Don't mess with Taco John's.

By Tim Nelson
August 15, 2019
Aaron Kirk; Prop Styling: Christina Daley; Food Styling: Robby Melvin

Taco Tuesday: It’s as much of an event as it is a state of mind. Everyone from Lebron James to your local Tex-Mex cantina has celebrated Taco Tuesday at some point, transforming a day of the week that “has no feel” into a special occasion. But as it turns out, anyone who’s ever used Taco Tuesday in any kind of promotional capacity owes a debt of gratitude and/or some money to a taco chain that few people outside of the midwest and the Dakotas have ever heard of. 

For the past 30 years, Taco John’s has owned the trademark for “Taco Tuesday,” a piece of intellectual property that it guards with a litigious ferocity. Specifically, the Cheyenne, Wyoming-based company has been mailing cease and desist letters all over this great country, asserting their right above all others to alliteratively advertise the availability of tacos on the particular weekday. 

According to the Associated Press, Taco John’s has been fiercely protecting its trademark ever since a Minnesota franchise started using “Taco Twosday” to advertise a 2 for $0.99 taco deal in the 80s. Since then, they’ve sent out the notices to businesses or other entities which aren’t even seeking to make money off of tacos, as the recent case of fellow Cheyenne business Freedom’s Edge Brewing points out. 

“We certainly appreciate our fellow community member’s enthusiasm for tacos on Tuesdays, and the term is often used inadvertently,” a letter sent to the brewery points out. “However, it is still extremely important to us to protect our rights in this mark.” 

The brewery then took to Facebook, questioning the need for such legal action. “We have nothing against Taco John’s but do find it comical that some person in their corporate office would choose to send a cease and desist to a brewery that doesn’t sell or profit from the sales of tacos,” the brewery wrote.

Indeed, the vigorous enforcement of the trademark seems silly, given how generic its use has become. I’d hazard a bet that the vast majority of people who’ve used “Taco Tuesday” have never been to or even heard of Taco John’s. 

At least one legal expert who has no stake in the trademark one way or another thinks Taco John’s needs to calm down. “It’s kind of asinine to me think that one particular taco seller, or taco maker, would have monopoly rights over ‘Taco Tuesday,’” attorney Michael Atkins told AP. “It has become such a common phrase that it no longer points to Taco John’s and therefore Taco John’s doesn’t have the right to tell anybody to stop using that.”  

So until further notice, shift your taco eating to other days of the week, lest you run afoul of a Wyoming taco chain. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

Advertisement