The snack major said in its patent filing that there was a need to produce pita chips “more efficiently”. Frito-Lay has a pita chip brand called Stacy’s that boasts a line of baked, multigrain and seasoned options.
Frito-Lay’s production process starts with forming the bread dough into a continuous sheet that is baked in an oven, then cooled in around 60 seconds using a dryer or radio frequency oven and cut into chip-size pieces at the end.
Frito-Lay claimed the process overcame a number of technical disadvantages associated with current market methods.
For example, it said the continual process ensured minimal manual handling and significantly shorter cooling times – increasing throughput and minimizing plant footprint.
The method also ensured uniform cutting and therefore reduced wastage, it added.
Beyond these advantages, Frito-Lay also said the method was versatile. “Several steps in the disclosed process may be interchanged in the sequence."
Options: Filled, split, sprayed
The sheeted dough is cut into thin strips before being baked. These dough strips puff up and form a cavity in the center after the cooking stage, resulting in ‘pita tubes’.
There was the option to split the pita tubes using vacuum conveyors, Frito-lay wrote, making it easier to fill with vegetable or fruit-based fillings.
Alternatively, the splitting step could be missed which also has advantages. Opting out of the splitting step can lower operational costs associated with additional vacuum conveyors and production lines and can create two-ply pita chips that give the look and feel of traditional pita loaves.
Frito-Lay earlier patent to ‘snackify’ bread
This is not Frito-Lay’s first patent relating to bread-based snacks. Last year, it filed a patent on a formulation and production method to ‘snackify’ breads – cooking traditional breads into shelf-stable crisp bread snacks.