Awesome Things You Didn’t Know Mexico Gave the World

Contraceptive Pill
Contraceptive Pill

Northern England Writer

Everyone knows that Mexico gave the world guacamole, tortillas, mariachi and pulque, not to mention tequila and mezcal, but what other inventions and discoveries can be traced back to this North American country? Here are some of the most awesome things you had no idea Mexico gave the world, from the Mesoamerican peoples to the modern day. Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.


Bowl with popcorn

If you know how much Mexicans love their maize (corn), it makes sense that the Zapotec peoples would have been the brains behind everyone’s favourite cinema snack – popcorn. Afterwards, it fell into the hands of Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés by way of the Aztecs. These popped kernels were known as momochtli. They were made in hot clay pots, and not in the microwave.

Chewing Gum

Chewing gums

Many are surprised to hear that we can thank Mexico for the invention of chewing gum. First stumbled upon by the Mayans, who extracted the sap that was originally used to make chewing gum (‘chicle’) from trees, the Aztecs found a more practical use for it – they used the sticky substance to hold things together: a type of ancient Blu-Tack, if you will.



Mexico certainly isn’t short of world-famous spirits and alcoholic beverages; however, most people don’t realise that the delicious coffee liqueur Kahlúa is Mexican in origin. It was invented in Veracruz and, interestingly, once had an all-female executive board.

Oral Contraceptives

Contraceptive Pill

If you’ve ever taken or benefited from the use of oral contraceptives, you’ve got Mexican Luis Miramontes to thank, at least in part. In 1951, he was a 26-year-old chemistry graduate, and synthesised one of the key elements, the progestin norethindrone, which would later become the active ingredient in the first three oral contraceptive pills. This remarkable discovery led to Miramontes being known as the ‘father of the pill’.

Anti-Graffiti Paint

Graffiti could be a thing of the past, thanks to Mexico

As recently as the early 2000s, researchers and developers at UNAM’s Applied Physics and Advanced Technology Centre in Querétaro came up with an anti-graffiti paint, Deletum 3000. This biodegradable product, which sounds remarkably like a spell from Harry Potter, prevents anything wet or oily from adhering to it, and so leaves spray paint unable to grip the wall.

Indelible Ink

Just ten years before Mexican researchers were working to combat graffiti, another group were inventing indelible ink. Oh, the irony. A key element in the prevention of electoral fraud, this ink is soaked into the skin and remains there for 24 hours, ensuring that another vote cannot be cast by the same person. Having been introduced to the Mexican election process in 1994, Filiberto Vázquez Dávila’s indelible ink has since been used in other countries, including Honduras and the Dominican Republic.

Earthquake Resistant Foundations

They say that necessity is the mother of all invention, and this has never been truer than in the case of Mexican engineer Manuel González Flores’ remarkable piece of technology: control pilings, a.k.a. earthquake resistant foundations. Invented in the late 40s and early 50s, these foundations adapt to the movement of the building, rather than remaining rigid, which makes them exceptionally useful in cities with a high earthquake risk and unstable foundations. Cities exactly like the Mexican capital, in fact.

Colour Television

A skull and an old television

Yes, colour television was invented by a Mexican: Guillermo González Camarena. He was only 22 when he introduced his self-built colour TV to the country in 1940, and he was to later come up with a ‘trichomatic, field-sequential system’ and ‘improved chromoscopic adapter’ which helped enable the colour transmissions. In 1942 he obtained the patent, and in 1946, he finally screened colour images direct from his Mexico City lab.

Tortilla Machine

Tortilla made from young white corn, on a wooden table

We all know that the tortilla is a Mexican invention, but did you know the tortilla machine was too? Created by Fausto Celorio Mendoza in 1947, this automated tortilla machine revolutionised the time taken to produce these staple dietary discs, eventually being able to produce 130kg of tortillas per hour in 1959. By 1975, 200kg of tortillas per hour were being pumped out of the machines that bear their inventor’s name.

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos


Believed by many to be the best snack of all time, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos were invented by a Mexican immigrant called Richard Montañez, who is now one of PepsiCo’s executive vice presidents. At the time, he was working as a janitor in the Frito-Lay factory, when the elote-inspired idea for a chili-dusted Cheeto occurred to him. He pitched the idea to his superiors, they approved it, and it’s now their biggest-selling product.


Dark chocolate

Don’t let the Belgians throw you off with this one: as chocolate was invented (or should that be discovered?) in Mexico, way back in the Mesoamerican period. Pretty much everyone agrees that it was likely the Olmecs who developed this popular treat from cocoa beans, drinking it as a fermented beverage, before the Mayans created hot chocolate and the Aztecs savoured it cold and bitter. It was only sweetened with sugar once it began to be exported to Europe.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,656 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article