Some dispiriting news: Frank Liberto, creator of beloved Ricos Cheese Sauce, died peacefully surrounded by his family this past Sunday of natural causes. He was 84. Rather fittingly, Liberto died the day before National Nacho Day.
There's nothing quite like Ricos Cheese Sauce, which you'll find all at baseball stadiums and movie theaters across America. It's that smooth, yellow, wonderfully salty goo that sits pretty atop a pile of fried tortilla chips, best decorated with diced jalapeños. The sauce was the brainchild of Liberto, a native Texan who debuted his creation at a Texas Rangers baseball game in Arlington, Texas in 1976. This invention was enough for Liberto to be christened the "Father of Nachos" throughout the duration of his life.
To understand Liberto's import, consider what kind of convenience food Ricos Cheese Sauce was in its day: As a 2013 report from Smithsonian points out, it was actually a cut above most commercial cheese sauces on the market at the time, which typically poor shelf lives and stubborn consistencies. Liberto's product was so popular that in 1977, the Dallas Cowboys began selling the sauce at their games. That same year, Liberto was able to harness the enthusiasm for this flagship product into a full-fledged business, Ricos Products, which now operates in 57 countries across the world.
MAKE THIS: Cheese Sauce
Liberto, an Army veteran, was born in 1933 in San Antonio, TX into a family of food entrepreneurs. In 1960, he inherited the mantle of family business Liberto Specialty Company, which has been around since 1909.
"He led our company with an entrepreneur spirit and a passion that had an impact on his family of employees, customers, business associates and friends," Ricos President and CEO Tony Liberto, Frank's son, said in a statement to My San Antonio. "He will be dearly missed by all who knew him. His legacy will live on forever."
Rest easy, my man. We raise our gas station nachos to you.