Tortilla chips are made with yellow, white
and blue corn. Riding the whole grain
nutrition wave, they’re also made in
multigrain blends. Photo courtesy Garden
On the heels (perhaps too close on the heels) of National Corn Chip Day (January 29th), February 24th honors one of America’s favorite snack foods, the tortilla chip.
Surprisingly, tortilla chips are not a traditional Mexican food. They were first popularized and mass produced in southwestern Los Angeles in the late 1940s by Rebecca Webb Carranza, who, with her husband, owned a Mexican deli and tortilla factory.
Misshapen tortillas were rejected from the tortilla manufacturing machine, and she turned them into chips—cutting them into triangles, frying them and selling them in snack-size bags.
Needless to say, they sold well, and became a popular appetizer in Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants in California. They expanded beyond California in a big way in the late 1970s, with the growth of Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants, replacing corn chips like Fritos as America’s favorite corn chip snack.
As we mentioned in our post on corn chips, the main difference between the two types of chip is that a tortilla chip is cut from a whole tortilla, and a corn chip is corn meal processed into a particular shape.