. Renfro’s)
  • 1 tablespoon brine from the jalapeño jar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon Gebhardt-style chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin


  • Dump everything into a food processor and whir it up till smooth.
  • Serve with Fritos.