The second-graders sent an e-mail to Flores' office requesting the measure; however, since none of them had donated their weekly allowances to Flores' political campaign, it was questionable whether the representative would sponsor the legislation.

But Flores, a Democrat from Mission, was impressed by the students' chutzpah. "What a motivated young group of Texans that want to get themselves into the process in this day of voter apathy," says Richard Sanchez, Flores' chief of staff. "We wrote them back and said we'd do it, but we added salsa to make it a complete snack."

Sanchez says not many people oppose the bill, but adds, "There are a few folks who ask why we're wasting our time on something so trivial when we have insurance problems, a budget deficit, and other issues. But they don't know this is about education and getting kids involved in the process."

To pass any laws regarding symbols or special days, the sponsoring legislator must prove it is culturally or economically beneficial. "Tortilla chips have it all in their ingredients," notes Sanchez. "Culture, history, and economy."

If the bill becomes law, tortilla chips would acquire the same symbolic status as the bluebonnet, Texas' state flower, and the 10-15 onion, the state vegetable. Under Texas law, it is illegal to pick so many bluebonnets as to "deface" the overall look of a patch. It is unclear if it will be against the law to defile chips through double dipping or eating an entire bag.

Tortilla chips rank second to potato chips in the amount of salty snack foods eaten in the U.S., but residents in the Southwest are the largest consumers of tortilla chips, explains Ann Wilke, vice-president of communications for the Snack Food Association, a trade industry group.

Given recent health statistics, Texans are doubtless the largest tortilla chip consumers. According to Men's Fitness magazine, four of the top 10 fattest cities are in Texas: Houston (1), Dallas (5), San Antonio (7), and Fort Worth (8).

Perhaps the third grade can push for rice cakes instead.

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