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Funyuns, Zatarain’s, and Dream Whip

Funyuns, Zatarain’s and Dream Whip.

Wait. What?

I can’t imagine that these three things together have any relevance in your world. They don’t sound like they’d have any relevance to each other, for that matter.


It is weird, unless you happen to be in my family. You’d know that growing up in my house presented a great variety of wildly unrelated weird things. Freeze-dried shrimp is another one that comes to mind.

My dad, you see, was a chef and food technologist. He spent decades creating amazing products and ensuring the quality of many others.

One of the first companies Dad worked for was Jell-O and with that came Dream Whip. A non-dairy dessert miracle. After that, he moved on to Frito-Lay where Funyuns came into our collective lives! He developed the yummy seasoning that make Funyuns amazing and also that bean dip that comes in the crazy little can. Funyuns and Frito-Lay Bean Dip were staples in our snack bag whenever we packed up the station wagon for family road trips.

Soon came Ro-Tel Foods down in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. No, he didn’t create the famous canned tomatoes, but while he was working there he figured out that a can of those tomatoes mixed with Velveeta was a darn good combination! Yep, you know the one I’m talking about. You’re probably eating some right now!

Once we made it back to Louisiana, Dad went to work for Zatarain’s, added to and improved their product line, and the rest is history.

He was very humble about his accomplishments. He enjoyed friendships with some big wigs in the food industry, but to him, folks were just folks no matter who they were.  Dad was a research chef, much like his friend Warren Leruth. (Unfamiliar with Chef Leruth? A foodie would be well-served to Google this pioneer.) He shined in both the back and the front of the house where ever he went.

We’re so proud of all of this, but nothing can hold a candle to the incredible things he did as a husband and father.

As we reach the one-year mark without Dad, I think we’re all doing a little better, but still not to the point where ‘how are you doing’ can honestly be answered. It is a long process. Who knew? The litany of firsts we’ve been through this year have be challenging, but not insurmountable. We faced them together and alone. We grieved and we celebrated. We’ve laughed and we’ve cried. We’ve also likely not settled into the ‘new way’, yet.

The impact of losing this amazing man from our lives still takes my breath away, albeit in waves.  Nonetheless, a gut punch with each unexpected memory.  I’m so happy to have those memories, though.  Every single one.  

Especially the Funyuns!


Love you, Dad, and I miss you every day.