Briefing

Remembering the Choco Taco, gone too soon

'The world didn't just lose an ice cream taco, it lost its way'

Yes, inflation is sky high, and yes, climate change is cooking us all, but … have you heard The News? Ice-cream maker Klondike on Monday announced it is discontinuing its beloved Choco Taco — the chocolate-dipped ice cream treat packaged in a crunchy, taco-shaped cone shell — after almost 40 wonderful and delicious years. 

A long-running staple of pool snack bars and neighborhood ice cream trucks, the Choco Taco is, for many, a reminder of their youth: a relic of days spent frolicking outside, ignorant to the concept of bills, the word "deliverables," or the acronym "EOD." And its demise, which Unilever (Klondike's parent company) has blamed on portfolio availability issues, has America's collective sweet tooth rearing its ugly — and apparently very nostalgic — head. Here's everything you need to know: 

Why now? Why us?

Unilever initially broke the news on Monday: "Over the past two years, we have experienced an unprecedented spike in demand across our portfolio and have had to make very tough decisions to ensure availability of our full portfolio nationwide," the company said in a statement to The Washington Post. "A necessary but unfortunate part of this process is that we sometimes must discontinue products, even a beloved item like Choco Taco."

Klondike also eventually confirmed the rumors that had been circulating online. "Unfortunately, the Klondike Choco Taco has been discontinued," it wrote on Twitter on Monday, in response to a customer that was practically begging for better news. The brand then cited the same demand and availability issues as Unilever, before apologizing to the despondent user for "any disappointment." Notably, Klondike had confirmed as recently as last week that single-serving ice cream tacos were still available to consumers, despite the company having pulled its 4-packs from the market last fall, reports The New York Times.

The "legend of the Choco Taco," as Eater wrote years ago, first began back in 1983, when creator Alan Drazen was working in a management position at Philadelphia ice cream company Jack & Jill. As he reflected on the business during its off-season, Drazen was struck by the realization that Jack & Jill lacked its own unique, novelty ice cream offering for customers. Around that same time, the now-defunct Mexican restaurant chain Chi-Chi's was sweeping the nation. 

"Mexican food was the fastest-growing segment of the food industry, and the taco was the most recognizable shape," Drazen told Eater. Thus, the Choco Taco was born. "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," Drazen went on. "With the Choco Taco, you're getting the ice cream, cone, nuts, and chocolate with just about every bite." 

How have people reacted to the news?

The backlash to the beloved treat's discontinuation has been passionate, swift, and widespread. The metaphorical death has inspired countless tweets, a number of nostalgic eulogies, and even a few tongue-in-cheek legislative calls to protect the constitutional right to a Choco Taco (which, let's be honest, would never make it through the Senate).

"It was love at first sight. When I saw your photo on the menu stuck to the side of my neighborhood ice cream truck. I was 8, and you were stunning," Joseph Lamour wrote in an ice cream taco memorial for Today.com. "Yes, there have been other cold treats in my life, even ones that left us before you did … but you were my first love."

"The Choco Taco was the answer to a simple question: What if ice cream was tacos?" mused the Post's grief-stricken Steve Kolowich. "That kind of question makes perfect sense to a kid, and it must have been validating to think that some enlightened grown-ups at the food factory (or whatever) saw fit to answer it."

"I thought it would be here forever, and I always told myself I'll have one later, but later is here and a Choco Taco is not," mourned Reddit user FilthyGrunger, per NPR. "Honestly, if there was anything I could say about its passing, I would say that the world didn't just lose an ice cream taco, it lost its way."

Is all hope actually lost? 

Well … perhaps not. In fact, there seems to be speculation that this "discontinuation" is all a marketing stunt on Klondike's part, considering the company in February partnered with Taco Bell to offer Choco Tacos at 20 of the fast-food chain's locations. Not to mention Taco Bell has had its own luck with product revivals, after having "discontinued the fan-favorite Mexican Pizza in 2020, only to bring it back this year to rampant success," Eater notes. 

That said, however, Klondike did correct one Twitter user in its damage-control reply spree, writing "[T]his isn't just a stunt — the Choco Taco really is discontinued." But — BUT! — the brand continued, "we've been overwhelmed by the response from our fans, and will be working hard to figure out a way to bring this beloved item back as soon as we can."

Where can I still get a Choco Taco?

You might still be able to purchase the increasingly-rare treat at your favorite ice cream truck or snack bar, but only while supplies last (i.e. run, don't walk). Otherwise, perhaps it will soon be found hiding among its brethren at Taco Bell.

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