How 2 Inventions Allowed Nachos To Become A Ballpark Classic

Nachos, a simple tasty and satisfying snack that is so often found at ballparks, gained its popularity nearly five decades ago. However, it wasn't until one Texan utilized two different inventions that this refreshment was able to be enjoyed at ballgames. 

The dish we now know as nachos began as "Nachos Especiales," and they were first invented by Ignacio "Nacho" Anaya of Piedras Negras, Mexico, according to First We Feast. The story goes that when a group of Army wives came to the Victory Club restaurant, they were served a plate of tortilla chips with melted cheese and jalapeños. Anaya, who was working as the maître d', assembled the quick dish when he couldn't locate the restaurant's chef, said Huffington Post.

In 1954, a recipe for Anaya's "Nachos Especiales" appeared in "St. Anne's Cookbook," published by the Church of the Redeemer in Eagle Pass, Texas, per First We Feast. These cheesy chips continued to gain in popularity throughout the United States, but two aspects of nachos held them back from being a ballpark food: the cheese had a short shelf-life, and the cheese needed to be heated up so it would melt.

Nacho average cheese

Two decades after the crunchy snack first started to gain in popularity in the U.S., Frank Liberto took them to the next level. During the 1970s, Liberto pioneered a new way for nachos to be cheesed that would stay melted without a heat source and had an extended shelf life, according to the New York Times. To serve this cheese on the tortilla chips, Liberto also utilized a pump that could disperse the sauce quickly.

In 1976, Liberto via his family's business, Liberto Specialty Co., took his inventions to a Texas Rangers baseball game, according to It wasn't until ABC journalist Howard Cosell spoke up about the snack during a Monday Night Football broadcast in 1977, that the spotlight was shined on the delectable dish. When Disney animators created videos with three characters (Nacho, Rico, and Pepe), nachos skyrocketed in popularity beyond the ballpark to movie theaters and special events. Today many people simply refer to it as nacho cheese, but the product that Liberto first made was called Ricos cheese sauce, per First We Feast.

Ironically, Liberto died at age 84 on Nov. 5, 2017, the day before National Nacho Day, according to the San Antonio Current. He may be gone, but his legacy certainly lives on at every ballgame.