Every now and then Food & Think, the edacious blog of Smithsonian Magazine, delves deep into the history of some food thing and the results are usually good. Just a few weeks ago they devoted a column to the history of the kolache in Texas. Today they tackle the history of nachos -- ballpark nachos specifically.
See also: Searching for the Best Nachos in Dallas
It's almost common knowledge that they were invented in Arlington, but the tale of their design is told in great detail in the Smithsonian piece. The snack was loosely based on "Nachos Especiales," a dish created in Piedras Negras, Mexico, and reportedly made with (gasp!) real Wisconsin cheddar.
In 1976, at a Texas Rangers baseball home game, concessionaire Frank Liberto squeezed every last penny of profit he could out of the snack. He diluted the cheese sauce with water to make it dispensable from a pump and added a little juice from canned pickled jalapeños to give it a little kick.
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The results are an easy way for any concession stand to make money fast. Rip open a bag of commodity tortilla chips, depress cheese dispenser, add a few jalapeño slices and collect five bucks. Now they're at movie theaters, state fairs, sporting events, convenience stores and everywhere businesses are looking to get customers in and out as quickly a possible. And yet, they are somehow delicious.