Pop quiz: In what year were nachos created? Answer: 1943, by Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya. Wait, what? 1943???!!!! Humans have been around for one trillion years, and it took us one trillion and forty three years to think of combining tortilla chips and cheese to create this delicious snack? How is that possible?
In case you were wondering, yes, I went to the Wikipedia page for “nachos” to see the year when they were created. Actually, I’d like you to go there, too, before reading the rest of this.
Ok. I love Wikipedia. I love having the ultimate argument-settler at my beck and call. I love reading a book or seeing a movie and then going to Wikipedia to learn more about the subject/filmmaker or author/actors/second associate director/key grip. I love reading the summaries of movies I don’t want to see or books I won’t ever get around to reading. (I highly recommend checking out the summary for this book so you don’t have to read the whole thing.)
I love looking something up on Wikipedia and then by clicking through a series of links finding myself several hours later reading an entry for something entirely unrelated to the first thing I looked up. For example, today I progressed from Nachos to Howard Cosell to the 1972 Summer Olympics to the Munich Massacre to Operation Spring of Youth to Zodiac Boats to the Euronext Paris Stock Exchange. I got from Nachos to the Euronext Paris Stock Exchange by clicking 6 links.
The Wikipedia page for Nachos is an all-around great page. As you’re reading it, it suddenly hits you: somebody created this. Somebody took the time to consult some references to figure out how and where nachos were created, how they were introduced to the broader public, and the different toppings that are occasionally used in making nachos, among other things. “Nachos with an abundance of toppings are sometimes called ‘loaded nachos.’” Somebody actually took the time to write that. And then you realize that somebody went to Google Images and searched “nachos” so they could find a picture of nachos to add some visual flair to the Wikipedia page.
Assuming this page wasn’t created by Big Nacho interests, the person behind this Wikipedia entry went to all this effort just because he or she really loves nachos and wants people to know more about them. I find that equal parts adorable and heartbreaking.
Anyway, it took us far too long to invent nachos. From our perspective today, tortilla chips and melted cheese seem like such an obvious combination, but it took a visionary to actually see what was hiding in plain sight. Sometimes it’s tempting to think that all of the good combinations have already been thought of. I’m certainly glad Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya didn’t feel that way in 1943, and I’m glad that not everyone feels that way now, or else no one would have thought of this:
I can’t, off the top of my head, think of a better combination than the Holiday Season, the modern corporate office party, and Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club; they’re the new tortilla chips and cheese.