National Museum of American History Acquires Frozen Margarita Machine

September 27, 2005
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History announced today that it has acquired the world’s first frozen margarita machine, invented on May 11, 1971 by Dallas restaurateur Mariano Martinez. The machine will join hundreds of other innovations in the museum’s collections, including Tupperware wonder bowls and a Krispy Kreme Ring King. “The invention of the frozen margarita machine is a classic example of the American entrepreneurial spirit,” said museum director Brent D. Glass. “This story is told through many of our collections, revolutionary or mundane, from the light bulb to the can opener.” More than 30 years ago, Martinez modified a soft-serve ice cream machine into the first frozen margarita machine, which created a mass-produced and consistent beverage. Prompted by increased customer demand, the young restaurant owner was inspired by a frozen drink machine he saw at a local convenience store. Frozen margaritas have been around since the invention of the blender in the 1930s but bartenders were often overwhelmed when demand was high, and the blenders produced margaritas of varying quality and consistency. “Improved consistency, overall better product and ease of use due to the frozen margarita machine, made the drink so popular that it brought bars in Tex-Mex restaurants front and center,” said Martinez. “People came to Mariano’s for that frozen margarita out of the machine.” Martinez incidentally developed his machine at the forefront of the Tex-Mex food movement. Tex-Mex is now an American favorite and margaritas are a standard together with salsa and tortilla chips. Martinez continued serving his famous margaritas for the next 34 years, eventually retiring the original machine in favor of the new mass-produced machines. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The National Museum of American History traces American heritage through exhibitions of social, cultural, scientific and technological history. Collections are displayed in exhibitions that interpret the American experience from Colonial times to the present. The museum is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., except Dec. 25. For more information, visit the museum’s Web site at http://americanhistory.si.edu or call (202) 633-1000.