La deliciosa historia real de un chef inventivo y los eventos casuales que llevaron a la creación del bocadillo favorito del mundo: ¡los nachos!
The Spanish edition of Sandra Nickel’s NACHO’S NACHOS, translated by Luis Humberto Crosthwaite, releases on November 13th, but International Day of the Nacho is October 20 and National Nachos Day is November 6 so we started the fiesta early.
Nickel’s English version, NACHO’S NACHOS, Illus. by Oliver Dominguez, was released from Lee & Low in 2020, in celbration of 80 Years of Nachos (!) and has received mulitple awards and honors, including:
Best Children’s Books of the Year, Bank Street College of Education
Christopher Award, Books for Young Readers
Best Books of 2020, Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature (CSMCL)
It was also purchased for use in classrooms across New York City–the largest school district in the US.
“Nickel’s thorough research, including communications with the descendants of the principals, brings to life the man behind the world’s favorite cheesy bites. . . . Nickel’s homage to this congenial, hardworking man and his renowned snack is a celebration of ingenuity and kismet.”
— KIRKUS REVIEWS, starred review
NACHO’S NACHOS was also named Best Picture Book of 2020 by Kirkus Reviews
“This tale of the humble origins of nachos, bolstered by vivid and period-specific illustrations, will whisk young readers away to a different time and place.” —BOOKLIST
And we have Questions!
Q 1. What was the inspiration for your story? How did you first hear about Nacho?
SN: One day as I was making nachos, I wondered, “Who invented these?” I’m not sure where that thought came from. I’ve never wondered, who invented quesadillas or empanadas. But there I was wondering.
I hopped on the internet to see what I could find. Back then, I had to do some real digging before I discovered Ignacio Anaya, who was nicknamed Nacho, was the inventor. I also discovered that nachos were originally called Nacho’s Special, but over time “Special” was dropped and so was the apostrophe that gave credit to Nacho. When I found that out, it didn’t seem fair.
It didn’t seem fair that for the past eighty years people around the world have ordered corn tortillas with toppings by saying Nacho’s name but didn’t know Nacho had invented them. That seemed so unfair I decided to write a book about Nacho.
Q 2. What was your research process like?
SN: I noticed straight off that the few internet references to Nacho’s invention didn’t agree on the story. I’m a big believer that if we are going to tell stories for children, then we have to get the facts right. I always do original research. So, I scoured genealogy sites looking for Nacho’s family, reached out to folks on Facebook, and called folks who said they knew the story.
I at last hit research gold when I talked with Sandra Martinez at the Eagle Pass, Texas Chamber of Commerce. She told me she knew Nacho’s family, as well as the families of Mamie Finan and Rodolfo de los Santos, the other two key players in the nachos story. Everyone agreed to talk with me, so I headed down to Eagle Pass and Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico, where nachos were born.
I then hit the research motherload when I discovered three different archived articles where Nacho himself told about inventing nachos. I had been hoping and hoping to find this, and once I had Nacho telling his own story, along with the photographs, newspaper articles, and other details the families provided, I knew we were ready to go.
Q 3. How do you make your nachos?
SN: The original way. There is something so beautifully satisfying about a simple corn tortilla topped with melted cheese and the tang of pickled jalepeño.
Q 4. Were there any surprises from the illustrator?
SN: Oliver Dominguez is an amazing illustrator and wonderful human being. For my school visits he allows me to share his illustration process for the cover. You can see this below. The big surprise!?! He dressed up as Nacho and acted as his own model for that incredible cover, where Nacho not only invites readers into the book but also invites everyone to his table.
Q 5. What do you find most inspirational about Nacho’s story?
SN: The generosity. Nacho offered to create something new for Mamie, even though he didn’t have an idea already in mind. Everyone I talked to said what an incredible person Nacho was. He always did whatever he could to make his guests comfortable and happy.
Rodolfo also showed his generous nature when he put Nacho’s name and dish on every one of his menus—and later gave Nacho kitchen equipment to set up his own restaurant.
And last but not least, Nacho’s, Mamie’s, and Rodolfo’s families all shared their time, photographs, and family stories with me—really, with all of us. Nacho’s Nachos could have never been told without them, and I am enormously grateful for their generosity.
Teacher Bonus–> Fun Activities!
Clink this link to find activity sheets for coloring, imaginative drawing, making a nacho banner, and, of course, preparing Ignacio Anaya’s original Nacho’s Special! Here’s just one example:
Q 6. What’s next for you, Sandra? Anything you can share?
SN: Thank you so much for asking, Erin. I’ve got five books coming out next year and the year after, and I can tell you about four of them.
Fall 2024 brings Bear’s Big Idea (Lerner/Carolrhoda), where Bear, with a little help from Fish, catches an idea in a wonderous way.
Spring 2025 brings Seven (Candlewick), a story about a small pigeon who shows what it means to be oneself, and The True Ugly Duckling: How Hans Christian Andersen Became a Swan, a story that is written in fairy-tale form and tells how Andersen yearned for acceptance and used his originality to find his place in the world.
And then Summer 2025 brings Making Light Bloom (Peachtree), a story about Clara Driscoll, who devised a way to convert the beauty of her much-loved gardens into glass, becoming the creator of the Tiffany lamps.
To find out more about Sandra Nickel and her amazing books
check out sandranickel.com and follow her on