The first (and only) time I ever ate Frito-Lay’s Funyuns was when I was 9 years old at sleepaway camp, and my primary memory of them was one of confusion and disappointment. They looked like onion rings, and smelled like onion rings, but turned out to be quasi-stale-tasting onion-less rings with a sort-of oniony flavor and not much else to like. What the heck are these things?
Invented by Frito-Lay employee George Bigner and introduced to the public in 1969, Funyuns are basically just made of fried cornmeal, flavored primarily with onion powder and MSG. They’re made by pushing cornmeal dough through a specially-shaped extruder and onto a conveyor belt, and then they’re fried in 300-degree corn oil for one minute before being tumbled with seasonings and bagged (you can watch the whole process here). There’s no actual onion in the dough, just some onion powder and “natural toasted onion flavor” in the seasoning blend.
Like Cheetos, Doritos, and other junky snacks, Funyuns are just cornmeal that’s been shaped, fried, and seasoned. Tasty!