Tacos may be a traditional Mexican food but they have fast become as American as hotdogs and hamburgers themselves. You probably already know what a taco is and have eaten your own fair share of them but did you know that the original tacos were made of maize (corn) and that the flour tortilla wasn’t introduced until sometime later in history?
Which do you think came first, the soft or hard shell? Hmmmm…it’s hard to tell but all signs point to the soft shell since historic conventions for baking a formed hard shell would have been non-existent hundreds of years ago.
Although tacos are not the only Mexican cuisine that people crave it is the primary driver for shopping behavior when hungry customers are out looking for their taco fix.
How many Mexican restaurants are out there serving tacos?
Well, Mexican food is the 3rd most popular menu type on American restaurants and they represent 8 percent of the total national restaurant landscape. While most Mexican cuisine is popular in southern border states, Mexican food is in high demand in the northern States as well.
1. National Taco Day is October 4th
National taco day is October 4 and because people eat nearly 4.5 billion tacos each year, it deserves it’s own day of recognition. They’re immensely popular most likely due to the endless variations you can make them with. For example, you can get your taco with fish, chicken, pork, steak or beef and you can add numerous vegetables, spices, guacamole or dozens of cheeses.
Guess what else is celebrated on October 4th? National Vodka Day!
Now typically Vodka isn’t a pairing for tacos but they are both often consumed on the same night, just not in the same meal. Typically cocktails made with Rum or Tequila are often served with tacos as they tend to be more authentic to the region’s cuisine.
2. Taco translates to “light lunch”
The word “taco” literally translates to “plug” or “wad” a small hole, it also translates to “light lunch” in Mexican Spanish. This is most likely due to it’s small size and easy bite size portions. But more so, the name is derived from the first sort of workers who ate them everyday for their lunches. And they were the
3. The first taco truck was in New York
The first taco trucks is said to have started in New York around 1966 when wo New York housewives operated an early version of the taco truck. The truck did not have a full kitchen, but it was available for catering. Had it had a full kitchen then it would have been called a Taqueria.
4. Taco Bell was sued over their taco ingredients
The very popular Mexican American restaurant chain spent close to 4 million dollars defending a lawsuit in 2011 that claimed their advertising was misleading and that their tacos really weren’t all beef like they claimed.
It was an all out attack on the company and they fought back hard. The suit was eventually dropped after Taco Bell promised to change how they market their tacos but not before they put out a full page ad in the paper defending their little tacos.
Considering they generate roughly 9 billion dollars a year in profit, the price of the lawsuit and lost sales was most likely just a bump in the road for them.
5. Tacos started in texas being sold to miners
It has 18th century origins. Back in the 1700s, Mexicans used to place gun powder within paper. They were used mines that would excavate the rocks. When you think about it, spicy tacos are much like this. They may not be gun powder, but jalapeños and chili powder make it taste like like dynamite.
Tacos were introduced to Americans by the San Antonio Chili Queens. In 1905, Mexicans were starting to move north into the United States. The Chili Queens had a food stand in which they brought their Mexican cuisine.
Up to this point most Americans hadn’t tried anything like a taco, but this particular group changed that. At this time Mexico was a dangerous place and these women were not well-respected. Their food was considered low-class street food, but now it’s widely accepted throughout the nation. It makes it easy when there are so many variations.
Tacos have evolved since the days of the San Antonio Chili Queens. Now Americans are fixing tacos and serving them to customers via food trucks and food carts. It’s an easy-to-go meal that commonly is served with rice, beans or dip. And there are many “taco festivals throughout the country every year. There is even a LA taco website that’s centered around the street culture, art and heritage in Los Angeles, CA…thanks to the taco.