ORGULLO LATINOReading time: 5 minutes
Sure, you’ve heard of Coca-Cola, but have you ever tried a Jarrito?
It’s not exactly a secret that Latinos are proud of their home-grown products. And with good reason.
While we enjoy Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, and Lea & Perrins (we’re looking at you, El Salvador) as much as anyone else, our region also has its own adored food brands.
And although some international companies try, Latino brands are the only ones capable of triggering the most nostalgic memories. After all, who else could make sofrito or corn flour ‘the right way’?
Whether you're looking for a taste of home or you’re simply here to learn more about Latino foods, here’s the lowdown on the top Latino food brands.
So familiar that it's become a meme, hot chocolate brand Chocolate Abuelita warms and soothes the souls of Latinos around the world.
Its iconic logo bears the face of Sara García, an actress from the golden age of Mexican cinema. Just like grandma, she raises a cup of hot chocolate to her lips while inviting you to share stories (and, of course, chisme) at the table.
The Mexican-style hot chocolate is a sweet, soothing mix of chocolate, sugar, and cinnamon. But people outside the country also love Chocolate Abuelita, which claims its products are made to “apapachar” – or to hug the soul.
Owned by Mexican food giant Grupo Bimbo, Pan Bimbo is the preferred bread brand of the region. Everyone loves the cute little bear in an apron and chef's hat that literally brings bread to the table.
The brand was established in 1945 and still dominates the bread market in Latin America. Of course, it sells all kinds of bread but you can also find tortillas and sweet breads.
Pan Bimbo has a presence in almost every country from Mexico to Ecuador. And even as far as Spain.
Mayorga Coffee has been helping people start their day with a delicious kick since 1996.
Martin Mayorga founded the brand after living in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Peru, and the US. His broad experience of Latin America revealed the profound inequality in the industry that affected coffee growers.
To change this, Mayorga Coffee partners with organic coffee producers rather than simply buying from them. The company also ensures that producers are paid fairly for their labor regardless of the coffee market's ups and downs.
In addition to a range of single origin coffees and signature blends, Mayorga Coffee also sells chia seeds, quinoa and black beans.
If you buy a dairy product in Colombia, chances are that it's Alpina. The company was founded in 1945 by Swiss immigrants escaping the horrors of World War II (hence the name).
Over time, it became the country's favored brand for milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products like arequipe, Colombia's version of dulce de leche.
As of 2015, Alpina accounted for 72% of lactose beverages in Colombia. Production has also expanded to Ecuador, Venezuela, and the US. Its products are sold in said countries and throughout Central America.
Also a part of the aforementioned Grupo Bimbo, Marinela focuses on packaged sweets that have fueled our children for decades. Their deserts are overly sugary, bordering on sinful, and oh-so-delicious. Even people who usually stay away from this kind of product can't resist the call of a Gansito Marinela.
We are as obsessed with Marinela sweets as the US is with pop tarts. Except one is objectively better than the other – and I don't have to explain which one.
Coca-Cola may have the entire world in a chokehold but when Mexicans want to be patriotic, they reach for colorful Jarritos.
Meaning "little jars," this Mexican soda brand offers different fruit flavors, including mango, fruit punch, pineapple, mandarin, and more. You'll find them at any corner store in Mexico and in the US at any Mexican restaurant worth its salt.
They are delicious.
What started as a co-op of 25 dairy farmers is now the number-one food brand in Costa Rica. Boasting a portfolio of more than 600 brands and a presence all over Central America and the Hispanic Caribbean, Dos Pinos is a company to be reckoned with.
People outside of the region are unlikely to recognize it. But in any given Costa Rican supermarket, you won't be able to walk down a single aisle without seeing at least one of its products.
Besides dairy, Dos Pinos is known for cheeses, ice cream and sweets.
Corn flour is an essential ingredient in the cuisine of many Latin American countries, particularly Venezuela and Colombia. The issue is that making flour is long and labor intensive, which is why Venezuelan engineer Luis Caballero Mejías invented pre-made flour.
When his product was eventually released as Harina P.A.N, it changed the lives of arepa and tortilla-lovers everywhere. Sure, countless brands now sell this type of flour but the original still has a hold on the market, expanding from as far as Argentina to the US.
Though not widely known outside of Guatemala, Malher has impacted food consumption in the country in more ways than one.
This once family owned company was the first in the country to offer gelatin that didn't need to be refrigerated and ready-made soup flavoring. At the time – 1957 – these were revolutionary.
While most people know them for their chicken soups and condiments, the company also unexpectedly influenced cuquitos, flavored popsicles sold in the street.
In Guatemala, this refreshing snack came about thanks to Malher's kukitos, which were flavored powders added to water to make sugary drinks. It didn't take long for street vendors to freeze the liquid, creating the refreshing popsicle that kids reach for after school.
Though it's technically a US brand, Goya forms part of the fabric of our lives.
Owned by the same Spanish immigrant family for three generations, the company sells various staple foods from Latin America, from beans to rice, sofrito, and Maria cookies. If you're a Latino in the US, you probably have Goya in your pantry.
You’ll find Goya in specialty markets but also in most major supermarkets around the country.
In areas with a low percentage of Latinos, its products are likely in the ethnic section but in places like Miami or Houston, it dominates practically every aisle.
Where would we be without Maggi's famous chicken soup cubes and seasonings? I wouldn't want to know. The brand has augmented the region’s definition of good instant soup.
And yet, Maggi is actually Swiss, which is like finding out that Papá Noel doesn’t exist. Still, I doubt Swiss people appreciate Maggi as we do, so we'll give it honorable Latin food brand status and include it here. Its chicken soup got us through many colds throughout our lives, so it's only fair.
And that’s it! Our favorite Latino food brands that no Latino household can be without. Let us know if we’ve missed any essentials from your childhood!