15 Delicious Facts for National Nacho Day

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Today is National Nacho Day, which seems like as good a reason as any to celebrate the splendor of tortilla chips topped with cheese.

1. Nachos Aren’t a New Snack

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While new generations of chefs are putting their own spin on nachos, the appetizer has already stood the test of time. The cheesy chips date all the way back to 1943.

2. There Was an Actual “Nacho”

Nacho is a common nickname for the Spanish name Ignacio. The heroic Nacho who is immortalized by the dish first crafted the snack almost by accident, when he was pressured to create a meal using whatever he could find in the kitchen.

3. Nachos Were Invented Right On the Border

As the dish’s origin legend goes, nachos were first crafted by Nacho when he was working as the maître d' of a restaurant in Piedras Negras, Mexico. Right before closing, a party of women came in for a bite to eat. They were the wives of officers stationed at Fort Duncan in Texas, and would cross over the border to shop. The restaurant’s cook was nowhere to be found, but the ladies did not leave disappointed. The maître d' combined the first three things he found in the kitchen: shredded Wisconsin cheddar, tortilla chips, and sliced jalapeños. When the women asked him what this new improvised creation was called, he told them “Nacho Especiales.”

4. Nachos Had Taken America by Storm by 1949

After the new food was unveiled, it started to spread throughout America. In 1949, the dish was first mentioned in English print in a cookbook that gave credit to the original creator.

5. Nachos Are in the Public Domain

The creator never sought to claim ownership of the dish, but his son contacted a lawyer in 1960 to explore the possibility. Unfortunately, too much time had passed, so the recipe was free to the public.

6. Nachos Don’t Have to Be Unhealthy

If you want to cut down on greasy food but aren’t ready to give up nachos, just make some adjustments. For a more diet-friendly snack, try baked tortilla chips, ground chicken, a small amount of cheese, and lots of vegetables.

7. Beef, Beans, and Other Tweaks Are Considered “Modern”

The authentic version of the dish is simply shredded cheese, tortilla chips, and jalapeños, just as the creator made it. Nachos with other additions are considered a spinoff of the original.

8. Tortilla Chips Are An American Invention

Although they’re known as Mexican restaurant staples, tortilla chips could carry an American culinary passport. An American tortilla factory came up with an ingenious way to get rid of their scraps—they took warped and unsellable tortillas, fried them up, and sold them for ten cents a bag. The company managed to get rid of its surplus and make money doing it.

9. “Nacho Cheese” Is Also An American Invention

Nachos were becoming popular in restaurants in Texas, but as they required an oven to melt the cheese, one man sought to make a more convenient solution. Nacho cheese is liquid goo that can be layered over chips quickly. If you’re wondering what’s in it, the recipe is a well-guarded secret.

10. The FDA Doesn’t Consider It a Real Cheese

If you turn your nose up at this liquid cheese, you’re not alone—the concoction does not meet the FDA’s standards for real cheese.

11. Stadiums Love It, Though

The liquid cheese invention did not have to be refrigerated and had a longer shelf life than regular cheese, so it was easy to serve at ballparks. The sauce hit the stands in 1976 and was an immediate hit. Nachos soon outsold popcorn, stadiums’ former bestseller.

12. Nachos Can Take on a Grand Scale

A school in Kansas holds the record for the largest plate of nachos in the world. The gigantic platter weighed a whopping 4,689 pounds, and 2,200 of those pounds were nacho cheese alone. Servings of the 80-foot creation were sold to the masses for a dollar each in an effort to raise funds for charity.

13. The Recipe Is Made to Be Tweaked

Nachos can take on many different forms, including nacho lasagna, chocolate nachos, and even spicy nacho-flavored beer. Although the original recipe is rigid, modern takes can be a lot more creative.

14. Nachos Are Delicious Enough to Carry Two Holidays

In addition to today’s National Nachos Day, Piedras Negras observes the Day of the Nacho on October 21 and has erected a bronze plaque to honor the dish’s creator.

