No, TikTok Did Not Invent Flat Tacos

The cyclical nature of the internet means that, at this point, almost everything we see online has been done before. From this supposedly brand-new salmon skin hack that has been referenced on recipe blogs for years, to the migration of fast-food mukbangs over from YouTube, TikTokers in particular love to feel like they are making revolutionary new food discoveries. In reality, they are often repurposing old trends and hacks from other platforms. 

Sometimes, though, this goes even further — and people award themselves undue credit for inventing foods that have existed in other cultures for centuries. This initially seemed to be the case with a viral clip about Mexican food that has recently circulated on TikTok. In a video with over 1 million likes, user @petro_clips aka Petro reacts to a clip in which a white woman claims to have invented something called "flat tacos" — pork, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese on top of a crispy corn tortilla. "It's a tostada," @petro_clips says while holding a glass of wine, before calling the OP "Christina Columbus." People in the comments section agreed. "Everybody's so creative," someone commented — referencing a viral phrase often employed as a reaction to deliberately ridiculous, rage-bait recipes.

The origin of tostadas

It turns out that nobody was claiming to have invented flat tacos in this TikTok video. The creator of the original video, @dimelifting aka Nicole, has explained that it was intended to be satire — and was written and directed by her Mexican father and husband. "I know what tostadas are. I'm not trying to colonize anything," she clarified. However, TikTok users continue to react negatively to her clip of the "gentrified tostadas," as those in the original comments section nicknamed them. It's understandable that Nicole's video might have been seen as cultural appropriation — TikTok has recently come under fire for a wave of videos in which white people gentrify Latinx foods, via PureWow. These include cowboy caviar — a viral dish made from peppers, beans, corn, and cheese that closely resembles pico de gallo, and spa water — a version of traditional agua fresca reinvented as a wellness drink.


#stitch with @dimelifting flat tacos! 🤙🏻🤙🏻🤙🏻

♬ original sound – Petro

In reality, "flat tacos" or tostadas have been around much longer than social media. Although information regarding their exact origin isn't readily available, they have been a traditional part of Mexican cuisine for thousands of years. Their existence can be traced back around 2000 years to Oaxaca, Mexico — and it's probable they were eaten as a way to use up older tortillas.

While Nicole might not have been trying to make "flat tacos" happen, it remains important to remember that most foods we eat probably weren't invented on, or for, TikTok.