Whether you’re a restaurant owner or just a fan of refreshment, you know that when Cinco de Mayo rolls around it’s time to fire up the frozen margarita machine. Frozen margaritas are among the most popular cocktails in the United States, and there’s no doubt that consumption spikes considerably on the fifth of May. But did you know that the frozen margarita machine also has another reason to celebrate in May? In fact, May 11 marks the anniversary of the invention of the world’s first frozen margarita machine – a machine that now rests at Smithsonian’s National Museum in Washington, DC – and this year that machine turns forty.
The frozen margarita machine was created by Mariano Martinez, a young entrepreneur and owner of Dallas Tex-Mex restaurant Mariano’s Mexican Cuisine, and first made its debut in 1971. Modeled after a similar non-alcoholic frosty treat dispenser, the Slurpee machine, Mariano marketed his invention as Mariano’s Cool Creation. As margaritas and Tex-Mex cuisine both rocketed to popularity across the 1970s and 1980s, Mariano’s invention became invaluable to restaurants across the country.
Exactly how big is the frozen margarita machine’s contribution to society? The Smithsonian Museum seems to think it was pretty huge: last September the museum released a list of the Top Ten American Inventions. Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb ranked #1 on the list; Mariano’s Cool Creation came in at #10.
According to a relatedpress release, Smithsonian Museum director Brent Glass called the invention "a classic example of the American entrepreneurial spirit,” with the release going on to note that the machine helped make margaritas become “as standard as chips and salsa” at Tex-Mex restaurants.
So if you own a frozen margarita machine, show it some extra love this month. If you just plan on enjoying a few for Cinco de Mayo, remember that it wasn’t so long ago that frozen margaritas were much harder to come by, and take a little extra time to savor this Mexican-inspired drink that is, quite literally, an American institution.