what do Nazis and the world’s favorite ballpark food have in common?

(Note: once again, I’ve put forth a post with quite a few links to Wikipedia to back up my claims. If you can afford to do so, donating to Wikipedia would be a tremendous thing to do.)

The Latin word for fire, ignus, has been derived over the ages into the name Ignatius, meaning born of fire, and later into the Spanish Ignacio and the German Ignaz. During the early 20th century in southern Germany and Austria, this latter name became colloquially synonymous with a backwards, foolish person, similarly to how one might pejoratively use the name Karen today (as far as I can tell, the linguistic similarity between “Ignaz” and “ignorant” is pure coincidence).

On July 30, 1932 the President of the Weimar Republic, Paul von Hindenburg, invoked article 48 of the German constitution, which allowed the government of the free state of Prussia to be taken over by the Chancellor and subsequently handed to the Minister of the Armed Forces.

This is a mustache that has seen much
Paul von Hindenburg, and the substantial mustache from which he drew his power. By Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-C06886 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5432793

The takeover was known as the Preußenschlag, or 1932 Prussian coup d’état. This was a significant event in world history, as it is widely accepted to have been one of the contributing factors (among many others) that led President von Hindenburg to eventually hand the Chancellorship of Germany to this man:

Seriously, it's like a gross little patch of mold on his lip
What a stupid little mustache. By Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H1216-0500-002 / CC-BY-SA, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5780403

This guy, along with his much less impressive mustache, was the then-leader of a right-wing authoritarian political party in Germany known as the National Socialist German Workers Party. The main political rivals of this party were the Social Democrats, often called Sozis, an abbreviation of the German word Sozialdemokrat. These rivals, along with others, sought to diminish the public image of the National Socialists by painting them in the press as backwards, foolish bumpkins. To do this, they started to use the name (you guessed it) Ignaz.

Now, its important to know that the German convention for pet names or nicknames often entails shortening a part of the name and adding an “-ee” (written with an i) or “-l” sound to the end. For example: Michael becomes Michi, Gertraude becomes Traudl, and so on. In this same fashion, the shortened form of the name Ignaz took the last part of the name and added an “i” to become Nazi. The name quickly caught on as a perjorative term for the National Socialists, likely also because it functioned as a snappy abbreviation of the party’s name, similar to the Social Democrats’ Sozi.

One evening in 1940 (the year Nazis invaded France) on the other side of the world, this man was working as a chef at the Victory Club in Piedras Negras. Mexico.

Not much in the way of visible mustachery here, but the spirit is there.
The person who took the photo is unknown, however Ignacio Anaya was the person who purchased it. Luis Ignacio Anaya inherited it after his grandfather’s death. – This file came from Luis Ignacio Anaya, the grandson of Ignacio Anaya. He is the owner of the file and gives Wikimedia permission to use it., CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=93017401

This is Ignacio Anaya García, whose first name is the Hispanic-derived version of Ignatius, and he was about to make history of a very different kind. One of the regulars at the Victory Club, one Mamie Finan, had asked Ignacio to make a something for herself and her companions that was new and unique. Drawing on his years of culinary experience, he put together a plate of fried corn tortillas, pickled jalapeños, and melted cheese.

These are a bit historically inaccurate, as they also have black olives and salsa, but my mouth won’t care. By chee.hong from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5329327

Mamie and her friends loved the dish and asked Ignacio what it was called. Thinking quickly, he suggested it be named after himself. In those days, however, he was not generally known as Ignacio but instead went by a common short-form of the name: Nacho. Thus, the dish became known as Nacho’s Special, which we know today as simply Nachos. To this day, the town of Piedras Negras celebrates a Nacho Festival every October in honor of Ignacio’s invention.

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve realized a direct, etymological connection between authoritarian ideologies and delicious Mexican food, I’d have two nickels. That’s not a lot but it is weird that it happened twice.


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