“There is no such thing as a free lunch” is a phrase oft repeated in neoliberal circles, and popularized by the American economist Milton Friedman. This mantra, widely used to criticize free public services, does not seem to have guided the thousands of people who have approached Taco Bell stores in Spain this Tuesday. The chain has given away its basic taco – which is normally sold at 2.95 euros – to anyone who had the patience to queue to get it. “People see free food and go crazy,” says a young woman before entering her for her taco in one of her stores in the center of Madrid.
This campaign, announced by the chain on Thursday and celebrated on the occasion of National Taco Day (the national day of the taco in the United States) has caused a furor on social networks. Spain is the second country with the most locations of the Tex Mex food chain, only behind the United States. This year it reached a hundred establishments and is already present in 28 Spanish provinces. In 2021, its turnover increased by more than 70%, after a pandemic that negatively affected its turnover.
We always want to make you happy and we always have the doubt of whether we will be achieving it. But today, there is no fault 😏
Mention someone you want to make as happy as me. #EtiqueTaco pic.twitter.com/v46WGNO5E4
– Taco Bell Spain (@TacoBellSpain) October 4, 2022
Carmen, a 21-year-old Law and Business Administration student, poses for a photo that a friend is taking of her in front of the chain’s premises next to Plaza de Callao. It’s the first time she’s been to a Taco Bell and she comes just for the deal. Both she and her friend, in sight of the queue, go to another of the four stores that the chain has in the triangle formed by Plaza de Callao, the Gran Vía Metro station and Plaza de Sol de Madrid. The prize, a taco that can be chicken or minced meat, accompanied by lettuce, cheese and sour cream. A teenage girl, laden with her high school backpack, and possessed by a fit of eco-consciousness, convinces her friends to wait in line for her, because “free stuff doesn’t go to waste.”
“Am I going to try it for the first time? Can Why is it free? Surely? ”, A young woman exclaims to her friends before entering the premises that the chain has on Calle Mayor in Madrid. In the queues, in a patriotic display of picaresque, you can see several familiar faces from other locals. Some customers take the opportunity to do the tour and get a couple more tacos. The ordering screens are empty and rarely does anyone come out with anything other than their free taco. There is no need to tell employees what you want. The clerk of one of these places avoids the formalities by serving those who queue. He automatically asks: “Meat or chicken?”, and depending on the answer, he gives one of the many small packages that his accelerated companion deposits on a tray on the counter.
Ledington, a young man who works in a Latin restaurant near one of the Taco Bells, endorses Friedman’s statement and says: “I would be ashamed to waste 20 minutes of my time waiting for something worth two euros.” That same shame to which he alludes is the one that seems to be felt by two women in their 40s who, overwhelmed by the number of people in the premises, escape from the queue. As if they fear reprisals, they refuse to give their name or their age. Beside her, a woman in her 50s asks a young man who is leaving the store if she will let him see the product. After skimming through it, she gives the universal shrug, and walks into the crowded locale for her free taco.