A worker prepares nachos at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 
A worker prepares nachos at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  - 
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Bloomberg Businessweek associate editor Venessa Wong was reporting a story on the launch of Old El Paso’s new nacho cheese-flavored taco shells. The marketers bragged about their "big, bold, cheese taste," but when she pressed harder on how, exactly, it tasted, their answer smelled.

“I couldn’t get a straight answer,” she says.

That’s when she began her investigation. What truly is nacho cheese? First she asked the manager of Cheese Education Training at the Wisconsin Marketing Board, “and she tells me, ‘there really is not a nacho cheese, per se,’” Wong says.

She then inquired at the International Food Dairy Association, which told her: “‘There’s no standard definition of nacho cheese.’”

Wong’s sources were failing her. That’s when she researched the history of cheese. She found a 2002 article in the San Antonio Express-News  that said a man named Ignacio Anaya, whose nickname was "Nacho," created it in 1943. His main ingredient? “‘Wisconsin cheese, the round one,’” Wong says.

Old El Paso gave Wong a more philosophical answer. “‘It’s really based on what consumers are used to, and what they believe nacho flavoring is,’” she reports.

Something to mull over on Super Bowl Sunday.


The best, most straight-forward cheese sauce recipe we could find.
The best, most straight-forward cheese sauce recipe we could find. - 
Follow Kai Ryssdal at @kairyssdal