1914: The earliest known American taco recipe appears in Bertha Haffner-Ginger’s California Mexican-Spanish Cook Book. Its hard shell still freaks out authenticistas.
1931: Cielito Lindo opens on Olvera Street. The taquitos are the first taco variation to gain popularity in the region. The line of customers has remained constant.
1951: Glen Bell steals the crunchy taco recipe from Mitla Café in San Bernardino and launches his fast-food empire, Taco Bell, across the street.
1974: Raul Martinez Sr. launches King Taco, America’s first full-fledged taco truck, in East L.A. When the truck is lost in a fire, not even the carne asada survives.
2007: Dylan Ho blogs about the Korean tacos from his UC Irvine undergrad days, inspiring the creation of Kogi BBQ. He returns to obscurity (and a successful photography career).
2012: Taco Bell debuts Day-Glo orange Doritos Locos tacos. As purists howl, the rest of America eats them up. Tacopalypse now.
This article appears in Los Angeles magazine’s June 2015 cover story, “Taco City.”