Who invented Jalapeno Poppers? (Invention Timeline Explained)

Have you ever had a jalapeno popper? Depending on the location (and preference), you’ve either had it at some point, or you’ve had quite a lot of it and can’t get enough! It’s one of those interesting foods that make for a great combination, yet not enough people really dive deep into the history of the jalapeno popper.

For those who aren’t in the know, the jalapeno popper is a jalapeno pepper that’s been hollowed out, replaced with a mix of cheese and spices (or ground beef), breaded (or wrapped with meats), and deep fried. It’s a simple yet soulful combination that acts as a side or snack to the main dish. If you’re interested in the history of all sorts of inventions, how about let’s look into the potentially colorful history of jalapeno poppers? Let’s see what interesting bits of trivia we can cook up!

Who invented jalapeno poppers?

The distinction goes to Anchor Food Products, who went out of their way to trademark the term jalapeno poppers. While the trademarking of products isn’t anything new, it’s interesting that this particular combination was trademarked — it goes to show that they had high expectations for the now iconic snack.

Jalapeno poppers’ key contributors (and evolution)

  • Ancient Aztecs
    Were known to be the first to make use of jalapeno peppers

    To get started with the jalapeno popper craze, let’s first look into the first key contributors, the ancient Aztecs. They were known to dry and smoke ancient jalapenos, paving the way for the pepper to become a food staple.

  • The Spanish
    They practically invented the concept of stuffed peppers

    Now that we’ve gotten the origin of the jalapeno pepper, we can have a look at the people responsible for stuffing various peppers. Spanish cuisine is famous around the world for their habit of stuffing various peppers with spiced cheeses and meats.

  • The Milanese
    Started the trend of breading with their breaded meats

    If you order a breaded cutlet from Spain, they would tell you it was the escalope milanesa. The Milanese were the first to make full use of the breaded craze, and they got their start by breading beef or veal. Eventually, the habit of breading various things eventually spread to other areas around the globe.

  • The Japanese
    Popularized the concept of breading vegetables

    The concept of breaded vegetables is indeed delicious, and it was popularized in Japan. Typically, they would bread it with their own special batter. They call it tempura, and it comes from the word “tempora” or time period. It’s a reference to the time the Japanese learned to utilize batter to deep fry meat or vegetables.

  • Anchor Food Products
    The company responsible for coining the term jalapeno poppers

    Last but certainly not least, we have Anchor Foods, who decided to trademark the term jalapeno popper since they trusted the food combination so much. They were right to do so, as the delicious treat spread quickly, and its popularity soared.

When were jalapeno poppers invented?

Anchor Food Products invented the concept of jalapeno poppers as well as the name in 1992. They were confident enough about the combination that they got to work trademarking it as soon as they possibly could.

A brief history of jalapeno poppers

One of the coolest things about jalapeno popper history is we get to talk about all sorts of different historical tidbits that merge together to create the iconic jalapeno popper. For example, jalapeno peppers originated with the ancient Aztecs, who would often smoke and dry these peppers. It was with the ancient Aztecs that the jalapeno pepper grew in popularity as time went on.

There’s also the history of the stuffed pepper, as what is a jalapeno popper but a stuffed pepper at the end of the day? As far as the concept of stuffing peppers goes, there’s no real way to figure out the exact origin — we can only talk about where it was popularized. Spain was well-known for stuffing peppers, usually with their spice blends of meat and cheese. There’s also the concept of breading vegetables, which, interestingly enough, was popularized in Japan through tempura. It comes from the word “tempora,” which is a reference to the time period when the Japanese popularized breading and deep frying vegetables.

Last but certainly not least, we have Anchor Foods, who decided to trademark the term jalapeno popper since they trusted the food combination so much. They were right to do so, as the delicious treat spread quickly, and its popularity soared. Since then, jalapeno poppers continue to be an iconic treat, with many places in the world having their own version of the popper.

The jalapeno poppers timeline

  1. 1345
    The ancient Aztecs

    They were known to dry and smoke ancient jalapenos, paving the way for the pepper to become a food staple.

  2. 1500s
    Peppers were imported to Spain

    Various peppers were imported to Spain in the 1500s, and it spread throughout the rest of the world. The Spanish eventually popularized stuffed peppers.

  3. 1500-1600
    The invention of tempura in Japan

    Coincidentally, the time period of stuffed peppers also falls in line with the invention of tempura, which is the act of frying vegetables in batter.

