Gordon Horks Down Food While Supporting Wyoming-Based Taco John’s In ‘Taco Tuesday’ Fight

Gov. Mark Gordon on Thursday horked down some Taco John's while stating he supported the Cheyenne-based restaurant chain in its battle to keep the trademarked phrase "Taco Tuesday."

Renée Jean

May 18, 20235 min read

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon says the state is fully behind Wyoming-based Taco John's in its battle with fast-food behemoth Taco Bell over the trademark to the phrase "Taco Tuesday."
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon says the state is fully behind Wyoming-based Taco John's in its battle with fast-food behemoth Taco Bell over the trademark to the phrase "Taco Tuesday." (Photo Courtesy Gov. Mark Gordon's Office)

Another salvo has been fired in the escalating taco war between fast-food giant Taco Bell and Wyoming-based Taco John’s, which started Tuesday after the much larger chain made a populist play for the Taco John’s trademark on the phrase “Taco Tuesday.”

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon pokes fun at Taco Bell for trying to muscle in on its much smaller rival’s trademark with a 16-second video on Twitter, posted Thursday, which shows Gordon sitting at his desk with a meal from Taco John’s spread out before him. 

“Taco Bell, this taco beef is loco. Taco Tuesday’s nachos,” Gordon quipped as he took a big bite of the taco. “Taco John’s, we’ve got your back. Olé!”

The tweet notes Gordon’s satirical talent probably won’t result in an invitation to guest-host SNL.

“But, to be fair, @tacojohns is a Wyoming original,” the tweet adds, before listing a bunch of hashtags: #nachotacotuesday, #bringbackmexicanpizza #bringbackapplegrandes.

Ivy McGowan-Castleberry, communications and policy advisor for Gordon, said the tweet was a “brief opportunity to have a little fun with a silly topic that has roots in Wyoming.”

The tweet had 4,500 views, though not many were “taco-ing” about the tweet.

Someone called “Lone Scum, not Elon Musk” suggested the tweet is “pretty cringe,” while someone called “The Guy” said, “At least there’s one thing we agree on. TJ’s is the BOMB!”

View post on Twitter

No Legalese Here

Taco Bell filed its petition to cancel the Taco John’s “Taco Tuesday” trademark registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday. The document, however, reads more like a publicity-seeking press release than a court petition.

“People like tacos on Tuesdays,” it says. “They just do. It’s even fun to say: ‘Taco Tuesday.’ Tacos have the unique ability to bring people together, and bring joy to their lives on an otherwise mediocre day of the week.”

The document goes on to claim that it’s “not cool” for Taco John’s to own a federal trademark registration for “Taco Tuesday” because it should belong to “the masses.” Anything else would just be “chaos.”

Taco John’s fired back by offering its Taco Tuesday deal on every day of the week through the month of May.

“We want to thank Taco Bell for reminding everyone that Taco Tuesday is best celebrated at Taco John’s,” CEO Jim Creel said. “We love celebrating Taco Tuesday with taco lovers everywhere, and we 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.”

Trademark Has Been Taco John’s For 34 Years

Taco John’s has owned the trademark on “Taco Tuesday” since 1989, though it was not actually the first to have it.

That distinction belongs to Gregory’s, a Jersey-shore bar and grill, which said it coined the term in 1979 and owned the trademark starting in 1982. It lost the trademark, though, when it failed to file timely proof it was still using it. 

Taco John’s filed for and was awarded the registration in 1989, although a legal scuffle between the two followed. The upshot was that Gregory’s could still use the trademark in New Jersey, while Taco John’s would own it in the remaining 49 states.

The phrase, by the way, can be used by anyone in common speech. The trademark applies mainly to restaurants or those selling tacos to the general public. Not to families enjoying a taco night on Tuesday.

And therein lies a problem. Taco John’s very success with the trademark may be working against them in this age of social media. Searching for “Taco Tuesday” will turn up a few million hits. 

Longevity generally makes a trademark unassailable. Except when they become so popular they can no longer be defended. The term for that is brand “genericide.” Thermos, elevator, aspirin and even Apple’s ‘app’ store are among examples of things that were trademarked, until their own popularity and success did the trademark in.

Taco John’s Chief Marketing Officer Barry Westrum told Cowboy State Daily he believes Taco John’s trademark is still viable, as Tuesdays remain the chain’s best sales day of the week at all 370 of its restaurants across 23 states.

“(Taco Bell) just wants to put millions of dollars of advertising behind (Taco Tuesday) to appropriate it as their own,” Westrum said. “And we just don’t think that’s right for our customers, and for our franchisees, who have been enjoying Taco Tuesday for 34 years.”

Renee Jean can be reached at: Renee@CowboyStateDaily.com

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Renée Jean

Business and Tourism Reporter