The California-based OC Restaurant Association will now run and manage the TacoTuesday.com domain, in an effort to promote the county’s culinary strengths—while freeing use of the term for everyone else.
For a generally popular phrase, “Taco Tuesday” has stirred up a surprising amount of controversy.
The question: Who, if anyone, owns the phrase? The Wyoming fast-food chain Taco John’s trademarked it three decades ago and has fought hard to protect it, even though the term has become increasingly common over the years. When basketball superstar LeBron James attempted to trademark “Taco Tuesday” himself in an effort to free it for whomever wanted to use it, the Patent and Trademark Office rejected the application but gave him the result he wanted. PTO said that it was a “commonplace term, message, or expression widely used by a variety of sources that merely conveys an ordinary, familiar, well-recognized concept or sentiment,” the New York Times reported in September.
Now joining the effort is California’s Orange County Restaurant Association, which recently bought the domain TacoTuesday.com. Why OCRA? Well, its members know a thing or two about a good taco—and the domain presents a great marketing opportunity for them, founder and president Pamela Waitt told the Orange County Business Journal.
“That’s part of our agenda here, is to really illuminate the Orange County restaurant industry, which can be challenging when you’re sandwiched between Los Angeles and San Diego,” Waitt said.
But she notes that there’s also a bigger goal at play: OCRA hopes to open the phrase up to everyone else, creating a resource for taco culture in general. In a news release, Waitt characterized the group’s role as “peacemaker.”
“Rather than trying to own two words that have become part of American culture in many places across the U.S., we are democratizing Taco Tuesday, with a vision to establish TacoTuesday.com as the go-to site where establishments and taco lovers can share their favorite taco stories, images, videos, humor, events, and recipes with anyone,” Waitt said.
The association plans to relaunch the website next spring with 500 listings of taco shops in five states, providing the listings for free to restaurants. OCRA says it will make the domain “an umbrella brand for taco events, social media activations, media tours, guest chef interviews, and an opportunity to foster strategic partnerships, corporate citizenship, philanthropic giving, and beyond.”