How Far We’ve Come!

A simple search of the internet will reveal many different spins of when and where the culinary masterpiece known as nachos was created. All generally refer to how in 1943 a group of soldier wives in search of sustenance stopped by the Victory Club restaurant in Piedras Negras after it had closed. The maître d, Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya, whipped up a snack with what he had on hand – cutting tortillas into triangles, covering the triangles with shredded cheddar cheese, and adding sliced jalapenos. After heating them up, he served them to the women who had to know the name of the dish. Quick on his feet, Ignacio responded “Nacho’s especiales.” From there, as legend goes, the name was shortened and the dish became simply known as nachos.

We here at NachoDudes think there is more to the story of the creation of the modern day nacho, because Ignacio’s dish had one major design flaw. It lacked an imperative ingredient of the modern day nacho – crunchy chips. We shudder at the thought of those early nacho consumers picking up a tortilla triangle for the first time and watching all the toppings fall to the plate.  While Ignacio’s contribution to nachos cannot be denied, there are many folks who deserve some credit for the innovation and proliferation of the nacho.

Chicken Nachos, Mamacita’s, Houston, TX

Here are some of the more notable events in our humble opinion (loosely based on things read on the internet):

  • 1500’s – Aztec lords invent salsa by mixing tomatoes with chili peppers, and ground squash seeds. Sadly, Aztec’s lacked chips and could only use the salsa on meat dishes. Nevertheless, without salsa, the world may have never thought to put anything on a tortilla chip.
  • 1922 – The restaurant El Charro claims to have created the tostado. This forefather of the nacho involves a fried tortilla topped with your choice of beef, chicken, beans, salsa, cheese, lettuce, peppers, and tomato. While too bulky for our taste, it does represent the first combination of any type of fried tortilla with toppings that we are aware of.
  • 1943 – The aforementioned Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya serves his Nacho’s especiales. It is well received but the tortillas are flimsy and the dish lacks a crisp crunch.
  • 1954 – Anaya’s original recipe is delivered to the masses in the St. Anne’s Cookbook. Unfortunately, the recipe does not make any improvements to the limp tortilla pieces and probably leads to countless shirts being ruined by spilled toppings.
  • 1950 – 1959 – The word “nachos” starts appearing in the English language and a woman by the name of Carmen Rocha is credited with making nachos in San Antonio, Texas before introducing the dish to Los Angeles at El Cholo Mexican restaurant in 1959.
  • 1940’s to 1960’s – The Carranza family’s El Zarape Tortilla Factory begins making tortillas by machine. The machine has some issues and yields misshapen tortillas. Rebecca Webb Carranza takes a bunch of rejected tortilla pieces home from her family’s owned business, fries them and serves them at a family party. After these first tortilla chips are a hit with her guests, the El Zarape Tortilla Factory begins selling the “Tort Chips” for 10 cents a bag. By the 1960’s, these chips were El Zarape’s main business. On an aside, Ms. Webb Carranza lived to be 98. While there is no medical evidence to support it, we believe a diet filled with tortilla chips had to help her live a long life!
  • 1976 – The great Howard Cosell reportedly comments on a Monday Night Football telecast about a wonderful dish known as “nachos” being served at Arlington Stadium in Arlington, Texas. We can’t verify the rumor that Mr. Cosell spilled nacho cheese on his tie while shoving the chips into his mouth on national T.V.
  • 1980’s – Different versions of Frank Liberto’s ballpark nachos that Cosell raved about in 1976 become a staple in ballparks across the nation.
  • 1990’s – October 21st is established as the International Day of the Nacho. While we feel the nacho should be celebrated every day, it does give the general masses a reason to recognize the nacho.
  • 1998 – NachoDudes meet and share their first plate of nachos.
  • 1998-2013 – NachoDudes conduct intensive research in developing the N.A.C.H.O. ranking system.
  • 2013 – is launched to recognize the advancements made in the culinary art of making nachos and to tell the world where the best nachos can be consumed.
  • 2017 – NEW website is launched, with enhanced graphics and interactivity.