5 Pioneering Snack Creators to Remember on National Tortilla Chip Day

Lead Photo: Art by Alan Lopez for Remezcla
Art by Alan Lopez for Remezcla
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In celebration of National Tortilla Chip Day (Feb. 24), we’re looking back to the woman who made the salty snack popular in the late 1940s, Rebecca Carranza. We’re also giving props to some of the other snack pioneers who have given us some mouthwatering munchies over the last few decades.

The triangle-shaped tortilla chip made out of fried or baked corn masa was mass produced by Carranza, who owned a Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles in the 1940s. Instead of tossing out the irregular tortillas that came out of the tortilla machine, Carranza, who was originally from Durango, Mexico, decided to cut them into triangles, fry them up and sell them to customers at her restaurant and at El Zarape Tortilla Factory, which her and her husband Mario also owned.

In 1994, Carranza received the Golden Tortilla Award for being an innovator in the Mexican food industry. Carranza died in 2006 at the age of 98. Along with her tortilla chips, her legacy included two sons, 12 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.

As you get ready to devour a bag of tortilla chips today in honor of the appetizing appetizers, take a look at these other five groundbreaking snack creators who have given us a lot to crunch about.

Ignacio Anaya – Nachos

The Mexican executive chef and restaurateur, whose nickname was Nacho, was born in Chihuahua, Mexico in 1895. He created nachos in 1940 when a customer at the Victory Club asked for a unique snack. Anaya went into the kitchen and combined tortilla chips, melted cheese and pickled jalapeños and served it to her as “Nacho’s Special.”

Richard Montañez - Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

Montañez was hired as a janitor for the Frito-Lay company at its Rancho Cucamonga factory at the age of 18. Years later, when a machine in the factory broke down and left a batch of unflavored Cheetos, he took some home and seasoned them with the same spices one would use to flavor Mexican street corn. He was invited to pitch the idea to the CEO of the company as a snack targeting the Latino market. Flamin’ Hot Cheetos was approved for a national release in 1992. Montañez’s story is now being made into a movie, Flamin’ Hot, directed by Eva Longoria.

Morgan Sanchez - Takis

According to, Takis is said to have been invented by someone named Morgan Sanchez, although there is little online to confirm the claim. The spicy snack was invented in Mexico in 1999 and introduced to American audiences in 2006.

Gustavo Olguin - Fritos

The soccer coach from Oaxaca, Mexico, made his corn chips from corn masa and used a converted potato ricer to produce them. He sold the recipe for his snack to entrepreneur Charles Elmer “C.E.” Doolin who founded Frito-Lays.

Archie West - Doritos

West isn’t Latino, but we have to give him a lot of credit for making one of the most popular cheesy chips and for long-lasting orange fingers. Next time you’re at a Super Bowl party, eat a couple of Doritos–no matter what flavor–for Archie.