The History of Nachos Revealed

After several months of waiting, the veiled mystery of the true origin of the king of all food has been revealed!!! That is correct! The History Channel has finally replayed the history of fast food show they had on a while back. And this time I was ready. I taped the entire show and made notes on everything. When it comes right to it, we have a few select people to thank for those tasty morsels we admire. Whether it be Ignacio Anaya, Frank Liberto, or Howard Cosell, all have made a huge impact on nachos acceptance to the mainstream! Here is an article that tells the tale quite well:

BY KAREN HARAM SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS A fried tostado. Yellow cheese. A slice of jalapeno. So simple. So delicious. So monumental. Back in 1943, Ignacio “Nacho” assembled the first he had no idea that 60 years later, this appetizer would have made his nickname a household word. At that time, the senior Anaya was working at a restaurant owned by Rudolfo De Los Santos, the Victory Club in Piedras Negras, Mexico, just across the border from Eagle Pass, says his son Ignacio Anaya Jr. of Eagle Pass. As Anaya Jr. recalls the story, Mamie Finan and a group of 10 to 12 officers’ wives, whose husbands were stationed at Fort Duncan Air Base, traveled across the border to eat at the Victory Club. When the senior Anaya couldn’t find. the cook, he went into action. “My father was maitre d’ and he said ‘Let me go quick and fix something for you.’ He went into the kitchen, picked up tostados,’ grated some cheese on them – Wisconsin cheese, the round one – and put them under the Salamander (a broiling unit that quickly browns the top of foods). He pulled them out after a couple minutes, all melted, and put on a slice of jalapeno.” – The name of the snack, Anaya Jr. says, came from Finan, who called the plate of cheese- and chile-topped chips Nacho’s Especiales. The name was later shortened to simply “nachos.” Anaya Sr. went on to work at the Moderno, which is still in business today, as well as his own Nacho’s Restaurant in Piedras Negras. In 1960, Anaya Jr. looked into helping his father, who died in 1975, claim ownership of the nacho. “I talked to a lawyer in San Antonio. He said there’s not much you can do after 17 years. It’s in the public domain,” Anaya Jr. says. As a tribute to his father, Anaya Jr. serves as a judge for an annual nacho competition held in Piedras Niegras me second weekend each October. There, nachos are topped with everything from huitlacoche to caviar. But his favorite remains the original nachos like his father made, though he gives high marks to beef and chicken nachos topped with guacamole. “That’s a whole meal,” he says. Anaya Sr.’s granddaughter, Cristina de Los Santos of San Antonio, says her grandfather died when she was in elementary school. But she remembers the leg-end of Nacho, and his nachos, as family lore. “When I was little, my family would always tell me the story,” she says. Better yet, when she would go to her grandfather’s restaurant in Piedras Negras, he would make nachos for her. “I didn’t like cheese. He always made me bean nachos,” she says. De Los Santos says her father, Anaya Jr., like her grandfather, “makes nachos real good. He makes them the original way.” Though she doesn’t have a recipe, she describes the process as follows: Tortilla chips, cut in triangles, are fried in what she calls shortening, not oil. The fried chips are salted, then topped with yellow cheese. The chips are run under the broiler, then topped with a slice of jalapeno. Although she’s a fan of many types of nachos and occasionally orders them when dining out, the ones she gets today taste far different from those her grandfather made. “The chips are different,” she says. “They’re not homemade chips like he used to do. Or maybe it’s the hands of the chef.”

Howard Cosell: Nachos ultimate champion!! Now here is where the story gets even better. The tasty snack becomes a specialty in many restaurants in Southern Texas but is virtually unknown anywhere else on the planet. That is until a gentleman by the name of Frank Liberto decided to try to sell the stuff as a concession stand item! He changed up the recipe by reformulating the cheese to be soft all the time and using simple tortilla chips. He began to sell his new version of nachos in 1977 in Arlington Stadium in Arlington Texas. but what really made the concept take off was a visit by “Monday Night Football” later that year. Before the game started they were offering the product in the reception area where Howard Cosell took a liking to the name. That night and for weeks after, Cossel and the rest of the “Monday Night Football” team worked the word nacho and the product itself in wherever they could! From there on out nachos quickly grew into the massive force they are today!!