The Fun and Surprising Origins of Taco Tuesday

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What is Taco Tuesday and where did it start? Taco Tuesday has an interesting history and origin story. Plus, discover who OWNS Taco Tuesday trademark right here.

Have you ever wondered how taco Tuesday came to be? It’s a popular phrase and was even referred to in movies like Deadpool.

You’ve more or less have caught a whiff of your family preparing some Mexican recipes at one point or another. If you have, then congratulations, you’ve participated in Taco Tuesday. Throughout the years, many households have had a tradition of serving up Tacos for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner.

Do you ever wonder how this tradition started, though?

Most households only do taco Tuesday because they’ve heard about it somewhere, but how did it start? What is taco Tuesday? Who’s holds the taco Tuesday trademark?

Today, you’re going to find out how this time-honored tradition came to be. Read on and find out the answers to all those questions.

What is Taco Tuesday?

Few people know this, but taco Tuesday was not a household tradition at first. In fact, the idea was well in use as early as the 1930s, but no one used that exact term before. It wasn’t an uncommon sight to see restaurants doing specials to try and sell these crunchy delicacies.

The earliest known advert was in 1933 when a small diner launched a graphic that let people know about their deal. Three authentic Mexican tacos for a low price of 15 cents every Tuesday. This became popular among their patrons in no time.

Noticing their success, other food establishments tried to copy their campaign. Some restaurants offered a free cup of coffee for every taco their patrons bought. Some even gave away tacos for free to anyone who entered their establishment on a Tuesday night.

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The campaign started to spread out at this point. It even gained some gas along the way thanks to news about the deal hitting the papers. This is when it became an obvious choice to market this deal on newspapers, as well.

A lot of restaurants called their deals the “Tuesday Special” while others opted for a more direct slogan like “Try our Tasty Tacos Tonight”. Some were more direct than others, telling them to “Drop by and Grab Two Tacos every Tuesday”.

Despite all these slogans and witty remarks, none of them ever used the term “Taco Tuesday”. Some came close, but no one ever matched those 2 words in that way.

Taco Tuesday Origin: Who First Used It?

While some came close, no one ever used the exact term “Taco Tuesday” until 1973. This is when a small, but popular to the locals, food establishment called the Snow White Drive-In had an ad in the local newspaper saying, “Stop in on Taco Tuesday”. The ad became popular because of its accompanying graphic.

A drawing of a Spanish dancer accompanied the ad. Together with its color theme, it gave some authenticity to the newspaper ad. This may have been the reason why the term Taco Tuesday became successful.

Regardless, the success of the ad continued on for years and years, being successful in bringing in more customers to the Snow White Drive-In time and time again. This then inspired other restaurants to try out the Spanish aesthetic. 2 years after the initial use of the term “Taco Tuesday”, another restaurant used it for their ad as well.

Marti’s, a restaurant found in Manhattan, Kansas, announced to their patrons “Every Tuesday is Taco Tuesday”. They also had the accompanying Spanish motif, having a bullfighter improve the ad. However, Marti’s gave more focus on the term Taco Tuesday than Snow White Drive-In did.

This is because they believed that this term was witty enough to get customers talking. It was also a phrase that was easy to remember, which made people in the area they served to generate hype and become excited every time Tuesday was closing in every week.

Who Holds the Rights to Taco Tuesday?

Ever since the first time a food establishment used it, the term “Taco Tuesday” became a popular phrase, becoming adopted by a lot of other restaurants and it even became a sort of tradition for some households. However, you don’t see a lot of restaurants or even people use the term across the internet.

Why is that?

Well, because the term became trademarked in 1989. That’s right, someone holds the right to the phrase and they’re not afraid to defend their rights, and that would be none other than Taco John’s. They’re a popular restaurant with menu items like authentic Tijuana tacos and the like.

Why do they hold the rights when restaurants have been using it for years before? While that’s true, they were the first ones to register it for a trademark. They hold this trademark over 49 out of 50 states, only losing power in New Jersey.

Taco John’s even boasts on their website that they own the rights. They even claimed to come up with the term, saying “Ever hear of Taco Tuesday®? We started it! We even trademarked it”. While it may not seem like a big deal to you, Taco John’s takes it to a serious level.

They’re known to send continuous cease and desist letters to any restaurant they catch using the term. Also, they’re not afraid to get their attorneys to try and sue anyone who doesn’t comply. This made them infamous in the fast food scene.

How Did Restaurants Respond to This?

Most restaurants tried to steer clear of using the term altogether. However, some didn’t cave to Taco John’s ridiculousness. Instead, they changed their offer’s name after Taco John’s sent them a letter.

It was obvious to Taco John’s and the general public that it was still the same offer. This made Taco John’s furious. They even tried to continue to sue the restaurants, but none of their cases were successful. This made Taco John’s a subject to laughs for some time.

Because of that, Taco John’s isn’t as active in enforcing their trademark today.

Enjoy Taco Tuesday and More Food Today

Next time you see taco Tuesday restaurants, you’ll no longer wonder what that is. Instead, you’ll be able to answer the next person who asks “What is taco Tuesday” yourself!

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