History of the Taco

1 Feb

A taco.

A delicious meaty filling wrapped by thin bread topped with salsa, onions and cilantro. Sounds delicious.

American audiences may immediately think of Taco Bell when thinking about tacos. It’s difficult not to imagine the purple advertisements and the talking Chihuahua when searching for that “fourth meal.”

However, the taco originated in Mexico.

First, the tortilla.

The dictionary defines a tortilla as;

A thin, round, unleavened bread prepared from cornmeal or
sometimes wheat flour, baked on a flat plate of iron, earthenware,or the like.

There are two main types of tortillas:



Tortillas popped up around 2700 BC around Tehuacan Valley near Puebla, Mexico.

In 1520 Bernal Diaz del Castillo first documented tacos during an expedition with Hernan Cortes. It was noted that the people were eating tacos filled with things such as fish.

Bertha Haffner-Ginger’s 1914 book contained some of the first English language taco recipes.

Juvencio Maldonado submitted a patent for a hard-shell taco machine in 1950 naming it “form for frying tortillas to make fried tacos.”

Glen Bell launched the first Taco Bell in 1962 in Downey, CA.

Recently, a California woman filed a class-action lawsuit against Taco Bell for false advertising. The lawsuit claims that Taco Bell’s meat filling is only 35 percent meat.

Taco Bell says it’s 88 percent ground beef in its tacos. They have responded with a “Thank you for suing us,” campaign to try and set the record straight about what goes into its tacos.

As of 2007,  only Italian and Chinese food outnumber Mexican cuisine establishments. So, there’s plenty of places to try out tacos.

Modern Day Taco News

These days, tacos have made their way to mainstream pop-culture.

For a young audience, spaghetti tacos born from iCarly, a Nickelodeon series. The recipe consists of spaghetti with meatballs and hard taco shells.

Several users have uploaded videos on how to make spaghetti tacos such as TheMysteryCook.

Those are some of the important dates in taco history. There’s more to come as foods start to cross over to different cultures.


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