February 24 is National Tortilla Chip Day! Tortilla chips are a popular snack item, typically made from cutting tortillas into a wedge shape and frying them. They are often a counterpart to salsa, queso, guacamole, and other delicious dips.
Though tortilla chips have long been a Mexican snack more well-known there as tostados, the snack was first mass produced and brought into the public eye in Los Angeles in the late 1940s. Rebecca Webb Carranza was the owner of El Zarape Tortilla Factory in the ’40s, and she first made the chips from tortillas that were misshaped and rejected from the automatic tortilla-making machines in her factory. She began cutting the misshapen pieces into triangles, frying them, and selling bags for a dime. The fried snack slowly began to catch on and by the 1970s, it became a major competitor for corn chips, which had previously been the most popular dipping chip.
Not only are tortilla chips often used for dipping, but they are also used to make more elaborate dishes like nachos. Nachos were first created by Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya in 1943. Today tortilla chips are a quintessential item in Tex-Mex and Mexican restaurants, and the United States remain their largest producer.
Check out this recipe to make your own tortilla chips at home. If you’d rather eat tortilla chips without an accompanying dip, you can spice them up by seasoning them with various herbs and spices.
Happy National Tortilla Chip Day!