Texas entrepreneur developed pumpable cheese sauce.
Frank Liberto may not have invented nachos—that achievement, according to the Smithsonian, belongs to a Mexican maître d’ named Ignacio Anaya—but he made them an American staple.
Liberto, who died Sunday, Nov. 5, gave birth to the iconic form of “ballpark nachos,” a simple dish of tortilla chips, cheese, and jalapenos, fit for mass consumption at stadiums and movie theaters across the country.
Nachos had been a regional Tex-Mex snack for several decades before Liberto and his family’s company, Liberto Specialty Co., introduced their version to the public at a Texas Rangers baseball game in 1976. Liberto’s innovation was the cheese, a flavorful, viscous sauce that could quickly and easily be dispensed in a high-volume environment with little preparation.
Liberto credited the spicy snack’s boom in popularity to a Dallas Cowboys game broadcast on “Monday Night Football” in 1977, when announcer Howard Cosell mentioned them several times.
When Liberto died Sunday in San Antonio, at 84, the San Antonio Express-News noted that it was the day before National Nachos Day. You can read more about the life of this entrepreneur, veteran, and family man in his family obituary.
The next time you dip a chip at the ballpark, remember the man who saw that the concession stand could use a little extra spice.
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