In the 70's, the margarita surpassed the martini as the most popular American cocktail and salsa surpassed ketchup as the most-used American condiment. Today, Mexican cuisine, in all its modified, regionalized, commercialized, and even highly processed varieties, has become as American as apple pie. Mariano Martinez, a young Texas entrepreneur, and his frozen margarita machine were at the crossroads of that revolution. The margarita was first made on the California-Mexican border, and became associated with the service of Mexican food, particularly, with one of its variants, Tex-Mex, a regional cuisine that became popular all across the United States. In 1971, Martinez adapted a soft serve ice cream machine to create the world's first frozen margarita machine for his new Dallas restaurant, Mariano's Mexican Cuisine. With their blenders hard-pressed to produce a consistent mix for the newly popular drink they made from Mariano's father's recipe, his bartenders were in rebellion. Then came inspiration in the form of a Slurpee machine at a 7-Eleven, a machine invented in Dallas in 1960 to make carbonated beverages slushy enough to drink through a straw. The soft-serve ice cream machine that Martinez adapted to serve his special drink was such a success that, according to Martinez, "it brought bars in Tex-Mex restaurants front and center. People came to Mariano's for that frozen margarita out of the machine." Never patented, many versions of the frozen margarita machine subsequently came into the market. After 34 years of blending lime juice, tequila, ice, and sugar for enthusiastic customers, the world's first frozen margarita machine was retired to the Smithsonian.
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