Tacos are our specialty at Los Reyes Street Tacos, but like all self-respecting Mexican restaurants, we serve another traditional street food: burritos. Burritos are a staple of Mexican cuisine, and if you haven’t tried our Birria Burrito, you’re really missing out.
But have you ever wondered why burritos are called “burritos”? If you remember your basic Spanish vocabulary, you’ll know that burro means “donkey” and the suffix –ito means “little.” So, if we put those together, we get “little donkey.” But that’s a weird name for a food. We don’t know exactly where the name comes from, but there are three different stories that people usually cite to explain it.
Sonoran Traveling Food
The people of Sonora, Mexico, did a lot of traveling on foot back in the day, and they needed a way to take their food with them. Their solution was to invent the burrito. They wrapped the ingredients in a tortilla and took them on their journeys. Because they often traveled with donkeys, they named their new culinary creation after them, hence “burritos.”
Stay Fed During the Mexican Revolution
There is a similar but slightly more detailed story from the time of the Mexican Revolution. In the 1910s, a street vendor named Juan Méndez wanted to keep his food warm on the road, so he wrapped his meal in a tortilla. He realized this method not only kept the food warm but it was also delicious. Plus, it was easy to transport the meal on his donkey. Just like the Sonorans, he decided to name the food after his beast of burden.
Street Food for School Kids
The last story explaining the origin of the burrito also involves a street vendor, but it only dates back to the 1940s. We don’t know his name, but he sold food near a school in Chihuahua’s largest city, Ciudad Juárez. He wrapped food in tortillas to sell to the schoolchildren. He gave the food the name “burrito” because that was his nickname for the kids. Calling someone a burrito is slang for “slow” or “dimwitted,” be we like to think he meant it affectionately.