The Sweets Issue
Everyone has heard Marty Robbins's tragic love ballad "El Paso," but fewer people know his cover of the 1924 obscure folk song "Choco in My Taco." It's a surprisingly stirring dirge about a kindhearted Mexican bandito named Paco who, through a mishap involving "one of them newfangled aeroplanes," crash-lands in the frozen wastelands of northern Canada. Paco staggers to and fro, delirious and frostbitten, until he finally collapses into a snowbank, where a beautiful Inuit woman—or "Eskimo"—named Buniq nurses him back to health.
Paco and Buniq fall in love—Robbins's soft-voiced account of "Buniq's almond eyes" and "Paco's bristly mustache" evokes a surprisingly sensual lovemaking sequence—and marry. Buniq's father, Tupilek, casts them out, and the star-crossed lovers wander south to a suburb of Madison, Wisconsin. They open an ice cream stand and combine Buniq's love of quiescently frozen treats with Paco's lifelong devotion to the taco as a food-delivery device, creating the Choco Taco, which stands as a symbol of their improbable love affair. Finally, the Ku Klux Klan raids Paco and Buniq's house and stones the husband and wife to death with "cans of beans and frozen whale blubber."
Folklorists from the University of Wisconsin at Madison have recently issued a surprising report declaring that the events in "Choco in My Taco" were in fact largely true. "Paco" was a Mexican gold prospector named Gabriel who traveled by train to Yellowknife and fell in love with an Inuit woman whose name is unknown. But their fate was remarkably similar to the song, and the delicious treat that was inspired by their love is very real. Today, the Choco Taco is sold by Klondike, a division of the Unilever corporation, but the essence of the thing—ice cream shot through with fudge ripples, served in a chocolate-lined waffle taco shell and topped with chocolate and crushed peanuts—is just as simple, and as delicious, as it was almost a hundred years ago. (Klondike has made slight variations to the theme, with an all-chocolate Choco Taco and an announced peanut butter variation listed on their website.) To this day, when an ice cream truck stops in your neighborhood, the Choco Taco is your best bet for deliciousness.