How a Mexican snack became an American staple

As a non-sports aficionado, my attraction to Super Bowl festivities has been solely food focused. So naturally, I noticed how potato chips have taken less and less space on the snack table to make room for tortilla chips and guacamole.

Although potato chips continue to be the top-selling salted snack in terms of pounds sold, tortilla chips have been increasing in sales at a faster pace than potato chips, especially during this time of year, according to Tom Dempsey, CEO of the Snack Food Association.

And, it’s not just tortilla chips selling at such high rates either.
Make homemade tortilla chips

Tortillas – not the chips but the round flat breads used to wrap burritos – have been outselling hamburger and hot dog buns at supermarkets and retail food stories since 2010.

And salsa has been the new ketchup since 2008, according Jim Kabbani, CEO of the Tortilla Industry Association.

One of the factors that contributes to that growth is immigration. As the Latino population grows, so will the variety of foods that cater to them. Especially since the Mexican-American population makes up the largest Hispanic group in the United States.

Another factor that plays into the growth is that non-Hispanics have become more adventurous eaters, and companies want to cater to that, Kabbani said.

While Mexican food in the United States has become ubiquitously American as apple pie, the backstory of how the crispy golden corn chip became the go-to snack chip hasn’t really been told.

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