Mariquitas, platanitos, tajadas, and chifles are all different ways of saying plantain chips. The popular crunchy food can be paired as a side dish, mixed into a sandwich, or eaten straight out of the bag as a snack.
In South Florida, you can find these chips almost anywhere, but according to the owner of Miami-based snack company Chifles, not all plantain chips are created equal. Tony Rivas Jr. believes his product stands out among the rest, and a recent analysis by market-research firm IRI Worldwide shows consumers agree.
The data analysis, based on earnings, ranked Chifles number one in the nation against its competitors.
"It’s a point of pride to be ranked the number 1 plantain chip in the country," Rivas Jr. said. "For us it’s more than just being ranked number 1. It is all the hard work and effort and the legacy behind this brand."
Inspired by vendors who sold plantain chips on the streets of Havana, Cuba, Segundo and Peggy Argudo founded Chifles in Tampa in 1963.
Shortly after arriving from Cuba, Tony Rivas Sr. began distributing Chifles with Borges Distributors. Rivas Jr. followed in his dad’s footsteps and after a long relationship with the original founders of Chifles, the Argudo’s sold the plantain chip company to the Rivas family in 2017.
Just four months after the company changed hands, tragedy struck and they lost nearly everything in an accidental fire. They rallied together to rebuild in Miami, FL after this devastating loss and rebranded while also staying true to the original product.
"I think the future is bright. What I want Chifles to be known for today is continuing to push the envelope when it comes to snacking and specifically in plantains. We want to show the versatility of the product so it’s not only mami and papi and abuela eating it, but that next generation seeing we can do different things with it and we can use it in different dishes,” said Rivas Jr.
Since the Rivas family acquired the company, Chifles has added numerous products to their lineup. The most recent addition are the plantain sticks, similar to potato sticks, that can be put inside a frita, a hamburger, or a hot dog for that extra flavor and crunch.
"I think that crunch, that saltiness, that savory with that hint of sweet, it just goes well with everything," said Rivas.