Survey: 2% of Americans have never eaten a taco

Illustration for article titled Survey: 2% of Americans have never eaten a taco
Photo: rez-art (iStock)

My fellow Americans, a silent tragedy plays out every day in this country. Across our fair land, 6.5 million of our brothers and sisters suffer every day in the shadows. But now that their plight has come to our attention, we can no longer ignore this chilling reality: 2% of Americans have never eaten a taco. What can each of us to do to reduce this disturbing statistic? Ask not what your country can do for you, ask your friends to make sure they’ve eaten a taco before. I propose a nationwide program of Taco Wellness Checks.


The harrowing statistic comes courtesy of food brand Ortega, which commissioned a Suzy poll of more than 8,600 Americans, asking them about taco preferences. We’ll get to results about toppings and tortilla styles in a bit, but the most shocking number is the 2% of people who claim to have never eaten a taco. [Outkast voice] Never, never ever, not never ever?

Last summer, my family was on vacation to Florida with my 87-year-old Oma in tow. After my brother and I and our significant others completed a successful fishing trip, we came back to the house we’d rented to cook fresh fish tacos for everyone. My Oma claimed, hand to god, she’d never eaten a taco before. I still find this hard to believe—just… how?—but she did seem genuinely perplexed by tortillas. She asked us how a person assembles and eats a taco.

That my Oma is not alone in her taco ignorance is shocking. What’s less shocking is that Arizona is the country’s top taco-consuming state, and that among Americans who have consumed tacos, a majority (53%) prefer soft shells to hard shells. Bravo. Cheese ranked as most states’ top taco topping—come on guys, salsa! But no matter how you top your taco or which tortillas you use, please, make sure you’re spreading the taco love to your friends and family. The only thing worse than a boring taco is no taco at all.

Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.



A few things here...

1) I’m actually impressed that the percentage is so small.

2a) The fact that a (slim) majority prefer soft shells does give me hope for our future, but I feel like that needs a further breakdown: corn or flour? (the answer is corn)

2b) Speaking of corn vs. flour, apparently flour tortilla chips are a thing here in Omaha, NE. A few months ago, after recently moving here, the Lambic family went to dinner at a tex-mex restaurant. When they brought out the complimentary chips and salsa, the chips were fried flour tortilla chips. Now, I’m all for variety and changing things up, and fried flour tortillas can be okay for a dessert-type thing when dusted with cinnamon sugar (like a poor man’s churro or something), but we were appalled that this was their standard chip offering—you had to specifically request corn tortilla chips. We later found that apparently there is a segment of lost souls in Omaha that actually prefer the flour tortilla chips and eat at this franchise specifically because of that feature. Gag.

3) Lastly, while I’m not surprised that cheese is the #1 topping, I will say that you don’t necessarily need salsa for a good taco. Well, unless we’re going to broaden the meaning of salsa to also include things like sauce and such. To wit: I made some fish tacos awhile back where, instead of salsa, it utilized an adobo crema. Personally, my #1 taco topping is onions, whether that’s raw white onions on a traditional carne asada (with cilantro, of course) or a bit more avan garde pickled onions on a fish or carnitas taco.