The national travel site Thrillist published a list today ranking "Every State's Most Important Food Innovation". Not surprisingly, the Taco John's restaurant chain was named as the most influential place in Wyoming.

According to Mental Floss, the chain, which now boasts over 400 franchises in 25 states, was founded by a former United States Air Force officer in Cheyenne.

After retiring from the military, John Turner worked as a manager for McDonald's. His first restaurant began in camper parked outside of Cheyenne Frontier Days in 1968. Before long, Turner's "Taco House" was one of the most popular places in town.

A year later, Turner was approached by two local investors with a plan to franchise the "Taco House" under the name "Taco John's". By purchasing old full-service gas stations, which began to decline in the 1970s, the upstart chain quickly expanded across the west and midwest.

In 1979, the company introduced what would become one of their most popular menu items, the Potato Ole. A decade later, in 1989, the company officially trademarked the slogan "Taco Tuesday", which drew criticism from other restaurants who had previously used the promotion.

The company has also become well known for its unique advertising and marketing campaigns. One of their most popular television commercials featured a monkey, dressed in Cowboy gear, riding a dog.

Nearly 50 years after its humble beginnings, Taco John's is still privately owned and operated in Cheyenne.


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