There once was a Dorito chip worth $100,000.
This is the story.
Our story starts on TikTok where an Australian teenager posted an image of an exceedingly rare puffy Dorito. Attracting an estimated 5.7 million views, the Dorito wound up on eBay. Although the highest bid was close to $100,000, the family accepted an alternative offer from Doritos for $20,000.
When Twinkies’ maker, Hostess, entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2012, the expected panic (among some of us) resulted in a slew of eBay Twinkie offers that went as high as $200,000. (I found no evidence of bids.) But a Cheeto that resembled a gorilla killed at the Cincinnati Zoo did go for almost $100,000.
Our Bottom Line: The Market
Reading about the Dorito and the Cheeto, I recalled a Tulipomania tale.
In Holland during the 1630s, because tulip bulbs had become a precious commodity, people bought them with the hope that their value would appreciate. As rare varieties appeared and commanded higher prices, bulbs were passed along from one owner to the next, each receiving more money.
It appears, though, that one gentleman was not very careful with his bulbs.
Legend tells us that a tulip speculator offered some breakfast to a seaman who had dropped off a delivery. Sadly, thinking he was eating an onion, the seaman popped a nearby tulip bulb into his mouth. The bulb was worth close to three thousand florins (perhaps $25,000 to $50,000 today).
A puffy Dorito, a gorilla shaped Cheeto, and an onion-like tulip bulb each became valuable because of the market. Defined as a process through which supply and demand determine price and quantity, the market can elevate value to ridiculous heights. The manias that result have been called bubbles because they are filled with air rather than substance.
While one puffy Dorito sale does not equal a bubble, it is always a possibility.
My sources and more: I recommend subscribing to The Hustle email for some quirky stories like today’s viral Dorito. From there, I discovered several articles about collectible snacks, here, and here. And, for more about the Tulipomania and bubbles, do take a look at this past econlife, (Our featured image is a stack of normal Doritos.)