Taco Bell vs Taco Johns

Taco Bell vs Taco Johns by Highplains-scout / istock / Cheapism (CC BY)

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You've got to hand it to Taco John's for getting the jump on a much bigger chain — Taco Bell. It seems Taco John's, which has a paltry 400 or so locations in just 23 states, realized early on that "Taco Tuesday" had a certain ring to it — and in 1989 trademarked the phrase.

That means anyone using the term Taco Tuesday® could be slapped with a cease-and-desist order by Taco John's (and many restaurants, breweries, and other businesses have been over the years). This does not make Taco Bell happy. At all. So of course, the big brand with more than 7,200 locations in the U.S. and roughly 1,000 in 30 countries decided to stomp its feet and do something about it.

"The Registration potentially subjects Taco Bell and anyone else who wants to share tacos with the world to the possibility of legal action or angry letters if they say 'Taco Tuesday' without express permission from Registrant — simply for pursuing happiness on a Tuesday. This violates an American ideal: 'the pursuit of happiness.'"

So Taco Bell cares about your ability to celebrate Taco Tuesday and for anyone else who wants to celebrate the sacred tradition. How selfless of the brand (if our eyes could roll deeper into our heads, they would probably detach). 

To be fair, Taco Bell is not seeking any financial damages, nor does the company want the term "Taco Tuesday" for itself, but rather to make it so that anyone can use the phrase freely. The company even created a petition to free the weekly holiday. There's also plenty of evidence showing that the phrase and concept were used for decades before Taco John's claims to have coined it.

In return, Taco John's saw a PR opportunity and took it. Not only did the company issue a press release about the issue, but it's also offering a special Taco Tuesday deal — $2 for 2 Tacos (crispy or soft shell) every day, all day, from May 16 to May 31, for users of the brand's mobile app. 

“I’d like to thank our worthy competitors at Taco Bell for reminding everyone that Taco Tuesday is best celebrated at Taco John’s,” said Taco John’s CEO Jim Creel in the release. “We love celebrating Taco Tuesdaywith taco lovers everywhere, and we even want to offer a special invitation to fans of Taco Bell to liberate themselves by coming by to see how flavorful and bold tacos can be at Taco John’s all month long.” As for the lawsuit, Creel says, "No más, por favor!”

“When it comes right down to it, we’re lovers, not fighters, at Taco John’s,” continued Creel. “But 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.” 

Yes, Taco John's CEO went a bit over the top as well, but can you blame him? It's enough to make you head to a Taco John's — if you can find one.

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