Of marketing and “Hispanic food”

Marketing is so powerful that it can turn a small, humble kind of spice into the main component of thousands (yes, thousands!) of “Hispanic foods” in the U.S.

At least that is what marketers want you to believe. An article in today’s online edition of Newsday says that the number of chipotle-flavored menu items at national restaurant chains had tripled to 2,800 between 2004 and 2005. I cannot even begin to imagine where on earth is chipotle ending up (ice cream? cookies? drinks?) I hate to spoil the party, but I was born, raised and fed in Mexico, by real Mexican people and cooks, and I don’t think I can count more than 10 chipotle-based dishes.


The article, aptly headlined “Olé to Hispanic flavors” also talks about another great innovation by Tyson Foods Inc.: thinly-sliced beef intended for “Hispanic dishes such as fajitas.” I wonder why my mom still spends so much time with the knife…

Of course the piece also mentions Dulce de Leche Oreos and lime-flavored beer as examples of marketers “adapting” to Hispanic tastes -even though I’ve never seen anybody in Latin America eat any of those. And don’t get me started on the concept of “Hispanic foods”… What is that anyway?

2 thoughts on “Of marketing and “Hispanic food”

  1. am I crazy or the ad for Chipotle restaurant actually says Food with Integrity? That is in itself a joke!

  2. I agree with you. Most of the “Latino” meals I tried while living in the U.S. were far from the real thing. I came to believe that all restaurants bought a special “Mexican Flavor” powder that they sprinkled on anything called Latino or Hispanic in their menus because everything tasted kind of the same. I fought homesickness with frijoles volteados, queso seco and other C.A. foods I bought at the small grocery stores in Columbia Heights and University Boulevard (DC and MD) giving up on the restaurants early on. When they opened a Chipotle restaurant in the UMD area I tried it once and gave it up because I found it most unmexican. I’m Guatemalan and my family spent many holidays in Southern Mexico when I was young, so I took offense with the appropriation of food terminology from Mexico and C.A. by American food corporations. Yuk.

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