What do you grab from the chip aisle when you don’t feel like potato chips, or Cheetos, or popcorn, or Chex-Mix, or mixed nuts? You go for the Funyuns of course! Funyuns are the sneaky snacks that most people forget exist until they buy a mult-pack of fun-sized chips that includes Funyuns, then they eat one and go, “Oh yeah, these are pretty good! I like Funyuns!” Personally, I think onions are already fun, so Funyuns are simply crazy to me! These crispy, onion-flavored bites invite so many questions. Are Funyuns chips? Who invented Funyuns? Are vegan and gluten-free? How are Funyuns made? Let’s peel back the layers of this onion and find out!
How are Funyuns made?
Funyuns are not actual onions. They are made of cornmeal dough. The cornmeal is pushed through a machine called an extruder, which creates a ring shape. The extruder also heats the mix as it makes its way through, and forces it into a lower atmospheric pressure chamber which makes the dough puff up like popcorn. The cornmeal mix and extruder process is very similar to how Cheetos are made.
The rings of dough are then fried for one minute in 300° corn oil, then tumbled with a seasoning containing monosodium glutamate, garlic powder, onion powder, and “natural toasted onion flavor,” among others. The Funyuns are inspected to make sure they are uniform, then bagged up and sent off to be devoured. Wait, there’s no actual onions in those Funyuns. Just onion powder and onion flavoring. Next thing you’ll be telling me there’s no actual onions in onion rings. But I know there are! I’ve seen them when I eat off the fried crust!
Are Funyuns vegan? Are Funyuns gluten free?
There is some buttermilk in the mix, so Funyuns are not vegan. While Funyuns themselves do not contain gluten, they are made on machines that make gluten-full products, so they are not considered gluten-free.
Who invented Funyuns?
Funyuns were invented by a Frito-Lay employee named George Bigner. The onion-y snacks hit the stores in 1969. Originally, they were pitched with the name OnYums, but it turned out that name was already taken. OnYums are still sold; they seem like a knock-off Funyun that’s made for dollar stores, but the lesser known snack was actually first. Also, Funyuns have always been spelled the same way. There’s some Mandela effect dorks who swear they used to be spelled “Funions.” Do not try to rewrite Funyon history!
So, are Funyuns chips?
Well, they are sold on the chip aisle and they sometimes come in those multi-chip party packs. But technically, no, Funyuns are not chips. Potato chips are thinly sliced potatoes. Tortilla chips are made from corn tortillas. Funyuns are a cornmeal mix, just like Cheetos. They are close to Fritos, which are made of corn and go through an extruder. Funyuns and Cheetos are both chip-adjacent, but not quite chips. Just like me. Maybe someday though, we’ll all work hard and make the leap to full-fledged chips!