It is with a heavy heart and profound sadness I share the news the Choco Taco is no more. Klondike, makers of the famous taco-shaped ice cream treat, has discontinued it in order to streamline its product line.
We’ve lost an ice cream hero.
This calls is some kind of memorial. A Choco Taco funeral. Ice cream trucks will form a procession, each playing an ice cream truck version of “Taps.” Ben can say a few words. Jerry, too.
We’ll feel awful, awful about it all. But we’ll tell a few stories (all in good humor) and cherish the memories the Choco Taco left behind. We’ll drop one last Choco Taco on the sidewalk to melt away in the afternoon sun in fitting tribute.
The genius of the Choco Taco was its shape, and creator Alan Drazen knew this. He was quoted as saying, “When you eat a sugar cone, you generally eat the nuts, chocolate and ice cream on the top, and then when you get to the cone, you’re (only) eating ice cream and cone. With the Choco Taco, you’re getting the ice cream, cone, nuts, and chocolate with just about every bite.”
Drazen created the famous treat in 1983 while working in management for Jack & Jill Ice Cream out of Philadelphia. He was trying to find a marquis item for Jack & Jill that would compete with recognizable brands like Popsicles, Klondike Bars, and Drumsticks.
At the time, Mexican was the fastest-growing segment of the food industry. So Drazen made a waffle cone into a taco shell and then carefully added fudge swirled ice cream. He soon learned that adding fudge to the inside would keep the taco shell from crumbling and also keep the nuts in place across the top.
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The Choco Taco was ready and the world was ready for the Choco Taco.
Progress is a tricky thing. We are always excited to hear about the newest and best things on the market. We want the new tastes. We want to find the hidden gems. But while we may be excited for what’s coming, we also get a little protective of what we have.
When we hear something is being taken from us, we take umbrage. We resist the change. Have you ever had your favorite dish at a restaurant removed from the menu? You take it personally.
“Don’t they know that’s what I get? Why would they do this to me? Will they still make it?”
The fact is, the decision to remove anything from a menu or production is always based on numbers. There are not enough orders. It costs too much to make. We make more money on other products. That is probably why Klondike pulled the plug on the Choco Taco.
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It could make a comeback someday. Sometimes, if there’s enough public outcry, manufacturers will put retired items back in production. Sometimes the rights to the product are sold to another company.
Hostess cupcakes disappeared for a short time amid some Hostess turmoil. Planters Cheez Balls came back after a decade-long hiatus. Even Zima came back — although I can’t imagine that was by popular demand.
Yet somehow when things come back after an extended product vacation, they never seem the same. Will the next generation Choco Taco have the same chewy shell? Will the fudge swirl be the same? Will the wrapper feel the same in your hand? We’ll have to see what happens. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. We’re still mourning the original.
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The idea of a Choco Taco-less world makes me sad. And in this moment of grief, I’d like to set forth a challenge to our local ice cream sellers. We can’t let ice cream-filled tacos be banished to the Island of Discontinued Treats. We need to push forward and bring the people more ice cream tacos.
The folks at Frosty Freez bake their own cookies for ice cream sandwiches. Can they start baking some waffle cone tacos? Can the up-and-coming ice cream entrepreneur Tyler Rosenberg, owner of both Ben & Jerry’s franchises in Newport, make ice cream tacos happen just as founders Ben Cohn and Jerry Greenfield made cookie-dough ice cream a reality?
C’mon, Kilwin’s Chocolates and Ice cream! You already have the ice cream and the chocolate fudge right there. There’s a void in the world of ice cream treats and we’re hoping our local ice cream artisans can fill it.
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Until the ice cream makers find a solution, we will keep Choco Tacos in our thoughts and prayers. We’ll think of them each time we reach our hand into the convenient store freezer and notice empty space between the Chipwich and the Screwball.
We’ll raise our melted ice cream covered hands to the sky in lamentation. We’ll tell future generations about the days when we used to eat ice cream in waffle cone tacos, and how it was glorious.
Dan Lederer is a Middletown resident with 30 years experience in the food service industry throughout New England. He continues to work locally behind the scenes within the industry and remains a devoted fan of all things restaurant and hospitality related. His column appears on newportri.com and Thursdays in The Daily News. Cheers!