"Walking Taco" (Taco-in-a-Bag; Frito Pie; Petro's from Knoxville, TN)

Barry Popik bapopik at GMAIL.COM
Thu Nov 29 05:14:11 UTC 2007

WALKING TACO--10,600 Google hits
WALKING TACOS--910 Google hits
TACO-IN-A-BAG--549 Google hits
"Frito Pie" is not in the Dictionary of American Regional English.
"Walking Taco" is a Midwest variation of the Texas "Frito Pie."
"Walking Taco" has a decent number of Google hits and should
definitely be in the next volume of DARE; maybe "Frito Pie" will be
added when old DARE volumes are revised. Just a suggestion for DARE. I
don't care either way, I don't get paid anything.
Supposedly, the whole "portable frito pie" thing started with
"Petro's" at the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee. Jon
Lighter (Univ. of Tennessee-based editor of the Historical Dictionary
of American Slang) is in Knoxville, as is ADS-Ler Bethany Dumas.
Anything for Knoxville!
Robb Walsh's "The Tex-Mex Cookbook" has "Frito Pie" (New Mexico also
claims this dish; I wrote about it last year), but no discussion of
the "Walking Taco." The blog "Homesick Texan" (below) was also
unfamiliar with "Walking Taco."
We had a busload of school children recently at the Texas/Southwest
Food Museum, and they all loved the Frito-Lay exhibit and the Frito
Pie/Walking Taco/Taco-in-a-Bag. Just what a food museum should be all
about...Remind me to kill myself.
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(R)
Each made-to-order Petro(R) is made with Fritos(R) 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

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)
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!!

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
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.

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
Pl. Kennewick WASHINGTON 99336
Attorney of Record ROBERT E. PITTS
Affidavit Text SECT 15. SECT 8 (6-YR). SECTION 8(10-YR) 20040211.
Renewal 1ST RENEWAL 20040211
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list