A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 28, 2007
Walking Taco (Taco-in-a-Bag; Petro’s)

"Walking Taco” or “Taco-in-a-Bag” are not really tacos, but are Midwest names for the Texas dish called “Frito pie.” A bag of Frito’s corn chips is opened and topped with various ingredients, such as cheese, beans, tomatoes, onions, ground beef, guacamole, and salsa.

The “walking frito pie” began in Knoxville, Tennessee, at the 1982 World’s Fair. Petro’s Chili & Chips (now a restaurant chain) established a booth at the Fair; the Fair’s theme was “energy,” and the product was originally named “Petroleum Belly.” The “walking taco” quickly became popular at other fairs in Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois in the 1980s and 1990s.


Wikipedia: Frito pie
Frito pie (also known as “Frito Chili Pie,” “Frito Boat”, “Chili Frito Casserole” or, in the Midwest, a “Walking Taco") is a corn chip and chili con carne dish of disputed origin, popular in the South Western United States.

A basic Frito pie typically consists of a small single-serving bag of Fritos corn chips, with a cup of chili poured over the top, usually finished up with grated cheese or onions and jalapeños and sour cream. Because there are so many Fritos compared to the amount of chili, only part of the Fritos will get saturated by the chili, and most will stay at least partly crunchy.

In the Midwestern United States, there is a variation called a “walking taco”. Along with Fritos, Nacho Cheese Doritos are commonly used as the chip base, and the meal is almost always eaten “in the bag”. Another difference between a walking taco and a Frito pie is that walking tacos rarely have chili in them, using seasoned beef or pork instead. After the meat goes in the bag, it is finished with cheese, lettuce, tomato, salsa, sour cream, or any taco-friendly topping the eater wishes. Walking tacos are popular in the Midwest at sports venues, fundraisers, open houses, and more recently, the Iowa State Fair. 

The History of Petro’s
In 1982 Knoxville, Tennessee hosted a World’s Fair emphasizing Energy. In keeping with the energy theme of the Fair, Petro’s Chili & Chips was originally named “Petroleum Belly”, then shortened to “Petro Belly”, then abbreviated to “Petro.” A delicious blend of tex-mex flavors, Petro’s is the only southwestern fast-food concept of its kind. Originally served in a Frito bag with chili and toppings, the Petro was an instant hit with fairgoers. Initially the labels “Regular,” “Premium,” and “Super Premium” were used to describe the sizes of the Petros, also in keeping with the energy theme. 

Petro’s Menu
The Petro®
Each made-to-order Petro® is made with Fritos® corn chips covered with your choice of one of our world- famous specialty chilis (Original, Chicken or Veggie) and grated cheeses,
chopped tomatoes, green onions, and sour cream. Add optional black olives, jalapeños or home-style salsa for extra zest!  Small, Medium, & Large

Cooks.com
WALKING TACO
1 can refried beans
1 (8 oz.) sour cream
1 (8 oz.) jar salsa
1 can black olives
8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 fresh lemon
Dash Tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire
1 tsp. mayonnaise
Bag of tortilla chips

Clean out avocado. Add lemon juice, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire and mayonnaise. Set aside. On large plate, layer refried beans, sour cream, avocado mixture and salsa. Top with cheese and sliced black olives. Tortilla chips for dipping.

3 December 1987, Chicago (IL) Sun-Times, pg. 10:
The 90 recipes for such down-to-earth dishes as buffalo burgers, pepper-corn muffins, chili-peanut popcorn, walking taco casserole and grilled fajitas. 

22 June 1988, Columbus (OH) Evening Dispatch, pg. F1, col. 1:
The 15 home-style recipes, from Walking Taco dip to Crumb Cake, are easy to prepare.
("Benziger Family Favorites” Recipe Book, Glen Ellen Winery, Glen Ellen, CA—ed.)

27 March 1991, Chicago (IL) Daily Herald, “Thursday Menus,” section 5, pg. 1, col. 1:
St. Peter Lutheran School, Arlington Heights: Walking taco, Mexi rice, chilled mixed fruit, assorted cookies, milk.

21 August 1996, Richwood (OH) Gazette, pg. 1, col. 3:
Fair Board members said to be on the lookout for the “walking taco” representing a new addition to the normal food fare.
(Richwood Independent Fair—ed.)

20 August 1997, Elyria (OH) Chronicle Telegram, pg. C8, col. 1:
Feel like something from the southwest? How about walking tacos—sort of like nachos with meat.
(At Lorain County Fair—ed.)

