International Day Of Nacho: What’s The Backstory Of This Snack?
Image Credit: Nachos are a crispy Mexican treat.

One can imagine the prominence of a food item when there is a special day dedicated to it every year. Yes, that’s how well-loved nachos are globally. While the fanfare of this tantalising Mexican snack is a known story, what you probably don’t know is the interesting backstory of this yummy treat. Every year, October 21 is celebrated as ‘International Day of the Nacho’, but have we ever tried to decipher the significance of it? Let’s get to it. So, the inventor of nachos died on this day in 1975, and since then October 21 is marked as a tribute to the man and his creation. 

We’re talking about Ignacio Anaya, who was also fondly called ‘Nacho’ by his loved ones. He was the maître d’hôtel (head waiter) at a restaurant in Piedras Negras, a town in Mexico, and has been credited with the invention of the snack. Now, the story of the origin of this Mexican snack dates back to the 1940s, during the time of World War II. A few American women had barged into the Victory Club, and demanded food since they were very hungry. However, it was beyond the restaurant’s operational hours, so there were no cooks available in the kitchen.

These women had travelled all the way from a military base in Eagle Pass just to satiate their hunger. Ignacio took on the challenge to serve these hungry guests at the odd hour. He rushed to the kitchen and looked around for whatever food was available at that time. His eyes spotted some fried corn tortillas chips, and he ended up stacking them on a plate and topping them with all kinds of ingredients available to him. Garnished with loads of Colby cheese, he whipped up a brilliant dish which charmed his guests instantly.

When asked about the name of the dish, Ignacio said whatever came to his mind first and that’s how it began to be known as ‘Nachos Especialies’ or ‘Nachos Specials’. This later came to be known as simply nachos, as we know them today. Eventually, the crunchy, bite-sized chips started entering the restaurant space, featuring on the Mexican-American menus. While some described them as open-faced quesadillas, others simply called them nachos. However, the Colby cheese was a significant part of the entire nacho dish.

Since this cheese was a luxury item that the American government was providing to the families during World War II, there was a sort of exchange or barter at the American and Mexican borders. Interestingly, the idea of having nachos at sports and gaming events or at movie halls was popularised in the US by a man named Frank Liberto. With his invention of a cheddar cheese sauce that could be used without refrigeration and would remain melted even without heating, nachos topped with cheese became a staple at these recreational places because of their long shelf life and ease of preparation.

Today, you’d find nachos paired with a variety of toppings, ranging from salsa, sour cream, baked beans, and more. Little did Ignacio know that his simple and quick fixture of a night would end up giving the world their most loved crunchy snack - nachos.