KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Mexican cuisine aficionados, rejoice: It’s National Taco Day in the United States and popular restaurant chains that specialize in the food are offering deals to celebrate. Apart from where to find free tacos, the history of the food can also be explored.

October 4 is National Taco Day and according to NationalTacoDay.com, Americans consumed more than 4.5 billion tacos last year. The “taco” is said to have originated in a town in Mexico where mineworkers ate a variety of the small tortilla sandwich.

‘Tortilla’ and ‘Tlaxcalli’

A taco is often comprised of a cornmeal or wheat flour flatbread tortilla (not to be confused with the Spanish tortilla, which is a disc-like omelet made of egg and potato usually served in wedges) rolled around fillings such as meat, cheese, vegetables, tomatoes, legumes and peppers. Some tacos are also served open, with the mix of foods sitting atop the tortilla. In fact, the word tortilla is a Spanish word that Spanish invaders who arrived in the Americas centuries ago called the Indigenous peoples’ corn flatbread, the tlaxcalli, because of its similar round structure to the Spanish omelet.

The word tlaxcalli is an Aztec language word for the cornmeal flatbread. Most ancient civilizations created and ate flatbreads that were used for everyday cuisine: From Egypt to Scandanavia to Mesopotamia to India to Greece to Asia and the Americas, flatbreads were a staple food. Today, some flatbreads are still known in modern societies and consumed with different foods; however, some are a little more processed than what the ancestors created.

National Taco Day

Restaurant chains such as Taco Bell, Chipotle and others are offering deals and yes — some free tacos to celebrate the day.

Taco Bell tweeted the night before Oct. 4 in anticipation of the national day saying customers will get a free Crunchy Taco with any qualifying purchase for Taco Bell Rewards members. Chipotle is giving away free chips and guacamole with a first purchase as a rewards member.

Long John Silver’s – although a seafood-centric restaurant chain, misgiving away a free taco with the purchase of a combo meal. Moe’s Southwestern Grill is offering new members of its loyalty program a free cup of queso.

There may be more deals to find around town for National Taco Day, so we’ll be on the lookout and update this story.

Happy National Taco Day!