Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Rhoads. Rhoads Wonders, “Burro means donkey in Spanish, so why is Burrito food, not little donkey?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Rhoads!

After a hard day at school followed by a workout at soccer practice, you finally make it home. As you barge through the front door, the spicy scent of dinner cooking greets your nostrils. What smells so delicious?

You breathe deeply through your nose, taking in the scents emanating from the kitchen. You detect beef, spices, cheese, and veggies. Could it be your favorite handheld meal? As you round the corner into the kitchen, you lay eyes on a plate filled with rolled tortillas stuffed with all sorts of tasty ingredients. What are we talking about? Yummy burritos!

You might already know what a burrito is. It’s a yummy food from Mexico and Texas. It’s made by wrapping a flour tortilla around some tasty ingredients—like beans, meat, and cheese. The tortilla holds everything in a cylinder shape. Burritos are like a sandwich, they’re easy to eat on the go.

Burritos can be made many ways since people like different things. There are so many types of burritos because everyone who likes burritos has their own favorite kind.

Some burritos are simple and only have meat—like beef, chicken, or pork—and refried beans. Other burritos are more complicated and have lots of different things, like cheese, rice, black or pinto beans, veggies, lettuce, salsa, guacamole, and sour cream.

People who study history aren’t certain when the burrito was first made. Some think it started in the late 1800s and early 1900s—during the Mexican Revolution. Others say that people have been using tortillas to wrap food for hundreds, or even thousands of years.

Even more puzzling is how burritos got their name. If you know much Spanish, you may have WONDERed about burritos before. In Spanish, a burro is a donkey and the diminutive form of the word — burrito — translates to “little donkey.”

Some believe the name stems from a Mexican man named Juan Mendez who sold meat and beans wrapped in a flour tortilla from a cart pulled by a donkey. Customers loved his creation and would wait impatiently every day for the “burrito” to arrive with the food they enjoyed.

Others believe that the name could come from the fact that burritos resemble donkey ears. Still others think burritos instead look like the bed rolls and packs often seen on the backs of working donkeys.

No one is exactly sure how the burrito got its name, but we do know it’s an important part of Mexican and Tex-Mex food. Nowadays, burritos can have lots of extra things in them like rice, cheese, salsa, and guacamole. They’re usually wrapped in foil and can be really big. Decades ago, in San Francisco, they started making these really big burritos called “Mission style” burritos, and now lots of fresh Mexican restaurants in the United States make them.

Wonder What's Next?

Tomorrow in Wonderopolis, it’s time to answer an age-old question.