National Corn Chip Day
National Corn Chip Day: A Look at the History of the Popular Snack of Mexican Heritage Headline

National Corn Chip Day is here, as it is every January 29th. While foodies prepare their favorite dips and toppings, and marketing specialists try to sell their brands, let's pose the question: What is the story behind this snack of Mexican heritage in the U.S.?"

Corn chips are crispy snacks made from corn dough, commonly found in retail stores. They are distinct from 'Tortilla chips,' which have their own day in the U.S. — celebrated on February 24th for almost any recipe imaginable. Tortilla chips are predominantly served in Mexican, Texan-Mexican, and Latin American restaurants alongside a variety of sauces.

Chef Erika Rios-Morales explained to The Latin Times, "In the United States, corn chips are often seen as a 'party snack,' perfect for setting on the table with some salsa. Restaurants tend to prefer tortilla chips because they offer a different experience due to their thicker texture, which allows them to maintain their 'crunchiness' longer than corn chips."

Corn Chip Day: The Story of This Popular Snack in the U.S.

Chef Erika Rios-Morales explained differences between corn and tortilla chip
Chef Erika Rios-Morales explained to The Latin Times, 'With tortilla chips, you can create many more dishes compared to using corn chips". Mx Granger/Wikipedia

Fritos, a brand created in 1932 that now belongs to the Frito-Lay division of PepsiCo, holds the distinction of being one of the oldest and most widely recognized brands of corn chips in the United States.

It all began with one man: Charles Elmer Doolin, a businessman and farmer born in 1903 in Kansas City, Kansas. Just before turning 30, he sought a new treat to diversify his enterprise located in San Antonio, Texas, as reported by the Texas State Historical Association in an article.

According to the publication, on July 10, 1932, Doolin found an ad in the San Antonio Express offering an original recipe for fried corn chips, also known as "friotes." These snacks had been present in Texan eateries, tracing their origins back to the diverse heritage of Mesoamerican cuisine, which encompasses the southern regions of Mexico and some areas of Central America.

Doolin sampled the corn chips at Olguin's store and decided to purchase the small business, which included an adapted potato ricer and nineteen retail accounts, all for $100.

Doolin immediately began manufacturing corn chips in his mother's kitchen, using the adapted potato ricer he had purchased along with the recipe. Initially, they used pre-made masa bought in bulk, stretching and extruding it through the ricer before cutting the strips into boiling oil. Over the years, the process would become industrialized.

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