  4. 1920
    The Anchor Food Products Trademark

    Last but certainly not least, we have Anchor Foods, who decided to trademark the term jalapeno popper since they trusted the food combination so much. They were right to do so, as the delicious treat spread quickly, and its popularity soared.

Where were jalapeno poppers invented?

Jalapeno poppers were invented in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Why everyone loves jalapeno poppers

  • It’s an easy thing to love

    First and foremost, one of the reasons why everyone loves jalapeno poppers is — quite simply — it’s a snack that’s easy to love. People already love stuffed peppers. They also love tempura, and various other breaded and deep fried veggies. Jalapeno poppers are simply a combination of both.

  • The surprising number of variations

    One of the fun things about jalapeno poppers is the design isn’t necessarily set in stone. Just because the original jalapeno poppers are a certain way doesn’t mean that it can’t be changed. For example, some people prefer ground beef to spiced cheese, or a combination of the two.

  • Different versions in places all around the world

    While jalapeno poppers are trademarked, there are various other peppers and chilis out there that can be made in a similar way. For example, the Philippines has the long green chilis, which can be prepared similarly to jalapeno poppers. They call their specific rendition dynamite, which is an apt name for such a snack. 

  • A comfort food that satisfies all sorts of food cravings

    Jalapeno poppers tend to be a popular snack due to how it can help scratch that food itch people tend to have. From its spiciness to the addition of cheese, the breading, and even being wrapped in meat, it’s a snack with various layers of satisfaction.

Jalapeno poppers by the numbers

  • 2The minimum number of jalapeno poppers you’ll probably eat. It’s not easy to end things with just a single jalapeno popper! You pop ’em in your mouth, and you’ll just end up wanting more!
  • 1985In 1985, a similar type of jalapeno product was released by Leon’s Texas Cuisine, known as the jalito. According to them, it’s the original jalapeno popper. Of course, Anchor Food Products had already trademarked it, so the credit still goes to them.
  • 2500With regards to the scoville units of jalapeno’s the minimum is at about 2500 scoville. It’s not too bad when you consider some of the hottest peppers in the world can get up to 2 million (!) scoville.
  • 10000The maximum number of scoville rated for the hottest jalapenos. The jalapeno popper typically isn’t all that spicy — even with a very hot jalapeno pepper — as it’s hollowed out to make the popper.

Five facts about jalapeno poppers

  • A combination of various cuisines

    Isn’t it odd that the jalapeno popper acts as a mish mash of cuisines? For example, the Milanese were known for the concept of breading, the Spanish were known for stuffing peppers, and the Japanese deep fried battered vegetables.

  • Armadillo eggs

    If you didn’t quite understand the term, jalapeno poppers are also known as armadillo eggs due to their texture after breading. The name becomes even more apt for the type of jalapeno popper that’s wrapped in bacon!

  • A snack to fit your preferences

    So long as you’re a fan of jalapenos, it’s hard not to love jalapeno poppers. After all, you can change whatever ingredient you like (except the jalapenos) to help personalize the snack. It’s the kind of food that you can fit to your preferences and enjoy no matter the situation!

  • The great thing about jalapenos

    While jalapeno poppers can be quite a hefty meal depending on how you stuff it, the peppers themselves are low in calories and are a good source of vitamin C and B6. They’re also pretty great sources of fiber, making it a particularly healthy snack.

  • The hot and cold combination

    Jalapeno poppers can be pretty hot, both in the temperature and spicy sense. Typically, one of the ideal ways to enjoy the best of both worlds is to eat it while it’s still hot, but to go for a cold dip.

FAQ about jalapeno poppers

  • Are jalapeno poppers spicy?

    There’s nothing to fear when it comes to jalapeno poppers. They’re already hollowed out before preparation, so they’ve already lost much of their spice. That said, if you absolutely can’t stand spicy food, it might be best to steer clear.

  • What’s the best way to enjoy a popper?

    As stated above, you can enjoy it best when it’s piping hot, and when you use a cold dip to get the job done. Something like ranch would be perfect for jalapeno poppers.

  • What makes jalapeno poppers so good?

    It mostly comes from the great combination of flavors. It’s a layered experience, and there are some subtleties even if it might not be the most complex snack.

  • Can I get a stomachache from jalapeno poppers?

    It’s possible to get a stomach ache from most types of peppers if you eat too much of it. While it depends on how your stomach can take it, it’s never a bad idea to snack in moderation!

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