Nachos are a popular food consisting of tortilla chips topped with cheese or some sort of cheese based sauce. Nachos are usually served as a snack or as an appetizer. Nachos can get much more elaborate though, featuring other ingredients making them great as a main dish as well.

Nachos found their beginnings in the northern Mexican city of Piedras Negras, just across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas. The story goes that in 1943, the wives of U.S. soldiers who were stationed at Fort Duncan nearby in Eagle Pass, were on a shopping trip in Piedras Negras when they arrived at a restaurant which had unfortunately closed for the day.

Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya, the Maître d’hôtel created a snack for them with the few items he had available in the kitchen. Anaya cut some tortillas into triangles, fried them and added shredded cheddar cheese on top before heating them and adding some sliced pickled jalapeño peppers.

Anaya originally called his creation “Nacho’s especiales“, but as time went on the apostrophe was dropped and the name of the dish eventually became “special nachos”, or just nachos as we call them now.

The ubiquitous nature of the nacho means you will find them at concession stands, convenience stores, and all kinds of restaurants. The big question however, is what ingredients can you put on the nachos and still be able to call them nachos?

Nachos have become something of a confusing topic for our family. Don’t get my wrong, there’s absolutely no reason for this confusion to exist, but some mundane event which happened years ago, made us begin to question what really makes a nacho?

Can you actually call the nachos you find at sporting events true nachos? You know, the corn chips smothered in that gooey nacho cheese sauce? Perhaps they’re covered with chili and pickled jalapeño slices and something kind of resembling salsa? It seems eerily similar to what you might find at a well known fast food place…

Which I think we can all agree doesn’t serve real Mexican food.

Then on the other hand what would you call a dish consisting solely of tortilla chips and melted cheese? Vanessa argues that that should simply be called chips and cheese – not nachos. She believes that once something else is cooked in with the cheese (jalapeños may or may not count), then the dish becomes nachos. Is it still considered one chip if an extra cheese covered chip pulls apart with it?

But my big question is, where does it all end?

In my mind, they are all nachos, albeit different forms. If there are tortilla chips covered in melted cheese, they’re nachos in my opinion, regardless of whether or not they have ground beef, onions, tomatoes, jalapeños, sour cream, salsa, and/or lettuce as toppings.

In the end, I don’t think there will ever be a concise answer defining the difference between nachos and chips and cheese. I can tell you one thing though, there is absolutely no excuse for putting black olives on nachos. Only evil people do that.