The Semiotics of the Taco

Enough with your clipart-ass tacos.

Tacos have their roots as a Mexican food but are now a fixture in the American diet. They are among the top five foods ordered at U.S. restaurants, according to NPD Group, which says that taco servings were up 2% for the year ending in June 2017. Their influence has crossed into other restaurant cuisines, such as Korean, Chinese and Middle Eastern fare.

Well I’ll be goddamned if the taco isn’t my own personal bubble tea. A whole article in the Wall Street Journal about the taco-as-emblem and not a single mention of how the food trend is widely represented by an emoji or some other crude symbol that is canonically COMPLETELY different from what it represents in the real world. I know, I know, semiotics and what not, but how come no one talks about the utter whitewashing of the taco? The taco of symbology (thank you Dan Brown) is yellow corn, hard-shelled, topped with lettuce, and contains 88% lean ground beef seasoned with Old El Paso seasoning mix. What the hell is that all about? Is this about Taco Bell? That is the joke taco that El Cortez lists on their menu as “All-American Taco Night,” and yes, I have eaten it and it is good*. Everyone knows what a real taco—the kind of taco Kate Spade customers just LIVE for and “Celebrities such as singer Katy Perry and model Chrissy Teigen have recently been photographed waiting in line for”—looks like: a blob of stewed meat topped with cilantro and onions, plopped atop a floppy pressed, steamed blob of white corn. so please stop lying. It’s me, the taco truther, signing off.



*don’t try me


Image: T. Tseng via Flickr