Ay Güey Brings the World of Sweet and Salty Mexican Snacks To Thornton

With a full month under its belt, Ay Güey Mexican Snacks in Thornton serves up traditional Mexican sweet treats in one family-owned package. But it’s more than just that — it’s also a real-life American dream for its owners, the Bailons.

The Bailon family — headed by Jesus and Isabel Bailon and sisters, Annaly and Jazel Bailon moved to Colorado in 2005. With Annaly’s grandparents and uncle already establishing roots in Colorado, it seemed like the easiest and most familiar place for the Bailons to call home. Hailing from Chihuahua, Mexico, the traditional snacks offered at Ay Güey mirror a lot of the same comfort foods you can find in that area. 

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The budding idea to open a Mexican snack store collectively came to mind while on a family vacation. Though each family member already had established full-time jobs, they all chose to create a space that would make people feel like they are in Mexico with one sweet or spicy treat. Each snack on the menu transports the Bailon sisters to their childhood — that same feeling is felt through their handcrafted snacks.

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By taking well-known desserts like ice cream and infusing them with Mexican flavors like chile mango, chicle (chewing gum), pepino limón y chile, chile-lime cucumber and Gansito (Mexican jelly-filled cookies) the menu offers a safe space for both Mexican flavors and American traditions.

In other cultures, shaved ice or snow cones are flavored with syrups and scooped in a bowl. In Chihuahua, Mexico, the snow cone version is a Raspado. Still made with shaved ice but blended very fine and served as a beverage. At Ay Güey the drink comes in four different flavors—  nuez (nut), mango, piña colada, strawberry cream or banana cream.

According to Annaly, this wouldn’t be a Mexican snack shop without traditional Mexican drinks like agua frescas. These fresh fruit drinks are typically blended with water, lime juice and a bit of sweetener. At Ay Güey, the agua frescas are made daily with sweet cream and fresh fruit like the Frutas Agua Fresca made with chopped apples, strawberries and cantaloupe along with the horchata agua fresca. There is also a dairy-free option — the cucumber lime agua fresca. While this agua fresca has a required taste, it is ultimately crisp and refreshing.

Ay Concha Sandwich

On a similar note, conchas are a must-have. These Mexican sweetbreads are a staple at Ay Güey — but instead of selling them singularly, the conchas are used to sandwich scoops of ice cream like toasted coconut, pistachio, banana Nutella or tequila-infused ice cream. 

Sweet treats aside, the shop also offers some spicy and savory snacks as well. The authentic chips and candy are directly imported from Mexico and used to create popular snacks like Tostilocos — a popular Mexican street food with Tostitos tortilla chips, peanuts, chopped cucumber, jicama, lime juice, Chamoy and hot sauce, the Flamin’ Hot Elote — is Mexican sweet corn, mayonnaise, crema, chili powder, Cotija cheese and crushed Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and the Flamin’ Dog is a hot dog topped with nacho cheese, elote and crushed Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

While Ay Güey Mexican Snacks is still new to Colorado, the Bailon family hopes to continue their American Dream and open more locations — while possibly expanding the menu to add classic street tacos.

Ay Güey Mexican Snacks is located 3947 E. 120th Ave., Thornton. It’s open Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

All Photography By Marla Keown

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