The Curious Case of the People vs. #TacoTuesday

PSA: Your love of Mexican food may land you in agua caliente

By Evan Bleier

 
The Curious Case of the People vs. #TacoTuesday
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06 April 2017

Besides not skimping on the hot sauce and guac, the first rule of Taco Tuesday is you do not talk about Taco T**sday.

That’s because on December 19, 1989, Taco John’s Seasonings Limited Partnership of Wyoming filed trademark number 1,572,589 with the U.S. Patent Office for the term.

And, as the owners of The Old Fashioned in Madison found out when they were hit with a cease-and-desist order, Taco John’s — which has grown into chain of more than 400 Tex-Mex joints spread across 25 states — will take legal action to protect its popular phrase.

It hasn’t made them overly popular (The Old Fashioned held a contest to rename the special that generated names like Trademark Tyrant Taco Day, Corporate-free Taco Night and The Tuesday Special That Shall Not Be Named) but Taco John's feels it must protect the phrase manager David Olsen coined in the ‘80s when he offered two tacos for 99 cents.

In their competition with larger chains, the trademark is Taco John’s not-so-secret weapon.

"It's just unfathomable to us not to protect it," the chain’s chief marketing officer Billie Jo Waara told Priceonomics. "It's part of our DNA. Taco Tuesday is this American institution. Not to take the chance to talk about it and our story, that would go against who we are."

Since the trademark is only valid in 49 states, you can still go to Gregory's Restaurant and Bar in New Jersey for a hassle-free serving of two properly titled Tuesday tacos for $1.75.

And, they do Taco Thursdays too. Trademark anyone?

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