When we’re indulging in one of Fuzzy’s Taco Shop’s jumbo burritos, the last thing we’re usually thinking about is where these Mexican delicacies really came from. Burro is Spanish for donkey, so “burrito” can only mean little donkeys?
Wait, that can’t be right.
Instead of speculating about what “burrito” really means or its rich history, let’s find out the truth.
Juan Mendez lived in the early 1900s in Chihuahua, Mexico. Mendez used his donkey to haul his food cart supplies, and in an effort to keep his food warm, it’s believed he wrapped it up in flour tortillas. This invention of practicality gained popularity as a food item in its own right and supposedly got its name from the donkey (aka burro) cart.
So there you have it. That’s how the burrito came to—BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
Juan Mendez may have sold burritos out of his donkey cart, but he couldn’t have been the inventor of this portable snack. Why not? Because there’s an entry for “burrito” in the Diccionario de Mexicanismos, which was released years before Mendez’s time. The dictionary defines a burrito as “a rolled tortilla with meat or other ingredients inside, called ‘coçito’ in Yucatán and ‘taco’ in the city of Cuernavaca and in Mexico City.”
So what gives?
The term burrito was most popular in the central Mexican state Guanajuato, leading many food historians to believe this is where the inception took place. Another theory is that burritos came to be because they look like the ears of a donkey or the bedrolls or packs that were schlepped by donkeys during this time.
It remains a mystery to this day.
Regardless of how they were named, they spread like wildfire throughout Mexico and eventually made their way to the United States. The first burrito menu sighting on U.S. soil came in the 1930s at El Cholo Spanish Café in Los Angeles, though it’s believed burritos were already making the rounds stateside before then.
Later, San Francisco made famous the Mission-style burrito, which supplements the tortilla with an outer layer of aluminum foil.
The breakfast burrito was late to the party, finding popularity in the 1970s before becoming mainstream in the 1990s.
*Flashback music stops*
There’s a lot of mystery as to where the burrito originated and how this “little donkey” got its name. No matter. You can honor the past any day with a visit to your nearest Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, where you can indulge in one of these carefully wrapped beauties. Out of respect, of course.