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National Tortilla Chip Day

Today we celebrate and eat tortilla chips, chips made from pieces of corn tortillas that are fried or baked until they are crispy. Usually made from white corn, they can be made from blue corn as well; blue corn chips may be a healthier option, with less starch and 20 percent more protein. They may be eaten alone, with many kinds of dips, or as the base of nachos.

Jose Martinez of San Antonio, Texas, is often credited as being their creator. He was the owner of the Tamalina Milling Company and came up with mass-produced masa, a type of corn flour used to make tortillas. He made tortilla chips with some excess masa. Another person credited with the creation of tortilla chips, or with at least bringing them into the public consciousness, is Rebecca Webb Carranza, former president of El Zarpape Tortilla Factory of Los Angeles. In the 1940s, she fried misshapen tortillas and served them at a family party, where they were a hit. She began marketing them to the public, and by the 1960s the company was selling them as "Tort Chips."

Archibald Clark West was vice president of Frito-Lay when he discovered seasoned tortilla chips while on vacation at Disneyland in 1961. He found them at a restaurant that Frito-Lay was sponsoring in the theme park. West decided to bring the chips to a wider audience, and Doritos hit the national market in 1966. Many don't consider Doritos as tortilla chips, but that is what is beneath all the cheese seasoning. They are now the top-ranked tortilla chip brand in the United States.

After Doritos' entry into the market, tortilla chips began gaining more popularity. The rise in popularity of salsa, guacamole, refried beans, and nachos also drove the demand for tortilla chips. In the late 1970s, Frito-Lay made their own unseasoned tortilla chips, Tostitos, which are now the second most popular tortilla chip after Doritos.

How to Observe National Tortilla Chip Day

Celebrate the day by eating tortilla chips; have them with salsa, refried beans, or guacamole, or use them to make nachos. They are a food with great versatility, and can be used for many recipes. They aren't too hard to make on your own either.

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