Free Tacos and the World Series: How Taco Bell’s Promotion Became a Cottage Industry

Taco Tuesday has been rescheduled for Thursday this week.

Taco Bell, for the seventh consecutive year, will offer a free taco to anyone who wants one on November 1 from 2:00-6:00 p.m. local time as part of its recurring World Series “Steal a Base, Steal a Taco” promotion.

It’s a giveaway that likely doesn’t cost the company much in product as customers are likely to grab a drink or some item to accompany the free food. But it has become a marketing bonanza—so much so that other companies are hoping to get in on the action.

Topps, whose baseball cards are as much a part of baseball as the seventh inning stretch, has partnered with Taco Bell this year, creating a limited series of trading cards featuring the six players who have recorded the first World Series’ stolen base since the fast food chain started the offer in 2007.

Those are likely to become collectors items, as they were only made available at restaurants around Fenway Park and Dodger Stadium this year. If you couldn’t make it to Boston or Los Angeles for the game, you could get a pack by purchasing a commemorative “Taco Hero” hat for $30. (Don’t laugh. The hats are currently sold out.)

Taco Bell’s promotion is hardly the only food- and beverage-based one tied to the World Series, but it has become one of the best known.

As for Major League Baseball? It can’t get enough of the promotion as it creates a buzz for the game. (A welcome bit of good news, given that ratings were down sharply during this year’s Fall Classic and MLB average attendance hit a 15-year low this year.) It also presents a hook to keep viewers engaged.

“We’ve created a fun tradition for our fans with Taco Bell and the ‘Steal a Base, Steal a Taco’ promotion,” said Noah Garden, MLB’s executive vice president of commerce, in a statement. “It makes for a unique moment every year during the World Series.”

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