15. Ambitious Cheese Sauce Lovers Can Make Their Own

All you need is milk, butter, flour, and your choice of cheese. There are also plenty of vegan recipes floating around that use vegetables, tofu, and beans as substitutes.

What's the Difference Between Stuffing and Dressing?

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For carbohydrate lovers, nothing completes a Thanksgiving meal quite like stuffing—shovelfuls of bread, celery, mushrooms, and other ingredients that complement all of that turkey protein.

Some people don’t say stuffing, though. They say dressing. In these calamitous times, knowing how to properly refer to the giant glob of insulin-spiking bread seems necessary. So what's the difference?

Let’s dismiss one theory off the bat: Dressing and stuffing do not correlate with how the side dish is prepared. A turkey can be stuffed with dressing, and stuffing can be served in a casserole dish. Whether it’s ever seen the inside of a bird is irrelevant, and anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong and should be met with suspicion, if not outright derision.

The terms are actually separated due to regional dialects. Dressing seems to be the favored descriptor for southern states like Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia, while stuffing is preferred by Maine, New York, and other northern areas. (Some parts of Pennsylvania call it filling, which is a bit too on the nose, but to each their own.)

If stuffing stemmed from the common practice of filling a turkey with carbs, why the division? According to The Huffington Post, it may have been because Southerners considered the word stuffing impolite, and therefore never embraced it.

While you should experience no material difference in asking for stuffing or dressing, when visiting relatives it might be helpful to keep to their regionally-preferred word to avoid confusion. Enjoy stuffing yourselves.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

5 Simple Ways to Upgrade Your Green Bean Casserole

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Green bean casserole became a fixture of Thanksgiving spreads shortly after Dorcas Reilly invented the dish in 1955. The classic recipe, which includes Campbell’s condensed cream of mushroom soup and French’s French fried onions, is a sacred piece of Americana—but there's nothing stopping you from playing around with it this Thanksgiving. Just brace yourself for skeptical looks from your more traditional relatives when these variations hit the table.

1. USE HOMEMADE FRIED ONION RINGS.

Green bean casserole typically calls for crispy fried onion bits from a can—and that's fine if you're pressed for time on the big day. But if you're looking to make your casserole taste unforgettable, it's hard to beat to fresh onion rings fried at home. Homemade onion rings are more flavorful than the store-bought stuff and they provide an eye-popping topper for your dish. If you're interested in making onion rings part of your Thanksgiving menu, this recipe from delish will walk you through it.

2. ADD SOME GOUDA.

This recipe from Munchies gives the all-American green bean casserole some European class with shallots, chanterelles, and smoked gouda. Some family members may object to adding a pungent cheese to this traditional dish, but tell them to wait until after they taste it to judge.

3. LIGHTEN IT UP.

As is the case with any recipe that calls for a can of creamy condensed soup, green bean casserole is rarely described as a "light" bite. Some people like the heavy richness of the dish, but if you're looking to give diners a lighter alternative, this recipe from Food52 does the trick. Instead of cream of mushroom soup, it involves a dressing of crème fraîche, sherry vinegar, mustard, and olive oil. Hazelnuts and chives provide the crunch in place of fried onions. It may be more of a salad than a true casserole, but the spirit of the classic recipe is alive in this dish.

4. MIX IN SOME BACON.

Looking to make your green bean casserole even more indulgent this Thanksgiving? There are plenty of recipes out there that will help you do so. This "jazzed-up" version from Taste of Home includes all the conventional ingredients of a green bean casserole with some inspired additions. Crumbled bacon and water chestnuts bring the crunch, and Velveeta ups the cheesy decadence factor to an 11.

5. TURN IT INTO A TART.

If your Thanksgiving menu is looking heavy on the side dishes, consider making your green bean casserole into an appetizer. This green bean and mushroom tart from Thanksgiving & Co. has all the flavors of the traditional casserole baked on an easy-to-eat tart. A tart is also a tasty option if you're looking to repurpose your green bean casserole leftovers the day after.

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