Today’s tip is to make Cinco de Mayo (and any celebration) more colorful with tri-color taco chips.
Some brands sell them in mixed-color bags. Or you can buy your favorite brand in different colors and mix them yourself.
Tortilla chips, such a popular snack food and dip holder, is a relatively new Tex-Mex food, created in 1940s Los Angeles.
THE HISTORY OF TORTILLA CHIPS
Rebecca Webb Carranza, a Mexican delicatessen owner born in Durango, Mexico, owned a deli serving Mexican customers in Los Angeles.
The deli sold fresh tortillas daily. On visits the El Zarape Tortilla Factory in Long Beach, which she also owned, she observed the daily waste of misshapen tortillas and leftover dough that were discarded.
She set out to do something with the discarded tortillas.
According to the Boston Globe, for a family party in the late 1940s, Ms. Carranza cut some of the discarded tortillas into triangles and fried them into a delicious, crunchy snack.
A hit with the relatives, she soon was selling them for a dime a bag at her delicatessen, and at the factory that made them for her in southwest Los Angeles.
From Handmade To Conveyor Belt
Tortillas met the machine age in the late 1940s. The El Zarape Tortilla Factory was among the first to automate the production of tortillas, acquiring a tortilla-making machine in 1947.
Tortillas poured off the conveyor belt more than 12 times faster than they could be made by hand.
At first many, came out bent or misshapen, recalled decades later, and were thrown away. So we can thank tortilla machinery for the existence of taco chips.
The chips Ms. Carranza created were initially called tostadas, from the Spanish word for toasted.
Tortilla chips became a wild success among her customers. In addition to snacking from the bag, they were used with Mexican dips such as guacamole and salsa, and even with refried beans.
By the 1960s, the snack chips, packaged as Tortills Chips, were distributed up and down the West Coast by El Zarape, and had evolved into El Zarape’s primary business.
The product came to the notice of Frito-Lay, which began making their a mass-market version of the crunchy triangles. Soon, other manufacturers got into the act.
She turned her tortilla chip business over to her husband when they divorced in 1951. But by 1967, El Zarape was forced out of business by competition the superior marketing clout of Doritos and Fritos.
Ms. Carranza was among the 20 Tex-Mex industry innovators honored with the Golden Tortilla Award, which was given in 1994 and 1995 by Azteca Milling of Irving, Texas.
Ms. Carranza lived to the old age of 98 in Phoenix, where she had moved after retirement to be near her sons, 12 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and 2 two great-great-grandchildren.
The friends of all her descendants can be happy that their abuela invented tortilla chips.
It’s a nice story to share with a glass of beer and tortilla chips.