The Origin of the Tortilla Chip

Posted by Chad Stamm on Dec 20, 2018 11:34:25 AM

In Food Supply, Food Products, Food Manufacturing


The proliferation of Mexican-inspired foods in American culture is only accelerating.

According to the Snack Food Association, tortillas have been outselling hotdog and hamburger buns at grocery stores since 2010, and tortilla chips are selling at a faster pace than potato chips. In NFL and Major League Baseball stadiums, everyone serves nachos, which is the third largest concession seller after only popcorn and soda. That's right. More people enjoy nachos during a trip to the ballpark for America's pastime than hotdogs.

We know tortillas are popular, but how did their rise to fame happen?

As the story goes, the triangle shaped tortilla chips we love with salsa, guacamole, and queso dip gained prominence in the 1940s, when Rebecca Webb Carranza decided to take the rejected tortillas from her company's automated manufacturing line and repurpose them.

As a way to reduce food waste and create new revenue streams in her Mexican deli and tortilla factory near Los Angeles, she decided to cut the rejects into triangles and fry them, selling them in dime bags at the El Zarape Tortilla Factory.

In 1994, Carranza received the Golden Tortilla award for her contribution to the Mexican food industry, and in 2006, she passed away at the age of 98.

Tortilla chips are such an engrained part of our lives, from the free appetizer before dinner to Super Bowl parties, but the really do have a point of origin in American culture, and know you know what it is.


[Sign up to receive The Digest on the first of each month.]