Tortilla chip

A tortilla chip is a snack food made from corn tortillas, which are cut into triangles and then fried or baked (alternatively they may be discs pressed out of corn masa then fried or baked). Corn tortillas are made of nixtamalized corn, vegetable oil, salt and water. Although first mass-produced commercially in the U.S. in Los Angeles in the late 1940s,[1] tortilla chips grew out of Mexican cuisine, where similar items were well known, such as totopos and tostadas.[2]

Tortilla chip
A plate of tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole
TypeSnack food
Place of originUnited States
Main ingredientsTortillas (corn, vegetable oil, salt, water)
A young girl eating tortilla chips with pico de gallo

Though usually made of yellow corn, they can also be made of white, blue, or red corn. Tortilla chips intended to be dipped are typically only lightly salted, while others may be seasoned with a variety of flavors.


The triangle-shaped tortilla chip was popularized by Rebecca Webb Carranza in the 1940s as a way to make use of misshapen tortillas rejected from the automated tortilla manufacturing machine that she and her husband used at their Mexican delicatessen and tortilla factory in southwest Los Angeles. Carranza found that the discarded tortillas, cut into triangles and fried, were a popular snack, and she sold them for a dime a bag at the El Zarape Tortilla Factory. In 1994, Carranza received the Golden Tortilla award for her contribution to the Mexican food industry.[1]

Tex-Mex and Mexican cuisine

Tortilla chips are a popular appetizer in Tex-Mex and Mexican restaurants in the U.S. and elsewhere. Their popularity outside of California saw a steady rise in the late 1970s when they began to compete with corn chips, the dipping chip of choice during the first three quarters of the 20th century. They are typically served with a dip, such as salsa, chile con queso, or guacamole. When not served with a dip, the chips are often seasoned with herbs and spices. Although they are now available worldwide, the United States is one of the main markets for tortilla chips. Commercial brand names for tortilla chips include Phileas Fogg snacks, Tostitos, Doritos, and Don Tacos (in Japan).

A more elaborate dish utilizing tortilla chips is nachos. First created in 1943, nachos were invented in Mexico. "They originated in the small Mexican town of Piedras Negras in 1943 and were invented by restaurateur Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya." Nachos are tortilla chips served with melted or shredded cheese, although often other toppings are added or substituted, such as meat, salsa (such as pico de gallo), refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, diced onions, olives, and pickled jalapeños. More elaborate nachos are often baked for a short period of time to warm the tortillas and melt shredded cheese.

Corn chips

A similar fried corn snack is the corn chip, which is not made from a tortilla, but from corn meal which has been processed into a particular shape, typically a small scoop. Fritos are an example of this.[3] The principal difference between the corn in tortilla and corn chips is that the corn in a tortilla chip has undergone a process known as nixtamalization, which involves processing the raw corn with quicklime.[4]

See also


  1. Associated Press (24 February 2006). "Rebecca Carranza; a pioneer of the tortilla chip; 98". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Union-Tribune Publishing Co. Archived from the original on 21 January 2009. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  2. Arnold, Oren (10 April 1939). "Romance Inc. - Chapter 40". Painesville Telegraph. p. 8. Retrieved 18 July 2011. Tostados - crusty toasted tortillas - were served [to] them.
  3. "The Birth of the Frito". National Public Radio. 18 October 2007. Retrieved 2 August 2008.
  4. Caballero-Briones, F.; et al. (June 2000). "Recent advances on the understanding of the nixtamalization process". Superficies y Vacío. Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico: Sociedad Mexicana de Ciencia de Superficies y de Vacío. 10: 20–24. ISSN 1665-3521.
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