5 Super Snacks Created by Immigrants
What do beer, cheese, tortilla chips, hot dogs, and Italian sandwiches all have in common? Aside from the fact that millions of Americans will be enjoying these snacks on Sunday night while huddled around the TV, immigrants invented these tasty favorites. So while you’re chowing down during the big game, share this history with your friends and say, “Cheers!” to these immigrant innovators.
Born in Germany in 1839, Adolphus Busch immigrated to St. Louis, Missouri in 1857. There, he married Lilly Anheuser, whose father Eberhard Anheuser, also a German immigrant, owned a small lager beer company. In 1864, Busch partnered with his father-in-law to create the Anheuser-Busch Company. After nearly a century-and-a-half of success, Anheuser-Busch was sold to InBev in 2008 for almost $52 billion, making Anheuser-Busch InBev the largest beer-brewing company in the world with over 200 beer brands, including popular brands like Budweiser, Beck’s, and Corona.
In 1873, German immigrants Adolph Coors and Jacob Schueler founded The Golden Brewery in Golden, Colorado. In 1880, Coors bought out his partner and renamed the brewery the Adolph Coors Brewing and Manufacturing Company. The company enjoyed many years of success, and in 2008 Coors merged with the Miller Brewing Company, which was founded in Milwaukee in 1855 by a German-born entrepreneur, Frederick J. Miller. Today, MillerCoors is the second largest brewery in the United States. It produces over 70 different beers including Blue Moon, Coors Light, and Heineken.
James L. Kraft, the inventor of processed cheese, emigrated from Canada to the United States in 1903. After losing his job managing a cheese business in Chicago, Illinois, Kraft made a very clever investment. He rented a horse and wagon to purchase cheese from Chicago’s wholesale warehouse district in the morning and would then resell it to small storekeepers throughout the day. The storekeepers appreciated not having to travel to the warehouse, and Kraft’s logistics business soon prospered. Inspired by the success of his venture, Kraft developed a technique for pasteurizing cheese so that it would not spoil and could be shipped long distances. This process was patented in 1916, and the company grew quickly from there. Kraft served as the company’s president for over 40 years. Today, Kraft Foods Inc. is responsible for creating universally recognized products, such as Velveeta processed cheese, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.
- Tortilla Chips
Rebecca Webb Carranza, credited with the first mass production of tortilla chips, emigrated from Mexico to California when she was a teenager. During the 1950s, Carranza became president of the El Zarape Tortilla Factory in Los Angeles, California. At the factory, she noticed that when the tortilla-making machine produced misshapen tortillas, they were thrown out. Carranza rescued some of these tortillas, took them home, cut them into triangles, fried them, and served them to relatives. They were an immediate hit, stealing business from their predecessor, the corn chip. By the 1960s, she had packaged and named the snack Tort Chips, and they were sold through the factory and delivered up and down the coast of California, soon becoming El Zarape’s primary business.
- Hot Dogs
Charles Feltman, inventor of the hot dog, emigrated from Germany to New York in 1856 at the age of 15. A Coney Island resident, Feltman opened a restaurant where he decided to sell sausages in a roll so that he could avoid providing his customers with silverware and plates. In 1916, one of Feltman’s employees, Polish immigrant Nathan Handwerk, left Feltman’s company to start his own hot dog business – Nathan’s Famous. Nathan’s Famous is a Coney Island icon that has become a successful international corporation. In 2013 alone, Nathan’s sold more than 425 million hot dogs. Because of their convenience and deliciousness, hot dogs have become a staple at sports stadiums across the country.
- Italian Sandwiches
During the beginning of the 20th century, Italian immigrant Giovanni Amato started selling fresh, baked rolls from a pushcart to dock workers in Portland, Maine. On that same dock, the Italian sandwich was born when Amato added meat, cheese, and fresh vegetables to his rolls. Amato opened a sandwich shop on India Street in Portland in the 1920s; his “Italians” became so well known that he would typically sell around 5,000 sandwiches on Sundays. Now, hundreds of variations of the Italian sandwich exist all over the United States, and these sandwiches are a staple everywhere on game day.