For most of my life, I've only known the taco to be a hard corn shell, seasoned ground beef, shredded cheese, chopped lettuce and diced tomatoes.

I would augment it with hot sauce and the resulting food item was pretty much perfect.

I once ate nine tacos in one sitting. I was so proud until my buddy picked up his 10th taco and scarfed it down, and then his 11th.

I had another friend whose family had taco salad every Saturday night without fail. The feast would feature a huge bowl of seasoned ground beef, an equally large bowl of shredded lettuce, Ortega taco sauce and garnishments like cheese, tomato, avocado, onions and cilantro, plus tortilla chips or corn shells to use as a base.

Honestly, taco life was simple and amazing.

And then, some time in the last 20 years, we were told we were doing it wrong.

Tacos, we were told, weren't Taco Bell-esque hard shells with hamburger and lettuce.

No. Real Mexican tacos, they said, were flat and had carne asada and pollo and carnitas and there's no lettuce, but rather cilantro and onions and cabbage.

I resisted. Those aren't the tacos I grew up with. How could they change the taco rules?!

But then, at the behest of my oldest son, I tried them.

OK, I liked them. A lot.

But as Taco Bell and Taco John's finish their fight over who should be allowed to use the phrase "Taco Tuesday," I still will always think of the taco in its "original" state.

For the record, Taco John's relented and will allow anyone who wants to use "Taco Tuesday" to go ahead and do it.

And I will still think of a taco as that curved hard corn shell with perfectly seasoned meat, lettuce and cheese.

That other dish: I call it a street taco. It's good. But nothing beats the American version.

Oh, and it's Taco Tuesday today, so guess where I'm headed?

Some Taco Tuesday history, courtesy of

Before Taco John’s filed for the Taco Tuesday trademark, both the concept and the phrase were already in use by a number of other Mexican restaurants, across the United States.

It’s possible to find advertisements of special Tuesday taco deals as far back as the 1930s. In particular, the earliest reference to this tradition can be found in the El Paso Herald-Post, under the classifieds section of the paper. In October 1933, White Star Cafeteria created a weeklong campaign in order to let locals know that they were offering “Mexican tacos” each Tuesday.

The earliest use of the specific couplet can be sourced back to 1973; we know that, at the very least, this is the earliest documented use. So, what restaurant was using this phrase? Hint: It wasn’t Taco John’s.

More specifically, it was the Snow White Drive In that used the phrase in South Dakota’s Rapid City Journal. Just a couple of years after that, in 1975, the phrase was also used by Marti’s, a restaurant in Manhattan, Kansas. Both of these documented instances occurred prior to when Taco John’s claims to have crafted the phrase.


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