Anyone who has visited Myrtle Beach’s Nacho Hippo knows that we have an affinity for tortilla chips and salsa. It is not hard to understand why. Who doesn’t like freshly chopped vegetables piled high on a freshly made tortilla chip? Chips and Salsa” have been a staple in American homes and restaurants for many years. It is even the official state snack of Texas. In this month’s blog, we take a look at where chips and salsa come from and some history behind them.

It is pretty easy to trace the origins of salsa back to the times of the Aztecs, Incas, and Mayan people. Native Central and American people created their versions using tomatoes, chilies, and squash. There are many different types of Salsa.

  • Salsa Roja
    • Made from tomatoes, chilies, onions, garlic, peppers, and cilantro.
  • Salsa cruda
    • Also known as Pico de Gallo.
    • Made from tomatoes, lime juice, chili peppers, onions, cilantro, and other coarsely chopped ingredients.
  • Salsa verde
    • Made from tomatillos or green tomatoes.
  • Salsa negra
    • Made from dried chilies, oil, and garlic.
  • Salsa taquera
    • Made from tomato paste.
  • Guacamole
    • Made from avocados.
    • Chipotle salsa
      • Smoked jalapeno chili peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and spices
    • Mango salsa
      • Made with mangoes and several other ingredients. 

Even with all the different types of salsas that could be found far into the past, the “official discovery” of salsa is credited to the Spanish conquerors in the 1500s. Alonso de Molia, a Spanish priest and missionary, is credited with coining the name “salsa” in 1571.

Salsa gained popularity in the United States in the 60s and 70s. (The dance became popular at about the same time) Salsa became so popular that sales of the flavorful condiment overtook ketchup. As the popularity continued to skyrocket, the State of Texas designated chips and salsa to be the “State Snack” in 2003.

What about the tortilla chip? While the modern-day tortilla chip is purely American, the concept does come from Latin America. The Aztec Indians are credited with creating the first corn tortillas. Fast forward several hundred years and Americans began mas producing what we now call Tortillas chips in the Los Angeles area in the 1940s. Restaurants were using large quantities of these chips daily so a well-known chip manufacturing company decided to take advantage of the demand and began to distribute them nationwide. As the Hispanic and Latino populations grew and spread through the United States, the popularity and demand increased as well. You can now find entire sections at the grocery store dedicated to different types of tortilla chips.

Chips and Salsa have become so popular that in 1991, salsa sales surpassed Ketchup sales, and tortillas passed Hamburger and Hotdog bun sales in 2010. This is partially driven by the grown of the Hispanic and Latino population in the united states, but these foods have become increasingly popular with all Americas over the years. Today, one could argue that chips and salsa have become ubiquitously American as apple pie and ice cream.

At Nacho Hippo we have several types of salsas for you to sample. The Fire-roasted salsa is your typical salsa roja. Our tomatillo salsa is a salsa verde. Our guacamole salsa is more of a dip. However, our Mango habanero salsa and pineapple salsa are in a league of their own and you have to try them to truly appreciate how great they taste. You can order them as a sampler, get them on certain items, or have them added to your nachos. All of them taste great on our freshly made tortillas chips.

At Nacho Hippo we know a thing or two about Chips and Salsa and we are sure to have one that will pique your interest. Next time you’re in the Grand Strand, stop on by and give some a try!