America’s ice cream lovers were hit hard this week when Unilever confirmed rumors it was discontinuing its Klondike Choco Taco bar, a favorite on candy trucks and supermarket freezers for nearly 40 years. . But the Choco Taco is just the latest in a long series of declines over the past two years, as big food corporations have adjusted for inflation and supply shortages by adjusting their product lines.
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“We have experienced an unprecedented increase in demand for our bag and have had to make very difficult decisions to ensure the availability of our full bag across the country,” the Klondike Twitter account wrote on Monday.
The Choco Taco, a vanilla ice cream core topped with crunchy peanuts and chocolate and encased in a sugar cone-like shell, was especially appreciated by connoisseurs for the way it was possible to get all the elements in one bite at a time. instead of doing it in parts, as with the Good Humor Drumstick.
Some mourners from Twitter accepted that they had not eaten a choco taco since childhoodbut the pain was real. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut Announced that it was “introducing legislation to invoke the Defense Production Act to mandate the continued manufacture of Choco Tacos.” Alexis Ohanian, founder of Reddit, offered buy the rights to Unilever’s Choco Taco “and prevent it from melting into the infancy of future generations.”
London-based Unilever’s ice cream portfolio is extensive: it also includes Ben & Jerry’s, Magnum, Good Humor, Breyer’s and Talenti, as well as Popsicle. Coca-Cola, which has an equally large beverage portfolio, justified discontinuing the Tab diet soda and Odwalla juices in 2020 by explaining that those products were not doing well. “The goal is to drive impact and growth,” Cath Coetzer, the company’s global head of innovation and marketing operations, said at the time. “It’s about continuing to follow the consumer and being very intentional in deciding which of our brands are most deserving of our investments and resources, and also taking the difficult but important steps to identify those products that are losing relevance and therefore need to be phased out. wallet. ”
Similarly, many restaurant chains have simplified their menus during the pandemic, including Denny’s, Applebee’s, Ihop, McDonald’s and Taco Bell, to maintain profit margins in the face of increased supply and labor costs.
A Klondike spokeswoman noted in an email that there had been a constant turnover of products in the company’s line: Last year, the Klondike Donut was pulled from store shelves with little fanfare, eventually being replaced by a new line of shakes and cones. The Klondike Donut, however, did not have the celebrity status of the Choco Taco, which, according to a 2016 Eater story, inspired several unlikely legends about its creation, as well as high-end imitations from celebrity chefs, including Dominique Ansel, the inventor of the cronut
Ice cream aficionados have had a rough week. Photograph: Geraint Rowland Photography/Getty Images
Perhaps the closest analogue to the Choco Taco is Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza. (Coincidentally, Taco Bell also served the Choco Taco in a limited promotion earlier this year.) A mix of beef and refried beans sandwiched between two tortillas and served with melted cheese, the Mexican pizza has also enjoyed cult status for more than 30 years. years, particularly among South Asian Americans and vegetarians who liked it to taste essentially the same without the beef, but it was one of the first items to disappear during Taco Bell’s late-2020 menu purge: the The restaurant claimed in a press release that the Mexican pizza packaging accounted for more than 7 million pounds of cardboard a year in the US, interfering with the company’s commitment to a smaller ecological footprint. Additionally, the Mexican pizza had a more complex assembly process than other Taco Bell items, putting pressure on a smaller workforce.
But after a year and a half of consistent fan requests, Taco Bell announced it was bringing back Mexican pizza this May. (To celebrate, Dolly Parton and Doja Cat announced they would be appearing in a TikTok video called Mexican Pizza: The Musical.) The company said it had trained its workers and prepared them for an onslaught of fans, but the demand was overwhelming: In a notice on its website, Taco Bell reported that one store had sold 1,000 Mexican pizzas in a single day, a A fan had ordered 180 at one time, and overall the demand had been seven times greater than when the item had previously appeared on the menu.
Some fans of both the Mexican pizza and Choco Taco conspiracy couldn’t help but see a similarity. Perhaps the discontinuation of the Choco Taco was just a publicity stunt to revive interest in a longstanding food through engineered shortages, similar to the Popeyes chicken sandwich shortage in fall 2019, which only made them more popular.
“My friends, the Choco Taco is 100% coming back and they’re going to say our outrage is the reason it’s back, just like Mexican pizza.” tweeted television director Payman Benz. “This is the new thing brands are doing with old favorites that don’t sell like they used to.”
This week, Taco Bell once again conceded defeat, telling customers it would hold off on Mexican pizza until supplies could be replenished, possibly in September. There is nothing like limiting supply to increase demand.