Busting Tacos Myths: 10+ Popular Misconceptions (Let’s Get Real!)

It seems like many people love tacos, but no one quite knows how they came to be or what type of meat is used in fast-food tacos. More questions than answers exist about tacos, and it’s time to unravel the myths surrounding tacos.

Several myths abound about tacos, including the idea that the only food eaten in Mexico is tacos, that tacos are tex-mex, and that Taco Bell uses Grade D beef in their tacos. Tacos are thought to be a health nightmare, yet others believe that vegan tacos will help them lose weight. 

If you’re confused about tacos and all the myths that keep popping up, continue reading. 

1. The Only Food Mexicans Eat Is Tacos.

Many people seem to think that the only food that Mexicans eat is tacos. But while many Mexican kitchens use many corn tortillas for several dishes, there is a wealth of other foods that grace their tables. Foods like lima soup or a spicy pork sandwich are part of the rich cuisine. 

2. Taco Bell Uses Dog Food in Their Meat.

There was a rumor that started floating several years ago that Taco Bell uses Grade D beef, otherwise known as dog meat, in their tacos and other foods. However, Taco Bell refuted that by openly sharing their beef ingredients, including beef, seasonings, and thickeners. No additional fillers are in the beef, nor is the beef anything other than human-grade beef.

3. Tacos Are a Health Nightmare.

Many believe that tacos are lumped right up there with french fries, pizza, and soda as junk food, which contain empty calories. But that’s not completely accurate. Though tacos can be nutritionally empty when made with fried shells and not many healthy vegetables, they can be healthy when made with healthier ingredients.

If you use soft corn tortillas, with lean proteins, homemade guacamole, and fresh salsa, your tacos can be a healthy addition to a balanced diet.

4. Vegan Tacos Will Help You Lose Weight.

In 2016, the book “Taco Cleanse: The Tortilla-Based Diet That Will Change Your Life,” came out on bookshelves, and it was an instant hit. Celebrities like Jennifer Aniston and Kathie Lee were into it and claimed it changed their lives. The recipes included 75 vegan taco recipes that one was to eat for a month to cleanse their body and get healthy.

Many people bought into the hype, thinking they were going to lose weight and get healthier by just eating tacos for three meals per day. The problem is that this diet is a hoax. While the book was real, the diet is satire, and it was poking fun at the recent cleanse craze.

5. Tacos Are Only Tex-Mex.

Tacos came from Mexican immigrants to the US in the late 1800s, but today are a fusion between Mexican and American cuisines. But many people think that tacos are only Tex-Mex and that they aren’t authentic Mexican food. While today’s tacos don’t resemble what came to the US with Mexican immigrants, tacos are Mexican food.

6. Spicy Tacos Can Induce Labor.

There is some thought that spicy food can induce labor for pregnant women. However, there is no scientific evidence to back this theory. Spicy food can irritate the lining of the stomach and can cause cramping and uterine contractions in women who are already dilated. But if labor is not yet imminent, then spicy foods will probably cause heartburn but nothing else.

7. Tacos Are a Great First Date Food.

First dates are meant to get to know someone, yet they’re on their best behavior. They don’t want to be messy or make the other person think they are a slob. But tacos are messy and don’t make a good first date impression, even though that is what many people on dating apps claim that they want. Tacos might be great third-date food, but it might be too much for a first date.

8. Glenn Bell Invented the Taco.

Glenn Bell founded Taco Bell in 1962, but he is not responsible for inventing the taco, despite what some people may think. Mexican immigrants brought the taco to the West region in the late 1800s, but it did not resemble any tacos from today. For instance, the tacos brought to California and Texas contained organ meats and very little else.

Early tacos were tortillas wrapped around whatever protein was available. Later, in the mid-20th century, tacos began using American ingredients, and that is what Glenn Bell served in the first Taco Bell.

9. Tacos Must Include Ground Beef or Fish.

Since the mid-20th century, tacos have contained seasoned ground beef or thin steak strips. Later, in 1983 when fish tacos became popular in San Diego, fish was the second popular taco filling. Strangely, when people think tacos, they associate them with only ground beef, steak strips, or battered fish. 

However, proteins such as shrimp, lobster, scallops, chicken, turkey, and even lunch meats have made their way into tacos. Insects were once an accepted taco filling, but that was around the 1500s during the Aztec civilization.

10. Tacos Can Cause Diarrhea.

The assumed position after eating at Taco Bell, or having tacos, is on the porcelain throne. People assume that if they eat tacos, they will have diarrhea. But this is not usually the case unless the meat is tainted or some other ingredient went bad. If someone is allergic to any of the ingredients used, such as a flour tortilla, they might have some gastrointestinal distress. 

Otherwise, a normally healthy individual will most likely not have issues eating tacos.

11. Hard Shells Are a Mexican Creation.

Soft corn tortillas have existed for around 5,000 years in Mexico and the Aztec civilization. Still, today’s hard shells are a modern creation invented in the US in the mid-1940s to help restaurants streamline the serving process. Then Glenn Bell further refined the shells to be easy to use in a fast-food setting. They are not Mexican in origin, despite what people think.

12. Tacos Are Only Eaten in the US or Mexico.

There is a common view that tacos are only a US or Mexican food, and that other countries don’t have tacos. Not every country may make their tacos in the same way, but most countries have some type of filling folded into a flatbread or tortilla. 

For example, Italy has the Piada–a sandwich with tomatoes, deli meat, and cheese, wrapped in a flatbread that resembles a taco. Spain has a taco made with dried and cured Spanish ham, shrimp, and other toppings in a soft corn tortilla.

13. Poor People Eat More Tacos Than Wealthier People.

Since tacos are inexpensive and known as “street food,” it is common to think that poor people eat more tacos than wealthier people do, as with all fast food. However, that cannot be further from the truth. In fact, Americans (across the board) eat about 5 billion tacos in a given year. 

Last Word

Now that you’ve seen the myths about tacos debunked, you can go out into the world with your newfound knowledge and impress (and surprise) your friends. Tacos aren’t just relegated to simple ingredients, nor do they have to be fussy.

Another myth that seems to be floating around the internet lately is that breakfast tacos aren’t breakfast food, nor are they authentically Mexican. Only half of that is true because breakfast tacos originated in Texas, but they are for breakfast. Breakfast burritos are no longer the only king of Mexican breakfast food, as tacos are now fair game.

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This article was co-authored by our team of writers and editors who share one thing in common: their passion for food and drinks!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco works as a New York-based editor at Foodrinke, driven by his lifelong love for food. His culinary journey began in childhood, as he eagerly assisted his mother with her local sandwich and bakery business, relishing every opportunity to sample her creations. Known among family and friends as an easy eater, JC has a particular affinity for Chinese, Italian, Mexican, and Peruvian cuisine. At Foodrinke, he channels his passion for food into his work, sharing his enthusiasm and knowledge with readers.