Why You Might Get a Stick of Dynamite If You Order a Taco

Shrimp Tacos with Pickled-Red-Onion Salad © Quentin Bacon
By Annie Quigley Posted August 12, 2015

If you ever find yourself in 19th century Mexico, be careful when you ask for a taco.

In this series, we reveal the secrets, histories and quirky bits of trivia behind your favorite foods.

The word "taco" isn't as old as you may think. From a Spanish word meaning "plug" or "wad," "taco" wasn't used in common parlance until the 19th century.

Taco scholars (they exist) believe that the taco was most likely invented in the 1800s by Mexican silver miners. For the miners, a "taco" was a paper-wrapped stick of gunpowder used to excavate the mines. If you think about it, a tightly rolled taco does look a lot like a rolled-up charge. That theory is further supported by the fact that one of the first types of edible tacos ever referenced in a written record was a taco de minero, or miner's taco.

The next time you're peckish, plug your hunger with a taco—preferably the meat- or vegetable-filled, not dynamite. Here, F&W's ultimate taco guide to get you started.

Related: 12 Delicious Fish Tacos
Best Taco Spots in the U.S.
How to Make a Tortilla

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