Google Groups: alt.callahans
Newsgroups: alt.callahans
From: Geillis
Date: 1997/10/16
Subject: Re: Comfort/Nostalgia Foods (was Re: Smart Women )

CJB wrote:
> :->>
> :->> > Frito Pies!!!!!
> :->>
> :->> I may regret this in a later life, but…
> :->> what is a Frito Pie?
> :->
> :->Fair food! Yum! Take a little bag of Fritos, slit it down the side,
> add
> :->chili w/beans, chopped onions, and grated cheddar, eat with a
> plastic
> :->spoon.
> :->
> add a little sour cream, guacamole and salsa and you have a Walking
> Taco. Yummie!!!

30 May 2000, Chicago (IL) Daily Herald, “Making concessions at the concession stand” by Deb Di Sandro, section 3, pg. 3, col. 6:
Susie took the cover off the crock pot. “And this is for walking taco.”

“Walking taco,” I laughed.

“No laugh! Best seller.”

All Recipes
recipe reviews for:
Taco in a Bag
“This flavorful taco treat is a perfect snack to enjoy while mobile. Picnics and block parties are perfect venues for Taco in a Bag.”

Reviewed: Mar. 10, 2003
In Iowa we call these Walking Tacos and they can be found at festivals and outdoor events. Fun, easy and good!

Reviewed: Jan. 20, 2004
In Texas, these are called “Frito Pie”...so popular that they serve it on the school menu for lunch. To make it even quicker, use canned chili (with or without beans, your choice) in place of the taco meat, and top with shredded cheddar cheese. Heat and eat! Can’t get much easier than that!

Reviewed: Feb. 4, 2005
This idea originated at and was first served at the 1982 Worlds Fair in Knoxville, TN. It’s called a “Petro” and is still served at Petro restaurants all over the area. I am proud to have eaten one of the first ever served the week the fair opened. You can make them yourself, but as they say, “Ain’t nothin’ like the real thing baby”! Thanks for the memories....

May 2005, Food Management, “Introducing the Walking Taco” by Joanna Lefebvre:
Looking for yet another portable meal idea? Chefs at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, UT serve “walking tacos” to fans on the go. First they break up the chips inside a bag of Doritos.

Then they slit the side of the bag, mix in spicy meat, shredded cheese, lettuce, chopped tomatoes ...

Quiet Life
Oct. 26, 2005
Walkin’, Yes, in deedie, I’m walkin’
Have you ever heard of Walking Tacos?

Last Saturday I had the job of serving Walking Tacos at the tournament concession stand. It was a great job. All I had to do was scoop flavored meat into a snack size bag of Fritos.
(...)
Large bag of Fritos
1 lb. Hamburger Meat (ground beef...drives my husband batty that I call it hamburger meat :o)
1 package taco seasoning
1 small container mild salsa
shredded cheese
shredded lettuce
sour cream

Braise the beef, add the seasoning mix and water, add about 1/4 to 1/3 C. salsa,
Heat through.
Crumble Fritos. Not too small. Not too big.
Put in the bottom of the bowl (about 1/3 cup)
(...)(Comments—ed.)
Oct. 27, 2005 - Petros
Posted by jdoriot1
Cool! Here in TN we call them “Petros”....they were introduced here as “petros” at the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville. I think the theme of the fair then was “Energy Expo”. So “petro” was an appropriate name! We too eat ours in big bowls...not the tiny bags! LOL!!
Jenny
http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/gusdoriot

Slashfood
Super Bowl Snacks: “Walking Taco”
Posted Jan 31st 2006 8:45AM by Stefania Butler

Walking Taco
Note: There is some debate over the origin of the name (thanks, commenters!). Walking Taco is the name of the recipe given to me.

2 cans of refried beans combined with 1 packet of taco seasoning mix
1 tub of guacamole (e.g. the kind where you mix the salsa in, or make your own)
1 pint of sour cream
2 4 oz. cans diced green chiles (or use one can of jalapeños and one can of green chiles if you want it spicy)
2 4 oz. can of sliced black olives (or a combination of green and black olives)
4 green onions thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2/3 pounds of sharp cheddar grated

Divide bean mixture between two plates. Spread guacamole over both plates of beans. Layer remaining ingredients between the two plates. Top both with cheese. Serve cold or at room temp with Fritos Scoops. 

