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Growing up in Northernass Wisconsin in the 80s and 90s, we had a Hardees, a KFC, and a Dairy Queen with sod thrown over the sides and top to make it the only underground DQ in the world.

Twenty years later the Hardees has closed, the KFC is gone, and DQ’s become an underground Chinese place (surely not the only one in the world).

Taco Bell was two hours away with their exotic Gorditas, Chalupas, and Baja Blast Mountain Dew.

We had, and still have, Taco John’s.

Named after the very non-Hispanic creator John Turner.

  • Taco John Turner: a guy who might’ve tricked Native Americans into believing he was going to find them new fertile lands to sow their tribes around only to dump them in South Dakota to live off casinos and the money  stupid white Scandinavians.

  • Taco John Turner:  may have killed off muchos Mexicanos with Davy Crocket at the Alamo.

  • Taco John Turner: who called his ethnic food West-Mex since it started in Missouri and mostly traveled around the midwest and anybody expecting muy authentico Mexican food in the Midwest back then had to be a muy ingenuo to start.

If you’ve ever had Midwestern moms make you tacos that Midwestern dads don’t deem too ethnic, that’s pretty much West-Mex.

Imagine your Norwegian grandmother complaining to the local Mexican waiter: Not too spicy, now. My husband Arnold has a sensitive palate.

Meat and cheese tacos with seasoning to please the most sensitive Midwestern ulcer.

Growing up without a single Hispanic person in our school, my friends and I would joke that we were going to eat muy muchos tacos at Taco Juan’s (in our offensive nasal Midwestern Mexican accent).

Their original mascot was a cartoon devil that looked like Boris Badenov with a Snidely Whiplash mustache.

The tagline: It’s the hottest place in town.

In many ways, their second mascot was even more racist: a caricature of a happy Mexican man with a donkey named Pepe, where the caricature looked like Gomez Adams in a sombrero with a donkey named Pepe.

Their new tagline: A whole lot of Mexican goin’ on.

In 1989 Taco John’s claims to have coined the term Taco Tuesday and copyrighted it as their own.

In 2022  Taco Bell filed a lawsuit to end their copyright.

Here are some of the (actual!! real!! verbatim!!) claims Taco Bell made in their legal petition:

  • People like tacos on Tuesdays. They just do. It’s even fun to say: Taco Tuesday.

  • Since 1989, [Taco John’s has] owned a federal trademark registration for Taco Tuesday. Not cool.

  • This violates an American ideal: the pursuit of happiness.

  • Can you imagine if we weren’t allowed to say what’s up or brunch? Chaos.

  • Tacos, just like the joy they bring, belong to everyone on any day. Ergo, Taco Tuesday should belong to everyone.

  • To deprive anyone of saying Taco Tuesday is like depriving the world of sunshine itself.

  • How can we tell our fans to Live Más if their favorite taco joints aren’t even allowed to freely say Taco Tuesday?

Taco John’s legal response?

  • When a big, bad bully threatens to take away the mark our forefathers originated so many decades ago, well, that just rings hollow to us. If living más means filling the pockets of Taco Bell’s army of lawyers, we’re not interested.

Taco Bell may have the net-value, the brand recognition, and the coolness factor, but they will never have Potato Oles (perhaps the greatest Mexican potato concoction ever made– even more delicious in contrast to Taco Bell's sad attempt at a Mexican-flavored starch alternative: the Nacho Fries).

Taco Bell may have the stoners and the X-Games enthusiasts, but they do not have the Six-Pack and a Pound.

And sure, six hard/soft tacos and a pound of Potato Oles may not be stoner food but you will never find a more fulfilling after-bar/next-morning hang-over cure than so much blandly seasoned taco meat, shredded American cheese, your choice of soft or hard-shell, and the equivalent of a small newborn in potato rounds goodness.

Ten years ago my then-wife broke our toilet flushing one too many tampons. On her way home from buying Drano, two different types of plungers, and a toilet snake, she stopped off at Taco Bell to pick up her favorite Baja Chalupas as reward for taking the initiative to fix the toilet herself (she was, and is, a strong independent woman).

There were six recovering addicts smoking out on the halfway house porch next door when she returned with her toilet paraphernalia and Taco Bell.

One of them could be heard joking under his breath to the others: Hey lady, you might want to reconsider your diet? And the rest of them laughing in their smoker’s laugh.

I have eaten Six-Pack-and-a-Pounds roughly thirty times in my life and have never once broken my toilet or been accosted by diet-shaming recovering alcoholics and druggies.

My ex-wife once made a teenager cry behind the cash register of Taco Bell when he told her that they had taken the Baja Chalupa off the menu.

Why the fuck did you do that, Mitchell? Do you know the type of day I’ve had? Do you know what I’m gonna be forced to do if you can’t get me a fucking Baja Chalupa in the next five minutes?

Taco John’s, so far as I know, has never taken anything off the menu in fifty years.

You know what I’ve never done? I’ve never made a teenager cry for taking the Big Meat and Potato Burrito off the menu.

I am divorced now.

I live in the Deep South now.

I live within twenty minutes of three TBs.

The nearest Taco John’s is 271 miles and two states away.

My ex-wife grew up in Buffalo, New York.

Never had the muy delicioso dining experience of west-mex, Potato Oles, or a Six-Pack-and-a-Pound.

My ex-wife, despite her continued desilusión over the death of the Baja Burrito, continues to regularly patronize TB where she orders Doritos Locos Tacos, 86 beef, sub refried beans (muy doloroso).

How can she keep going back to Taco Bell for sustenance from Baja’less Burritos and Potato Ole’less Nacho Fries, and at the same time refuse to see it in her heart to give me another chance to show the side of me where a whole lot of Mexican is goin on?

It breaks my heart, but I will never truly understand.

Mi vida may be muy solitario and patético,  but at least I can say I haven’t lowered my standards or turned my back on my Mexicano roots:

¡Viva la Taco John’s! ¡Viva la Taco Tuesday!


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