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Americans Consume Over 4.5 Billion Tacos Each Year


National Taco Day is observed annually on October 4.  Tacos are loved and eaten by millions each day in either hard or soft shell with a variety of fillings.

The history of tacos predates the arrival of Europeans in Mexico. Anthropological evidence shows the native people living in the lake region of the Valley of Mexico traditionally ate tacos filled with small fish.  At the time of the Spanish conquistadors, Bernal Diaz del Castillo documented the first taco feast enjoyed by Europeans.  This meal was arranged by Hernan Cortes for his captains in Coyoacan. It is unclear why the Spanish used the word taco to describe this native food.  One suggested origin is the word ataco, meaning stuff or to stuff.

In 1964, Roberto L. Gomez established The National Taco Council. The council sent a 55-pound taco to President Johnson in 1967.

While the word “taco” literally translates to “plug” or “wad” a small hole, it also translates to “light lunch” in Mexican Spanish.

  1. A taco is a traditional Mexican dish composed of a corn or wheat tortilla folded or rolled around a filling.
  2. A taco is generally eaten without utensils and is often accompanied by garnishes such as salsa, avocado or guacamole, cilantro, tomatoes, minced meat, onions and lettuce.
  3. The original sense of the word is of a “plug” or “wad” used to fill a hole (“Pedazo de madera, metal u otra materia, corto y grueso, que se encaja en algún hueco”).
  4. Tacos predate the Europeans in Mexico and were discovered to be the food of choice by the indigenous folk in the Valley of Mexico. Obviously the Spanish wanted to stake their claim on such fine fare, and dubbed them “tacos.”
  5. Taco Bell started as Bell’s Hamburgers and Hot Dogs in San Bernardino, CA back in 1950 by Glen W. Bell Jr.. Bell’s Hamburgers and Hot Dogs began as a hamburger stand selling fast foods such as burgers, hot dogs, fries, and shakes. Then, taking advantage that his stand was located in a Hispanic neighborhood, Bell started selling crispy-hard-shell tacos at 19 cents each.
  6. Ensenada, Mexico is said to be the birth place of the fish taco.
  7. Taco Bell uses at least 600,000 cows’ worth of beef per year. According to Taco Bell’s own website, they serve an average of 295 million pounds of ground beef every year.
  8. A “Taquería” is a Spanish word meaning taco shop. Originally, the term “taqueria” was used to refer to street vendors, although the term has come to be used more generally to refer to any sort of establishment which serves authentic Mexican food.
  9. One of the first taco trucks is thought to have started in New York when in 1966 two New York housewives operated an early version of the taco truck. Although the truck did not have a full kitchen, it was available for catering.
  10. The biggest taco ever made was constructed on November 20th, 2011 in Queretaro, Mexico. It was 246 feet long and was made with carnitas as the filling.
  11. While there is some debate over when exactly the first taco was created, most experts state that the first taco was actually invented somewhere between 1,000 and 500 B.C. At the time, the taco was more about having an edible spoon and since has morphed into the dish that we know today.
  12. However, the name taco came much later on. The first recorded reference to the word taco, then it was tacos mineros, came about in the 19th century. The first mention of the word taco in the United States didn’t come around until 1905.
  13. The first reference to a culinary taco was in the 1905 in a San Antonio newspaper. The newspaper was reporting on the Chili Queens, Mexican women who set up food carts in the San Antonio main plaza in the late 1800s.
  14. According to NationalTacoDay.com, Americans are eating billions of tacos every year, 4.5 billion to be more specific. Americans not only love tacos but they also love their Taco Bell… around half of the U.S. population visits a Taco Bell once every 11 days. 
  15. Taco Bell’s Founder Invented the Preformed U-Shaped Crispy Taco Shell
  16. Hernando Cortez referred to the tortilla in one of his reports to Spanish leaders. Cortez landed in the New World in 1519 and sent his findings to Spain. He translated the native Nahuatl name tlaxcalli to his Spanish equivalent Tortilla. He described the tortilla as a corn flat bread sold in local markets.
  17. In 1979, Mexican artist, named Maris Bustamante, patented the Taco. Bustamante registered the taco as legally hers and claimed the patent rights.


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