Homesick Texan: Chocolate Frito Pie (January 2007)
Eric said…
I’ve enjoyed reading your site, and being a Texan by proxy (marriage), I have a great appreciation for all things from the state and visit regularly. This post made me think about another use for Fritos, which could take the whole dish a little more lowbrow. Possibly a sweet version of the “walking taco”? The “walking taco” is traditionally a single-serve bag of Fritos, opened, and topped with some chili, cheese and onions and served with a fork. Mexican chocolate instead? Sounds good to me. Thanks!
9:05 AM
(...)
Homesick Texan said…
Eric—Thanks! I’ve never heard Frito pie called a walking taco, but it makes sense to me.
11:29 AM
(...)
Mona said…
Frito pie! I’m from the Midwest, and like one of the other posters noted, we call those “walking tacos” here. I remember in grade school, “walking taco” days were the best days to buy lunch. You got a bag of Fritos and then the lunch ladies set out a whole bunch of different toppings. Some kids would dump the whole thing out into a plate, but I always ate mine in the bag. It was more adventurous that way.
2:10 PM

Chevy SSR Fanatic Forums
04-17-2007, 09:20 PM
Petro’s!!!
I will not visit Knoxville without making a stop at a Petro’s.

Petro’s started at the 1982 Knoxville World’s Fair. They took a bag of Fritos, turned it on it’s side, cut the bag open and then added chili and all the fixings. Now they are in the malls and even some free standing restaurants. It’s one of my favorites and we replicate it about once a month here at home.

(Trademark)
Word Mark PETRO’S
Goods and Services IC 042. US 100. G & S: Providing Fast Food Services, Featuring a Bag Containing Corn Chips, Chili and Assorted Toppings Such as Sour Cream, Tomato, Green Onion and/or Cheese. FIRST USE: 19820419. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19820419
Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Serial Number 73370115
Filing Date June 17, 1982
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Published for Opposition October 4, 1983
Registration Number 1262715
Registration Date December 27, 1983
Owner (REGISTRANT) Petro’s, Inc. CORPORATION WASHINGTON 1813 S. Rainer Pl. Kennewick WASHINGTON 99336
(LAST LISTED OWNER) SCANDINAVIA SHOP & MORE, INC. CORPORATION TENNESSEE EAST 1040 DESMET SPOKANE WASHINGTON 99202
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Attorney of Record ROBERT E. PITTS
Type of Mark SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text SECT 15. SECT 8 (6-YR). SECTION 8(10-YR) 20040211.
Renewal 1ST RENEWAL 20040211
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (11) Comments • Wednesday, November 28, 2007 • Permalink


gulp My eye’s have been opened to the way’s of the “Walking Taco”. In California I took a brief poll of those in our office and we’d all never heard of this phenomenon. Specifically, I assumed this was a mid-western thing that hadn’t made its way to California. Turns out I was right… I’ll start the trend here! Thank! ~Jeff

Posted by Jeff S  on  05/16  at  01:04 PM

The Texas dish had a long history, of course just in United States. Looks good, and I will try it some day. Last time I went to Texas, I took a meal in the restaurant “Yao”, the owner is Yao Ming, who served in one NBA team and is the top player right now.

Posted by Totekit  on  09/28  at  02:35 AM

Frito pies were invented way back when Fritos were invented. You can call them walking tacos or Petros or whatever, but they were in existence long before 1982. Some say invented in santa fe in the ‘60s but my parents said they were around in Texas long before that...If you research Frito pies you get more history than Petros or Walking Tacos....

Posted by zeno  on  01/18  at  03:04 AM

Jeff, I grew up outside of Fresno, California and these were on our lunch menu back in the 1980’s!  They were called “Frito Boats”.

Posted by ChristyC  on  05/26  at  05:56 PM

Sounds like a good idea to me. The only thing I would worry about is if its too messy

Posted by facebook layouts  on  07/12  at  03:11 AM

Taco-in-a-bag was a yummy county fair treat for me growing up in Minnesota.  It’s also common at concession stands for high school sporting events and other youth fundraising efforts.  Around here crushed Doritos are favored over Fritos, and taco meat is used instead of chili. 

Minnesota style--it is usually made with a partially crushed snack size bag of Nacho flavored Doritos, topped with ground beef taco filling (seasoned, like the stuff taco bell serves), lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese, hot sauce, and whatever other taco fixings…

Posted by mandi  on  08/30  at  09:49 PM

My eye’s have been opened to the way’s of the “Walking Taco”. In California I took a brief poll of those in our office and we’d all never heard of this phenomenon. Specifically, I assumed this was a mid-western thing that hadn’t made its way to California. Turns out I was right… I’ll start the trend here! Thank! ~Jeff

Posted by Jon Rickspan  on  10/12  at  12:43 AM

I duno if my mum would let me make these lol, but they sound amazing!

Posted by Free Windows 7 Themes  on  12/31  at  05:51 PM

mmmm, I actually love Tacos lol, too bad my mom won’t let me eat them lmao

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Posted by David  on  12/31  at  05:52 PM

Great write up I love tacos!

Posted by jersey shore episodes  on  01/04  at  05:51 PM

I duno if my dad would let me make these lol, but they sound breathtakingly awesomesmile

Posted by binnen 10 minuten  on  08/30  at  08:31 AM

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