The Unusual Reason Chips And Salsa Are Special To Texas

When it comes to snacking, many of our favorite treats call upon the time-honored tradition of the combo. Think peanut butter and jelly, hummus and crudités, and crackers and cheese, for example. After all, why stop at just one flavor or texture when you could have two or more rolled into one tasty treat? And there is no snack combo more classic, in our opinion, than chips and salsa. 

Dry, crunchy tortilla chips get a nice moist bath courtesy of salsa, with their saltiness asserting itself against the spiciness of a salsa verde or pico de gallo. The hot, acidic condiment that is used to bathe a variety of foods from tacos to chilaquiles has been prepared across Mesoamerica since pre-Conquest times, according to Twisted Taco. But it wasn't until fairly recently — in the 1940s and 50s — that salsa started to be used as a dip for chips in households across America (via The Austin Chronicle). 

Today, the snack is almost as American as apple pie, a standard freebie at almost any Mexican or Tex-Mex eatery, and a nearly obligatory addition to the Super Bowl refreshments table, per Culture Map. And there's no state in the Union that gets as excited about chips and salsa as Texas does.

Chips and salsa is Texas's state snack

You might be familiar with your state's nickname or its state animal, but did you know that many states have an official snack, too? According to Bon Appétit, some of these include yogurt in New York, popcorn in Illinois, boiled peanuts in South Carolina, and Jell-O, of all things, in Utah. And in Texas, where everything's bigger, as they say, the state snack has been chips and salsa since 2003. In that year, according to Washington on the Brazos, students at Marcell Elementary School in Mission contacted State Representative Kino Flores about designating a state snack.

For the state legislature, the clear choice was chips and salsa. "Tortilla chips and salsa are deeply rooted in Texas tradition and enjoy popularity throughout the length and breadth of the state," the legislature wrote. "Stocked in countless kitchens, they are brought out for solitary refreshment and for social gatherings of virtually every description and level of formality." So if you're ever eating out in a Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurant in Texas, don't be surprised to find an unusual amount of devotion and care as your basket and bowl are refilled.