Tacos originated in Mexico long before the arrival of the Spanish. These are freshly produced, soft, flat maize tortillas with some form of protein like fish or roasted organs. It was a staple meal that provided people with essential nutrients and energy. But did you know how Americans pronounced the word taco when Taco Bell first opened in the United States?
Customers didn’t know how to pronounce “taco” properly when Taco Bell first opened in 1962, so they called them “tay-kohs” until the correct pronunciation became generally known.
Was the Taco called Taco When it was First Made?
The term taco is relatively new. The taco as we know it is only about 100 years old. The cheese, lettuce, sour cream, and tomato that we associate with tacos today were absent from the original tacos.
It was created in the 18th century by Mexican silver miners. Before detonation, gunpowder was wrapped in paper and put into rocks like a taquito.
By this time, tacos had become the cuisine of the working class, which included miners. As a result, their portable street cuisine became known as tacos de minero or miner’s tacos.
The tortilla used in these miner’s tacos was not the traditional firm U-shaped shell. It was a maize tortilla with a spicy filling instead. This daily staple was substantial, tasty, and inexpensive.
Taco Bell’s founder, Glen Bell, discovered that Mexicans did not use the name taco to describe the meal. Instead, Mexicans utilized a variety of terms to describe tacos, which varied by location and culture.
The word taco was used by Mexicans to describe the dish to Americans. This is similar to how the Korean fast-food company Bon Chon refers to their egg rolls as potstickers on their mainstream menu, but Koreans refer to the dish as mandu. (Source: Twisted Taco)
When Did the Taco Come to the US?
In 1905, the taco was first presented to the States. Mexican migrants began to arrive in the US to work on railroads and other jobs, bringing their delectable cuisine.
Tacos were mainly street food at the time due to their portability and low cost. They were first introduced to Americans by women known as chili queens who ran Mexican food carts in Los Angeles.
These ladies sold inexpensive Mexican food such as soft corn tortilla tacos, which any American who sampled one thought was unusual. The fillings were extremely hot and foreign to American taste buds. (Source: Twisted Taco)
Are Tacos Completely Mexican in Origin?
By 1920, the food brought in by Mexican immigrants had begun to blend with American components.
Ground beef and chicken were used instead of organs to make the dish more appealing. The traditional fillings were cheddar cheese, cool lettuce, and tomato. To Americans whose traditional food emphasized more mild flavors, this became known as the ultimate taco.
In other words, the taco was evolving into a Mexican-American hybrid. Things got even more intriguing when Taco Bell went mainstream, ushering in a new kind of Mexican food that wasn’t even really authentic. (Source: Twisted Taco)