Before nachos became one of the most beloved snack foods in North America and beyond, they were invented on a whim by a maître d' working in Piedras Negras, Mexico. Even if you've never heard Ignacio Anaya García's full name, you've certainly seen his nickname, "Nacho," in the appetizer sections of countless restaurant menus. On what would have been his 124th birthday, Google is honoring the culinary innovator with his own animated Doodle.
García was born in Mexico on August 15, 1895. His proper first name was Ignacio, but he went by the shortened version Nacho—a word that was not yet synonymous with tortilla chips covered in cheese.
In 1943, García conceived the dish that made his name famous. He was working at the popular restaurant Club Victoria near the Texas-Mexico border when a group of soldiers' wives from a nearby U.S. Army base came in to order a snack. The chef was nowhere to be found, so García temporarily abandoned his post to whip up something himself. His recipe—tortilla chips topped with grated Wisconsin cheese and sliced jalapeños—was dubbed Nachos especiales.
The creation was an immediate hit. Neighboring restaurants added their own versions of Nachos especiales to menus, and as early as 1949, a recipe for the snack appeared in an American cookbook. García never claimed legal rights to the dish, and it's still in the public domain today. But the Nacho behind nachos wasn't forgotten. Within 17 years of serving the first platter, he opened his own restaurant called El Nacho.
Today's Google Doodle, animated by Mexico City-based artist Alfonso de Anda, recreates Nacho García assembling his namesake dish. "I hope people get an instant crave for a snack after they see the Doodle," de Anda told Google. "I also hope that they instantly drop whatever it is they're doing and satisfy that craving."
If you've ever enjoyed a plate of nachos, you now know who to thank for them.
Many people overdo it with the drinking on St. Patrick's Day, but it's not always Guinness or Jameson that gets them into trouble. Sometimes it's the Shamrock Shake, McDonald's uniquely green and often elusive seasonal treat. Here’s the skinny on the 660-calorie indulgence.
1. The Shamrock Shake wasn't originally known as The Shamrock Shake.
What does the Shamrock Shake have to do with the Ronald McDonald House and the Philadelphia Eagles? Everything, according to the fast food giant. When Eagles tight end Fred Hill’s daughter was being treated for leukemia in 1974, Fred and his wife spent a lot of time in waiting rooms and noticed many other emotionally depleted families doing the same. He thought it would be healthier for families if they had a place to call home while their children were being treated, so he used his football connections to get in touch with a local advertising agency that did work for Mickey D’s. They agreed to give profits from the Shamrock Shake toward a home near the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, which ended up becoming the first-ever Ronald McDonald House.
3. Uncle O'Grimacey used to be the Shamrock Shake's ambassador.
Back in the early ‘80s, a fairly offensive character named Uncle O’Grimacey was used to promote the seasonal shake.
4. No McDonald's restaurant is required to offer the Shamrock Shake.
In 2012, it was announced that, for the first time, the Shamrock Shake would be available in all McDonald's nationwide—but not all restaurants have to carry them. Regional managers decide whether their stores will carry the shakes each year.
5. Jimmy Fallon once depleted a New York City restaurant's entire Shamrock Shake supply.
If you’re a New Yorker and you didn’t get a much-craved Shamrock Shake in 2011, it’s probably Jimmy Fallon’s fault. When he caught wind that a Union Square Mickey D's had the elusive dessert, he totally cleaned them out—purchasing more than 100 shakes for his audience. New Yorkers were not pleased with Fallon.
6. The Shamrock Shake got an ice cream offshoot (that didn't fare so well).
Despite the smashing success of the shake, the Shamrock Sundae was a dismal failure. Introduced in 1980, it was discontinued after just a year. Apparently people prefer their unnaturally green desserts in shake form as opposed to scoop form. Though this year, they're trying again: in honor of the Shamrock Shake's 50th anniversary, McDonald's is also introducing an Oreo Shamrock McFlurry.
7. There have been many super-sized versions of the Shamrock Shake.
For a few years, a giant shake was poured into the Chicago River to help contribute to the green hue it’s dyed every year. A donation was also made to the Ronald McDonald House.
8. The McDonald's app will help you track down a Shamrock Shake.
Are you one of those unfortunate souls who has to hunt the shake down every year? McDonald's official app can help. In 2020, for the first time in three years, the Shamrock Shake will be offered at all McDonald's locations. If you're not sure of the nearest one near you, the McDonald's app has a full directory to help.
9. You can make your own Shamrock Shake at home.
If you still can’t find a shake, you have one other option: make your own.
10. In 2017, McDonald's engineered a special Shamrock Shake straw.
In 2017, McDonald's unveiled an amazing innovation for Shamrock Shake lovers: the STRAW. Short for Suction Tube for Reverse Axial Withdrawal, the STRAW was designed by real engineers at the aerospace and robotics engineering firms JACE and NK Labs—specifically with the Shamrock Shake in mind. What sets the device apart from conventional straws is the sharp bend in its shape and the three, eye-shaped holes in addition to the opening at the bottom end. The extra holes are positioned in a way that allows drinkers to take a sip of a new layered version of the frosty treat that’s equal parts top mint layer and bottom chocolate layer.
If you don't think it's possible to get excited about beans, you've clearly never been to the Baked Bean Museum of Excellence in Port Talbot, Wales. The site is filled with memorabilia celebrating canned baked beans, but the legume-loving "superhero" in charge of it all may be the most intriguing attraction.
Before legally changing his name to "Captain Beany" in 1991, the owner of the Baked Bean Museum was a Welsh man named Barry Kirk, according to Atlas Obscura. He was born in 1954 and spent the early part of his adulthood working in the computer department of a British petroleum plant in South Wales.
But his life took a much different direction in 1986 when he broke the world record for longest time in a baked bean bath at 100 hours. He fully adopted his Captain Beany persona five years later and began painting his face and head orange. He also started dressing in a gold-and-orange superhero costume. Since then, he's raised nearly $130,000 for charity by performing various bean-related stunts like pushing a can of beans along the beach with his nose. His biggest claim to fame, though, is his Baked Bean Museum, which he opened in his two-bedroom council flat in 2009.
Baked Bean Museum of Excellence
Visit Captain Beany's home and you'll find more baked bean swag than most people see in a lifetime. His lavatory has been transformed into the "Branston Bathroom," with the British product's logo embellishing every surface, and the kitchen is all about Heinz. The museum also features vintage advertisements, collectible cans, and knick-knacks like a pair of baked bean cufflinks. And if you ever start to feel overwhelmed, Captain Beany will be there as your personal guide in one of his tomato-sauce-orange outfits.
Baked Bean Museum of Excellence
The Baked Bean Museum of Excellence is technically free to enter, but Captain Beany does accept donations that he gives to charity. You can visit the Port Talbot institution from Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.