I love Choco-Tacos. It’s been so long since I’ve had one. As far as I know, it’s the only dessert taco, the only one made out of ice cream. The whole idea is pure genius. Instead of using a crunchy corn tortilla, you take a crunchy sugar cone that’s shaped like a taco shell. And then instead of beef and cheese and lettuce and sour cream, you put in ice cream, chocolate, nuts, more chocolate. I’m telling you, it’s the best.
When I was in college, during my sophomore year, the university spent something like fourteen million dollars on demolishing the existing cafeteria and building a new state-of-the-art facility. What that meant, though, was that for an entire year, there was no proper cafeteria. Instead, they kind of just threw together this weird makeshift caf in the student center. Sandwiches were on a counter set up next to the bookstore, there was a line of chefs to the side cooking runny omelets over dorm-style hot plates.
And everything suffered. Everything except the dessert station. In the old caf there used to be this gross soft-serve frozen yogurt machine, one of these things that, the first time you saw it, like on your first day of class or whatever, you got all excited, you thought, holy shit, look at that soft-serve machine, unlimited ice cream, this is going to be great. But then you made yourself a cone, it came out of the machine all squeaky, and it didn’t have the right color, the taste was, I’d say medicinal, but even that pink goo they made us take for strep throat when we were little kids tasted better than this stuff.
So yeah, after I tried to put back at least a few spoonsful of the froyo, I realized that while there were hundreds of people in the caf, the soft-serve machine was all by its lonesome, just hanging out, ready for the next unsuspecting freshman to wander over for an after-lunch treat.
Sophomore year, it was gone, along with the rest of the old eating infrastructure. In its place, administration put a big industrial freezer, the same type of giant white box you’d see in your uncle’s garage upstate, “That’s where I keep all of the deer meat I collected this winter!” Inside was just a bunch of loose individually packaged ice cream products, like Good Humor bars, King Cones, neon green Incredible Hulk heads with gumballs for the eyes.
And Choco-Tacos. I loved it all. Never before in my life did I have such unfettered access to treats usually reserved for the rare times that I happened to run into an ice cream truck on the street. The best part about all of this was, it was all free. I mean, yeah, college was something like thirty grand a year, and that meal plan wasn’t cheap either, but that didn’t feel like real money at the time. I just swiped into the caf with my student ID and there I was, face to face with that cooler, screw it, I didn’t need a real lunch, all I needed was like four or five Choco-Tacos and maybe a Creamsicle or a Toasted Almond bar.
Normally I think back to the caf and I cringe at the whole system, the way that they mandated you buy an overpriced meal plan, how shitty the food normally was. It really was terrible, boring, greasy slop, the kind of stuff that justified those rumors you’d hear about the staff adding laxatives to every dish as an added prevention against food poisoning.
But it was kind of all worth it for that whole year of free ice cream. After we finished our in-caf desserts, we’d head back to that freezer and grab as many as we could, sprinting across campus to get those popsicles and Choco-Tacos into are miniature dorm-sized freezers before they melted totally. And then for the rest of the night we’d sit around and play video games and surf the Internet, binging on half melted Strawberry Shortcake bars or slushy Flavor Ices.
The other day I went to the grocery store and bought like three pints of Ben & Jerry’s. For a minute, I thought that I wouldn’t be able to contain myself, that I’d spend the whole night trying to nurse a serious ice cream headache. But no, it wasn’t the same. I had a few bites and got bored, the whole time wishing that I was back in school, eating myself sick on Choco-Taco Tuesday.