In a sad piece of news, Todd Mills, the visionary who helped in creating the Doritos Locos Taco, has passed away after long battle with brain cancer. Luckily his legacy will live on in the stomachs of millions thanks to the billion dollar food craze. From USA Today:
Mills said her husband often made taco salads using Doritos and frequently said someone should make taco shells out of the cheesy snack.
In 2009, Mills wrote a letter to Frito-Lay pitching the idea. Their response was, “Thanks, but no thanks,” Ginger Mills said.
After receiving the rejection letter, he vowed to pursue the idea “from the grass-roots level,” said longtime friend Jimmy Looney, who served in the Air Force with Mills.
Mills started the Facebook page “Taco Shells from Doritos Movement” in 2009, encouraging followers to “tell Frito-Lay that we demand nacho cheesy taco shells!”
On the page, Mills posted photoshopped images of well known figures including Albert Einstein with a cheesy taco shell in a thought bubble, Steve Jobs holding a Macbook with a cheesy taco shell on the screen and Chuck Norris doing a karate kick while holding a cheesy taco shell. The page has more than 4,200 likes.
Taco Bell of course came around to Mills way of thinking and history was made.
In 2012, Todd Mills received a phone call from Taco Bell. The company was developing the prized creation — calling it the Doritos Locos Tacos — and wanted to fly Todd out to its test kitchen in California. He was among the first people to try the new product.
In an e-mailed statement, Taco Bell called Mills a “true friend” of the company. “We are honored to have had his support through the Doritos for Taco Shells Movement on Facebook, and we admire his strength and optimism during his recent battle. Our thoughts and sympathies are with Todd’s family during this time,” according to Taco Bell’s statement.
The experimental combination has paid off for Taco Bell. This year, the company said it exceeded $1 billion in sales of the Doritos Locos Tacos, according to The Huffington Post. (via)
I think the most telling thing out of all of this is that Mills took no compensation for his idea. He was just happy to see it come to fruition. He seemed like a genuine guy who had a small dream come true.
Of course, the cynic inside of me wants to point out that even though Taco Bell has made over $1 billion off of the idea, they only donated $1,000 to a fund to cover Mills’ cancer treatment.