After collective grief over the death of the Choco Taco last month, frozen dessert maker Klondike teased this week that the delicious treat may be on hiatus for a while.
Avid Choco Taco fans wringed their hands last week when Unilever, Klondike’s parent company, announced that: it will say goodbye to a nearly 40-year-old dessert that generations of children happily devoured.
Oliver said that because the company had “unprecedented growth in demand for our portfolio”, other products in its line should be produced instead of the Choco Taco.
But on Wednesday, Klondike responded on Twitter to a woman who had searched throughout her area and surrounding towns for the last Choco Tacos. She shared her grief online after her search was unsuccessful, and Klondike seemed moved by it.
We know this is frustrating. we’ve listened to our fans, and we hope to bring this beloved treat back to ice cream trucks for years to come.
— Klondike (@Klondikebar) August 3, 2022
The history of the Choco Taco dates back to Alan Drazen, a Northeast Philadelphia native who created the dessert in 1983. Drazen was working at the time Jack & Jill ice creamFounded in 1929 in Philadelphia, the family-owned company is now based in Moorestown, New Jersey.
“It’s one of the most iconic ice cream innovations of all time,” said Drazen, who told PhillyVoice he was “somewhat surprised (and) very disappointed by the Unilever news. Jack & Jill Ice Cream has been purchased by Good Humor-Breyers, a division of Unilever. Klondike owns the manufacturing rights to the Choco Taco, but the patent is still owned by Jack & Jill.
Unique for its time, Drazen’s Choco Taco departed from the typical cone and sandwich that dominated the frozen dessert industry. The shell structure was a game-changer that retained the benefits of the filling, the peanut coating and milk chocolate seal, while allowing it to be eaten in a portable, mess-free way.
The drug’s origin story has become the stuff of legend. Drazen once told Ate a fantastic fable about how he imagines an ice cream taco on a quest in Mexico. But actually, he said he came up with it while sitting at his desk in the Jack & Jill office.
Compared to other ice cream treats, the novelty of the Choco Taco is a big reason why more than a billion of them have been sold, and public figures alike. Alexis OhanyanCo-founder of Reddit and Connecticut’s US Senator Chris Murphytweeted about keeping the product alive.
Drazen said he believes the product was likely discontinued for a number of reasons.
“My feeling is that it’s probably the supply chain issues that have affected the food industry everywhere,” he said.
Drazen recalled that establishing Choco Taco’s supply chain in 1983 was also a challenge.
It has a unique manufacturing process that Jack & Jill has established through its relationship with Gold Bond, an ice cream maker in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The company that Klondike later bought had both an ice cream and a sugar cone factory on opposite sides of town.
A factory machine had to be modified to fold the wafers into a taco shape instead of a cone. The pods would then be trucked across town, where another machine was modified to scoop out the ice cream horizontally instead of vertically.
Another possibility is that despite all the sadness and nostalgia surrounding Choco Tacos, people may love the memory of eating them more than actually buying them with any regularity.
In the early 1980s, Drazen came up with the idea when food from south of the border was becoming mainstream.
“Mexican food was the fastest growing segment of the food industry, and the taco was the most recognizable form,” he said. “It seemed like it would be something that would be very recognizable to the American consumer.”
By 1983, tacos were a household name, but they were still exotic and trendy in many parts of the country. This made Choco Taco the perfect brand of the moment.
This treatment quickly became a hit at local pharmacies and among Drazen’s friends in the ice cream industry.
Drazen began driving an ice cream truck for Good Humor in the 1970s. One of the company’s factories was near his childhood home on Longshore Avenue. Being a driver there was one of the best jobs available in the district at the time, he said.
Chaco Tacos got their big break in 1989 when Taco Bell started selling them. Although Drazen said starting a relationship is difficult, it’s important. In some years, Taco Bell sold 20% of all Choco Tacos. This is why many mistakenly believe that the chain invented them.
Drazen believes the restored relationship and the product would have survived as a whole had the supply chain problems not occurred.
“It hasn’t lost its power because of a lack of consumer interest,” Drazen said. “I think it makes the most sense that it will come back one day. . . . (The product) means a lot to a lot of people.”
Since Jack & Jill owns the patent, the company is free to sell or license the Choco Taco to a new manufacturer.
Klondike may realize that the decision to ditch Choco Tacos was a little premature. They may underestimate how much people want around them, and the lengths they will go to get what is left of them.
This week’s Klondike tweet was a bit informal, but the specific mention of bringing them back in the coming years with ice cream trucks, in particular, could be a happy twist to this tale. If you want enough Choco Taco, you have to hurry out.