An unusual protest Friday on the campus of the University of Vermont tackled attitudes about gender, using snacks.
In one of the quietest corners of the Bailey-Howe Library, students hoped the noise of a crinkling bag of Doritos and the loud crunches from their chips would echo loudly in the ears of corporate America.
"Chips do not have genders," said Rachel Foster, a UVM junior studying biology.
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Their munch-in, you could call it, was part of a nationwide dust-up between many consumers and Doritos.
The CEO of food giant PepsiCo, which owns the snack brand, recently told an interviewer that men and women eat chips differently. Guys, she said, aren't shy to lick Doritos dust from their fingers and dump Doritos fragments into their mouths.
"Women, I think, would love to do the same, but they don't," Indra Nooyi told WNYC's Freakonomics Radio. "They don't like to crunch too loudly in public. And they don't lick their fingers generously."
Nooyi went on to say the company was considering launching products with more subtle crunches and less finger-staining, that could easily be carried in a purse.
After backlash, PepsiCo assured consumers there would be no so-called "Lady Doritos," tweeting, "We already have Doritos for women – they're called Doritos, and they're loved by millions."
"Females are strong as hell," said Meghan Letizia, a UVM junior studying social work.
Letizia and fellow junior Kyra Fryling, a microbiology major, helped organize the UVM get-together. Their Facebook event post was widely shared, and even drew comments from across the country.
The small group of students that showed up in-person were chewing up Doritos to break down what they called society's unfair expectations: that some seem to think women should be less bold or more retreating than men.
Participants admitted it was a tongue-in-cheek demonstration. Letizia and Fryling said the event started as satire of the CEO's comments, but did end up sending a serious commentary on the way women are sometimes perceived.
"This was a funny way to react, with very real sentiments underneath," said Lily McAdams, a UVM junior studying medical laboratory sciences.
The Doritos-inspired display insisted that it bites to treat women like they can't or shouldn't do as men do.