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Tortilla Chips & Salsa

Texas State Snack

Traditional tortilla chips and salsa public domain photo courtesy PD Tortilla Chips and Salsa.

Official State Snack of Texas

Tortilla chips and salsa were designated the official state snack of Texas in 2003. Tortilla chips and salsa are deeply rooted in Texas tradition. All State Foods & Beverages

"Salsa” is the Spanish word for sauce; in southwestern cooking, it refers to a relish or condiment that accompanies a meal - a mixture of chopped vegetables (usually including onions, peppers, tomatoes), and seasonings (particularly garlic and cilantro) that may be raw or cooked.

The primary ingredients used to make tortilla chips and salsa have nourished the people of Texas for centuries; corn, peppers, and tomatoes are all foods that originated in the western hemisphere and were being cultivated by native Americans along the Rio Grande when the Spaniards (who introduced onions to the New World) arrived.

The first tortillas were made with dried, ground kernels of native corn - invented by a peasant for his hungry king in ancient times (according to Mayan legend). Native Mexicans commonly use tortillas as eating utensils. "Cowpokes" of the Old West also filled them with meat or other foods as a convenient way to eat around the campfire.

Traditionally grilled on earthenware utensils, tortillas are a flat, unleavened bread, often filled or stuffed with meat, frijoles (beans), or other ingredients. The word 'tortilla' was given by Spanish conquistators. Tortillas are used to make enchiladas, tacos, and many other popular Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes. When wheat flour became readily available in the 1930s, flour tortillas began to replace the corn tortilla in Southwestern kitchens (because they are easier to make). Hand-made corn tortillas have become a rare treat.


WHEREAS, The State of Texas has customarily recognized a variety of official state symbols as tangible representations of the state's historical and cultural heritage; and

WHEREAS, Like the square dance, the guitar, and the rodeo, tortilla chips and salsa are deeply rooted in Texas tradition and enjoy popularity throughout the length and breadth of the state; stocked in countless kitchens, they are brought out for solitary refreshment and for social gatherings of virtually every description and level of formality; and

WHEREAS, The primary ingredients of chips and salsa have nourished the people of this land for centuries; corn, peppers, and tomatoes all originated in the Western Hemisphere and were being cultivated by Native Americans along the Rio Grande when the Spaniards, who introduced onions to the New World, arrived in Texas; tortillas, developed in prehistoric times by the Indians of Latin America, have likewise long been a staple in parts of the state; and

WHEREAS, In addition to their traditional importance as a foodstuff, peppers, onions, and tomatoes have played a significant role in Texas folk medicine, and their value in fighting illness is being increasingly recognized by modern science; and

WHEREAS, Together with corn, these three plants also play a notable economic role in the state; in recent years, onions have ranked as the number one cash truck crop in Texas, while corn has accounted for about five percent of the state's agricultural economy; nationwide in 2000, Texas ranked 1st in the production of jalapeño peppers, 4th in the production of onions, and 16th in the production of tomatoes, while a 2002 report ranks the state 10th in the production of corn; and

WHEREAS, The importance of these crops in Texas is reflected by such celebrations as the annual Corn Festival in Holland, Hot Pepper Festival in Palestine, and Tomato Festival in Jacksonville, as well as onion festivals in Noonday, Presidio, and Weslaco; salsa itself enjoys a starring role at the Three Rivers Salsa Festival and at other hotly contested competitions in Houston and Austin; and

WHEREAS, Spectacular sales figures underscore what Texans already know: that tortilla chips and salsa enjoy popularity ratings in the stratosphere; moreover, Texas chip and salsa plants now command a major share of their respective national markets; joining the state's oldest and largest salsa manufacturer, which began production in San Antonio in 1947, smaller new salsa firms continue to spring up, often inspired by a cherished family recipe and encouraged by Texans' insatiable demand for this zesty concoction; and

WHEREAS, Folk foods that have become commercial giants, chips and salsa stand out among Texas snacks because of their historic origins and universal appeal; embraced today by Texans of every ethnic background, they constitute a much savored part of our shared cultural identity; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the 78th Legislature of the State of Texas hereby designate tortilla chips and salsa as the official State Snack of Texas.