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El Chico Margarita Glass with Souvenir Garter, about 1980

El Chico Margarita Glass with Souvenir Garter, about 1980

Usage conditions apply
In the 1980s Tex-Mex themed restaurants expanded in the U.S. To cater to customers, restaurateurs created themed menus and drinks. Promotional materials helped popularize the frozen margarita, making it even more common in the U.S. than traditional cocktails like the martini.
After migrating with her family from Mexico to Texas in the 1890s, Adelaida Cuellar began selling her handmade tamales at her county fair. In 1928, she opened a neighborhood restaurant, which her family expanded in the 1950s into the El Chico Tex-Mex restaurant chain. From the 1960s to the ‘80s, El Chico was also one of many companies marketing its own brands of canned and frozen foods to be distributed through grocery stores. By the 1990s, the Cuellars owned more than 100 El Chico restaurants.
The Cuellars were among the early entrepreneurs who helped transform Tex-Mex food into the most popular and widespread form of Mexican American cuisine. Hundreds of Tex-Mex-style restaurants opened across the United States, competing with other regional variations such as Cal-Mex, Sonoran Mex, and New Mex–Mex. Tex-Mex imitators thrived in small restaurants and fast-food chain outlets such as Taco Bell. Central American restaurants also added familiar Tex-Mex dishes and drinks to their menus.
Object Name
Physical Description
lace; thread; elastic; ribbon (overall material)
overall: 1 1/4 in x 4 1/2 in x 2 3/4 in; 3.175 cm x 11.43 cm x 6.985 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
gift of Carmen Summers
Food Culture
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Food Technology
Food: Transforming the American Table
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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