Hispanic snacks and their delicious but often dark history

It isn’t just America that has a craving for junk food. Globally, about $374 billion are spent on snack foods each year. But what exactly…

Guía de Regalos

Snack foods around the world vary just as much as the people of those nations do. (Shutterstock)

It isn’t just America that has a craving for junk food. Globally, about $374 billion are spent on snack foods each year. But what exactly are people eating and buying? Well, different countries do junk food in their own unique way, so it depends on where you go. Check out the favorite snacks from different Hispanic countries and the sometimes dark and dangerous history hidden underneath the plastic packaging surface.

SEE ALSO: The trick to avoid snacking while watching TV

1. Mexico

The Coca Cola in Mexico was originally made without high fructose corn syrup but critics say that nowadays the recipes are the same.

The Coca Cola in Mexico was originally made without high fructose corn syrup but critics say that nowadays the recipes are the same. (GreenPlasticAmy/Flickr)

For some reason, the Coca Cola in Mexico tastes better than the American version of the soda. This is because Mexican Coke uses real cane sugar, while American coke is sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup.

The US government subsidizes corn and huge tariffs are placed on cane-sugar imports, both factors that contributed heavily to the slightly different recipe.

However, in recent times free trade has shaken things up a bit. Since the beginning of NAFTA in 1994, subsidized American corn has been flooding into Mexico, and some critics have accused their delicious Mexican Coke of containing HFCS.

So get those delicious glass bottles while you still can! The unique flavor may soon be gone.

2. Honduras

Zambos may be delicious but they have a dark and violent past.

Zambos are a favorite in Honduras. They may be delicious but they have a dark and violent past. (Dinant Corporation official website)

The most popular chips in Honduras, Zambos, actually have a very dark past.

The word “zambos” were originally racial terms used in the Spanish and Portuguese Empires but today some would argue it is a racist term to describe mixed race people.

The company that makes Zambos, the Dinant Corporation, has been accused of being involved in many controversies through the years, including violence, theft, and corruption. While there is no definite proof, many believe its owner, Miguel Facussé may have been at the center of the violent Honduran coup in 2009.

Despite its ugly history, Zambos are still incredibly popular among the population and are made in a variety of flavors including taro and sweet potato, cassava and pork rinds, and any flavored plantain chip you could ever want.

3. Brazil

Americans love their apple pie but Brazilians would choose a banana pie any day.

Americans love their apple pie but Brazilians would choose a banana pie any day. (McDonald’s Brazil website)

Brazilians love their bananas. Don’t be so dirty minded, I’m talking about the fruit.

Brazil isn’t the world’s largest banana producer, but because they export so little of what they grow as a country, they have an extremely high consumption rate. They’re about as popular as apples are here in the U.S.

Which brings me to McDonald’s banana pie! The fast-food chain only offers this delicious dessert menu item in Brazil. Guess they know their audience pretty well.

Personally, I think the Brazilians got it right. If their junk food is mostly made of one of the healthiest foods out there, no wonder they’ve all got healthy rocking beach bodies.

4. Chile

These unique and flavorful chips combine aspects from European as well as Latin cultures.

These unique and flavorful chips combine aspects from European as well as Latin cultures. (Tika Chips official website)

Latin America has a long history with colonialim and so many countries combine European cuisine with their own native flavors and tastes. Chile is one such country.

Chile’s popular Tika Chips use merken, a smoked chili pepper common in Mapuche cuisine. The Mapuche people live in the southern Patagonia region.

The chips have become incredibly popular throughout the country, but like the Zambos, they hide some details that speak of political tensions.

Soon after democracy was restored in 1993, a new law was approved that obligated the Chilean government to gradually return land to its indigenous peoples. Far from satisfying the Mapuches, the process has brought on further claims, land seizures and violence.

5. Spain

The original packaging of Conguitos features a character meant to look like a black person from the Congo. The design remained unchanged for quite some time, as Spaniards saw no problem with the design.

The original packaging of Conguitos remained unchanged for quite some time, as Spaniards saw no problem with the design. (Conguitos official website)

Conguitos are the Spanish version of M&Ms chocolate candies. Sounds simple enough. What could possibly go wrong with chocolate-covered peanuts?

Well let’s start with the name. Conguito bears an important resemblance to Congo and anything with an “ito” at the end just means little. Ok so “little Congo” isn’t too offensive. It’s the picture drawn on each packet that really takes the cake.

The original packaging showed a character that was intended to look like a black person, most likely a Congolese, with huge red lips and holding a spear in his hand.

Just a tad bit racist don’t you think? If you’re still in doubt, check out an old commercial for the chocolates below.

The logo’s evident racism has caused many to call for the logo to be changed including María Frías, a university professor at the University of A Coruña, who is a specialist in Afroamerican literature. She said that given the “racist message it conveys, insulting the thousands of African migrants living in Spain… [it] serves only to promote and perpetuate the negative stereotypes associated with African people.”

The logo went through two makeovers.

Conguitos Spain

The first change of Conguitos packaging eliminated the spear but kept the character the same. (Conguitos official website)

The first change was barely noticeable. The only difference was the little person no longer held a spear.

The most recent makeover of the Conguitos character came about after many people were upset by the blatant racism of the product.

The most recent makeover of the Conguitos character came about after many people were upset by the blatant racism of the product. (Conguitos official website)

Eventually the big, red lips were removed and the character was given a more abstract or weird figure.

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