Why does everybody love tacos so much? Because they are so good!
Once a humble dish from Mexico, tacos have become an international sensation. No one knows the exact origin, but according to Jeffrey M. Pilcher (a history professor at the University of Minnesota, who has dedicated over 20 years to studying the history, politics, and evolution of Mexican food), we should thank 18th-century Mexican silver miners for inventing our beloved taco.
Since then, tacos have taken the world by storm and become one of America’s most loved foods. They are versatile, colorful, flavorful, ‘portable,’ and incredibly delicious. By now, it’s hard to tell what exactly should be considered a ‘taco filling’ or topping either because if you’re adventurous enough, you can make anything into a taco. There’s a taco flavor for everyone.
What not to love? All the more reason to learn some more fun facts about our darling Mexican hand-held food and wow your friends next taco Tuesday.
America is a taco-loving nation. If you lay 4.5 billion tacos into a line, it would be about 490 000 miles long. You could walk on that taco-paved path to the moon and back. It’s the equivalent of 775 million pounds or two Empire State Buildings if you prefer to estimate weight in architecture.
Norway is number 3 on the list of top taco-loving countries, but they don’t do taco Tuesdays over there. It’s ‘Fredagstaco’ or ‘Friday’s taco”, and has become a cultural phenomenon of the Nordic world. It’s spread to Sweden and is known as “Cosy Friday” and is becoming a thing in Finland as well.
American National Taco Day is October 4 and was officially announced back in 2010. But the origins of this day can be traced back to the 1960s, and a San Antonio journalist with a passion for Mexican cuisine and tongue-in-cheek gifts, Roberto L. Gomez.
As a part of the “Viva Kennedy!” campaign that helped secure Latino votes for JFK, he organized delivery of a 48-pound tamale for the president’s birthday. Each year the gifts became more and more creative. A pinata in ‘62, a huge praline in ‘63, but the most significant PR success came the following year. In 1964 Gomez sent a 55-pound taco to Lyndon B. Johnson and started The National Taco Council. It both promoted Mexican restaurants in San Antonio but also pride in being Mexican. “A culture that produces such a unique culinary masterpiece as the taco, symbol of Mexican foods,” the Council stated in promotional material, “deserves greater recognition.”
Mexico celebrates taco day on March 31 with ‘Dia del Taco.’ After all, the dish is internationally recognized uniquely Mexican cuisine, so it deserves a special day of appreciation.
Hard shells are used for tostadas, not tacos. Crispy tacos are perfectly authentic, and they are called tacos dorados. These traditional crunchy tacos are made with fried tortillas and not the pre-formed U-shaped shells that we call hard taco shells.
First, there were hot dog carts; then ice cream trucks came in the ‘50s; ‘roach coaches’ were at every construction site by the late ‘60s. But it wasn’t until 1974 when Raul Martinez converted an old ice cream truck into America’s first taco truck. It was so successful that he was able to open the first King Taco restaurant after only six months and eventually turned it into a multi-million dollar chain.
Ok, not a planet like Mars or Mercury, but ‘Planet Taco’ is a pretty fantastic book by Jeffrey M. Pilcher. And if you have ever been interested in the history, origins, and americanization of the ubiquitous taco, you should absolutely get it.
Not many foods have a whole encyclopedia dedicated to them! ‘Tacopedia’ is everything you ever wanted to know about tacos and a little more.
Not yet convinced in taco’s legendary status? Then listen to the ‘10000 tacos’ podcast and learn the fascinating stories from its host Isidro Salas, who personally spent more than 10,000 hours not just making but, more importantly, eating tacos.
Taco is the only food with the whole series focused on it. And it’s not one but two seasons already, and season three is coming as well. ‘Taco Chronicles’ celebrates the taco in all its humble glory. It’s truthful, beautiful, and will leave you hungry for tacos.
Over the last several years, tacos went from being just a ‘favorite food’ to becoming straight-up personality descriptions. They have successfully knocked pizza off its pedestal of being a universal signifier of being down-to-earth. The lines are aplenty, and new ones keep coming.
“All I want to hear are three little words... I brought tacos.”
“If you don’t like tacos, I’m nacho type.”
“Don’t buy that girl a drink; buy her a taco. Girls deserve tacos.”
“I enjoy romantic walks to the taco truck.”
“Body type: works out but always says yes to tacos.”
Ranker presented pretty compelling data claiming that it’s safe to say that if you favor Taco Bell over Chipotle, you most likely enjoy Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Batman. Fascinating statistics show that you would be a fan of Hollywood franchise blockbusters. True?
You have seen him in hundreds of movies, always playing tough guys, villains, rebels, sometimes heroes. But did you know that ‘Machete’ himself has built a very successful taco restaurant business? You know it’s no joke when Anthony Bordain himself said, “It’s just really good!” about Trejostacos.
Everyone’s favorite hashtag legally belongs to Taco John’s fast-food chain. And that’s a Tremendous Taco Tale you should absolutely check out!
Some indeed disagree, but according to this article from Forbes, Kansas City’s taco trail is not to be missed.
Meet Tacodile Supreme, the "King of Food Beasts" from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. Tacodile has a head and body of a taco, onion teeth, garlic sauce as saliva, an olive as an eye, red pepper for each of its four legs, and a dark green pepper for its tail.
If you’re a fan, make your own Homestyle Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme.
This is not a joke. In July 2021, spice manufacturer McCormick was looking for a Director of Taco Relations (don’t get too excited, it’s been filled in already). The key responsibilities essentially involved eating tacos around the country and working with McCormick's team to develop new taco recipes and spice blends. They haven’t announced yet who’s the lucky taco guru to have gotten it. But if you’re curious about the job, take a look at this official job description.
This is not a joke either. But it’s not entirely true. When ‘Taco Cleanse’ was first published, it caused quite a stir because it gave a perfect opportunity to create a clickbaity headline. “I Only Ate Tacos for a Week and Got So Much Healthier,” “Diets don’t Get Better Than This,” “Now Here’s a Cleanse We Can Get Behind.” In reality, it’s a book that will teach you how to make some pretty good vegan-friendly tacos.
Taco Bell could have its own list of fascinating facts, but the Taco Liberty Bell PR stunt deserves mention in ours. Back in ‘96, as a part of their “Nothing Ordinary About It” campaign to attract more young people, Taco Bell went viral (back then, you could only go viral via the printed press).
On April 1, 1996, they announced, “In an effort to help reduce the national debt, Taco Bell is pleased to announce that we have agreed to purchase the Liberty Bell, one of the country’s most historic treasures. It will now be called the Taco Liberty Bell and will still be accessible to the American public for viewing…”
It probably comes as no surprise. But it was mostly the prices that the people of Mexico couldn’t accept. And it was classified as “American fast-food” in the taco motherland.
When the NY Department of Taxation released sales tax guidelines that listed hot dogs under sandwich variety, the internet took it even further and came out with the Cube Rule. The unified theory of food identification (that no one asked for). It identifies any food by the location of its structural starch. And that’s why a slice of pie is a taco too. You’re welcome.