The Aztecs first made guacamole prior to the 16th century. Early guacamole was made purely of avocado. The modern name derives from the Nahuati word, āhuacamolli. Āhuacamolli literally translates to “avocado sauce”. Guacamole became incredibly popular in Mesoamerican society because of the abnormal nutritional value of avocados. Avocados have a very high fat and protein content for a fruit. Diets in the society had a relatively low fat content and as such it became a vital element of the diet of the people native to its habitat. In addition, the Aztecs believed guacamole to be an aphrodisiac, further increasing its popularity. As Europeans arrived, they too enjoyed the dish even going as far as to attempt to replicate it with substitutes for the avocado. However, the substitutes failed to reach the same level of popularity, and European interest in the avocado grew dramatically.

Many of the staples of modern guacamole, including the avocado, the tomato, and onions are native to the Americas, and base of Guacamole dates back to the Aztecs’ consumption of mashed avocado, which began long before contact with Europeans. Despite these deep roots, however, the Columbian exchange provided new flavors to this traditional recipe. Ingredients commonly added to Guacamole today, such as garlic and cumin, came first from southern Asia to Europe, then to America through the Columbian exchange. The Persian lime, now a staple to many a guacamole recipe, originated in southern Asia, was produced in large scale in the Middle East, and reached Western Europe around the time of the crusades. Finally, in 1493, it was introduced to the Americas by Columbus on his second journey. 

Despite its origins in Central America, guacamole has been assimilated into American culture. In fact, it is one of the most widely consumed products during the Super Bowl, one of the most significant events in contemporary American culture. This is impressive, especially given that the Super Bowl is not during the typical growing season of avocados, its primary ingredient. One of the main reasons for this rise in popularity is that a NAFTA agreement in the early 90s allowed for avocados to flow freely into the U.S. in the winter from Meso-American countries. by 2008, Mexico was the “largest supplier of avocados to the U.S” [1]. This led to guacamole’s prominence in the United States. In this way, one can trace the route of guacamole’s history from the Aztecs to the Spaniards to modern-day Americans. 

Our group wished to focus on a guacamole recipe that incorporated ingredients familiar to 21st century Americans. Everyone has her favorite type of guacamole: whether it’s from Chipotle, Estrellita’s, or her mother’s kitchen. Almost all guacamole recipes vary in one small unique way or another, but every familiar recipe contains a few necessary staples: a dash of lime to taste, onions, tomatoes, perhaps some chilies for spice, and of course, plenty of avocados. The recipe our group ultimately chose incorporates all of these elements, as well as ground cumin and cilantro leaves. By choosing a recipe that would resonate with all American guacamole-lovers, our readers can trace the now commonplace ingredients back to their origins. We recognize guacamole as a Mexican delicacy, but by researching each individual component of the dish we can pinpoint the specific countries and time period from which all of the ingredients came. This proves to be a fascinating study of the immense diversity found in one seemingly simple ethnic treat.



[1] Greenaway, Twilight. "How Did Avocados Become the Official Super Bowl Food?" Smithsonian. January 30, 2013. Accessed November 11, 2014.


Graham Bass (cilantro), Sam Davey (chile), Joey DiBella (onion), Cat Gallagher (tomato), MaryKate Glenn (avocado), Pat Nally (lime)