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The Hidden History of Nachos: Unveiling the Untold Truth

The Untold Truth About Nachos

Who doesn’t love nachos? This iconic Tex-Mex dish has captured the hearts and taste buds of people around the world. From its humble origins to its rise in popularity, there are many fascinating facts and stories behind the nachos we know and love today. In this article, we’ll delve into the untold truth of nachos, exploring their history, cultural significance, and even some surprising facts you may not have known. So grab a plate of nachos and let’s dig in!

The inventor of nachos: Ignacio Anaya

It’s hard to imagine a world without nachos, but did you know that they’re a relatively recent addition to Tex-Mex cuisine? According to nacho lore, they were invented by a man named Ignacio Anaya during World War II. Anaya, also known as Nacho, was tasked with feeding hungry patrons at a restaurant in Piedras Negras, Mexico. With limited time and resources, he improvised by topping fried tortilla strips with cheese and other ingredients. When asked to name the dish, he simply called it “Nachos Especiales,” after his own nickname. And so nachos were born.

Carmen Rocha and the popularity of nachos in LA

Although nachos had their humble beginnings in Mexico, they didn’t gain widespread popularity until they made their way to Los Angeles. Carmen Rocha, a waitress at El Cholo restaurant, was instrumental in bringing nachos to the masses. Rocha, who grew up eating the dish in San Antonio, began serving her version of nachos to customers. Word of this delicious secret menu item spread quickly, and soon nachos became an official part of El Cholo’s menu. Rocha’s passion for nachos and her influence on their popularity in LA are still remembered today.

Nachos and sports: A Winning Combination

One of the reasons nachos have become a staple at sporting events across the United States can be attributed to Frank Liberto. In 1976, Liberto began serving nachos at a baseball game and made them portable by creating a pumpable cheese product. This cheddar-based cheese sauce, which didn’t require refrigeration, was the perfect addition to any ballpark snack. The popularity of nachos skyrocketed, and they quickly became a fan favorite. Liberto’s cheese formula was so secret that someone was even arrested in 1983 for trying to buy his trade secrets.

Celebrate nachos: Two Official Days

If you’re a nacho lover, you’ll be happy to know that there are two official days dedicated to celebrating this beloved dish. The first is the International Day of the Nacho, which falls on October 21. This day honors the memory of Ignacio Anaya, the inventor of nachos. It’s the perfect opportunity to try international variations of the dish. The second official day is National Nachos Day, which is celebrated on November 6. On this day, you can indulge in nachos piled high with uniquely American flavors. Whether you prefer traditional toppings or adventurous combinations, there’s a nacho recipe for everyone.

The accidental invention of tortilla chips

Tortilla chips are a staple of nachos, but did you know they were an accidental invention? In the 1940s, the El Zarape Tortilla Factory in Los Angeles automated its tortilla-making process, resulting in misshapen and extra tortillas. At a party, the company president decided to fry these discarded tortillas, and they turned into crispy chips. The response was overwhelmingly positive and the chips quickly became a popular snack. Today, tortilla chips are enjoyed not only with nachos, but also as a snack on their own.

The ancient origins of salsa

While tortilla chips are a 20th century creation, salsa has a much longer history. The roots of salsa can be traced back to the Aztecs, who made a condiment from chopped tomatoes, chili peppers, and other ingredients. In fact, salsa is mentioned in ancient Aztec documents that provide insight into their daily life. When you choose salsa for your nachos, you’re enjoying a condiment with a rich history that has been pleasing palates for centuries.

Recreation of Ignacio Anaya’s Original Nachos

If you’re curious about what the original nachos tasted like, you can recreate Ignacio Anaya’s recipe. Making Anaya’s authentic nachos is surprisingly easy. Start by cutting corn tortillas into wedges and frying them until they are crispy chips. Arrange the chips on a baking sheet, sprinkle generously with cheddar cheese, and add jalapeno pepper slices to taste. Bake the nachos until the cheese melts and bubbles, and you’ll have a delicious plate of classic nachos just like Ignacio Anaya made them.

Bottom line

Nachos have come a long way since their accidental creation during World War II. From their invention by Ignacio Anaya to their rise in popularity thanks to people like Carmen Rocha and Frank Liberto, nachos have become a favorite dish enjoyed by people all over the world. Whether you prefer them loaded with toppings or enjoy a simple combination of cheese and chips, nachos offer a versatile and satisfying dining experience. So the next time you indulge in a plate of nachos, take a moment to appreciate the untold truth and rich history behind this iconic Tex-Mex treat.


Nachos were invented in the 1940s by a man named Ignacio Anaya. He improvised a dish by topping fried tortilla strips with cheese and other ingredients, and it quickly became known as “Nachos Especiales”.

Who popularized nachos in Los Angeles?

Carmen Rocha, a waitress at El Cholo restaurant, played a major role in popularizing nachos in Los Angeles. Her version of nachos became a hit with customers and eventually became an official part of the restaurant’s menu.

How did nachos become associated with sporting events?

Frank Liberto introduced nachos to the world of sports when he served them at a baseball game in 1976. He created a pumpable cheese product that didn’t require refrigeration, making it a convenient and delicious snack for stadium-goers.

Are there official days to celebrate nachos?

Yes, there are two official days dedicated to the celebration of nachos. The International Day of the Nacho is celebrated on October 21 in honor of Ignacio Anaya, the inventor of nachos. National Nacho Day is celebrated on November 6 and is an opportunity to indulge in the uniquely American nacho flavors.

What are tortilla chips and how did they come about?

Tortilla chips are crispy chips made from fried or baked corn tortillas. They were an accidental invention when misshapen and oversized tortillas were fried at the El Zarape Tortilla Factory in Los Angeles. The resulting chips became popular and are now a staple of nachos.

What is the history of salsa and its connection to nachos?

Salsa, a condiment commonly enjoyed with nachos, has ancient origins. It can be traced back to the Aztecs, who made a similar sauce from tomatoes, chili peppers, and other ingredients. Salsa has evolved over time and continues to be a popular and flavorful addition to nacho recipes.

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