National TV Taco Night in Taconite?

PHOTO: Ken Fager, Flickr CC

PHOTO: Ken Fager, Flickr CC

It’s entirely possible I learned about “taconite,” the iron laden rock processed into pellets to make steel, before I grasped the notion of “taco night,” a night in which one eats tacos. And I’m probably not the only kid from Northern Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range who can say that. My family never served Mexican food and I don’t know that I ate a salad until I moved in with my girlfriend during college.

But once taco awareness took hold, it was hard to avoid the realization that Taconite, the region’s biggest commodity and a town that bears the same name, looks a little like “Taco Night.”

That ongoing mildly amusing joke is just part of the tapestry of modern life on the Iron Range. And now there’s a chance this pun will go national.

The Scenic Range News Forum, a fine weekly newspaper on the western Mesabi, reports that a Minneapolis ad agency representing Old El Paso, a major producer of taco shells and fixins,’ addressed the July 13 Taconite City Council meeting. Their proposal: let Old El Paso host a community-wide taco night which they would film for a national TV ad.

King said “Taco Night” would feature a community night of food and fun when locals could taste Old El Paso products in an authentic small town setting. In addition to the recognition, the agency said it would pay the city $10,000 as a fee for using the town as a venue.

“The style of this thing would be very real and natural,” King told councilors. “We don’t want this to feel like the circus is coming to town.”

Fallon Account Director Jordon Rossman likened the feel of the commercial to another filmed by her agency – an H & R Block tax refund spot shot in the small southern town of Greenback.

Old El Paso is a subsidiary of General Mills, one of Minnesota’s biggest homegrown companies.

But not everyone was immediately sold on the prospect. Councilor Deacon Kyllander expressed concern that the town would be widely called “taco night,” rather than the correct pronunciation as a result. “I’m not in favor, myself,” he said.

After Fallon executives attempted to assure city officials that any commercial would be respectful to the town and its name, councilors opted to move forward with drafting a location contract. The council, however, reserved the right to review any binding agreement before final approval. The city’s attorney also will review the document.

Executives from Fallon indicated a preference for shooting the commercial this summer, perhaps within a month, if the city gives the project a green light.

The Scenic Range News Forum has the full story.

What kind of city council on this planet would deny their citizens free tacos? And for those worried about the pronunciation being different (we say “TACK-o-nite,” while the world eats “Tah-coes”), just know that the locals are still free to say TACK-o-nite and TACK-oes. In fact, they will anyway.



  1. John Ramos says

    And afterwards, all of the Porta-Potties at the event would be filled with valuable Taco Night pellets.

  2. Sounds like fun and the town should go for it. I just can’t imagine how it would occur to anyone that the town might thereafter be called Taco Night and be seriously concerned! He is quite the worrywart and needs to lighten up.

  3. Bill Brown says

    OMG, what is coming next ? A condom commercial make in Climax, Minnesota ? Or a shameful face filmed in Embarrass, Minnesota ? Or a Family Planning ad in Fertile, Minnesota ? Or a pain relief pill ad from Paynesville, Minnesota ? Or Firefighters’ support ad from Burnsville, Minnesota ? We will become the Land of 10,000 Akes.

  4. Lauren Kerr says

    I am from the Iron Range(Hibbing) as well. I moved down to Central Florida, got married and brought my wife to MN. We were driving from Hibbing to Grand Rapids, and of course went through Taconite. My wife stated “Taco Nite?” What kind of town is named after eating Tacos? I laughed and told her the pronunciation on it. I guess there is a lot of people that say it that way.

  5. Terrianne Thiel-Machin says

    Growing up on the range I thought I had tasted every kind of food concealable. Latvian, Slovenian, Greek,. Swedish, Finnish, Italian, English, Irish, Jewish deli, Scottish, Polish, German, created in the Range and even Chinese. I thought I was a gourmand. I went away to school and the fare didn’t change except that the world of fast food. When I was 20 I went to California. Dining wise I thought I was in Outer Mongolia. Taco’s everywhere. I did not like them then and I don’t care for them now. I do appreciate a good Avocado and Mexican Cheese Dip but to stop at a stand and purchase a Taco by choice, never. But Taco’s for Taconite….I say go for it “the more publicity and money for the town is well worth eating re-fried beans”

  6. Terrianne Thiel-Machin says

    I wrote conceivable not concealable…stupid spell check.

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