EL PASO, Texas (CBS4) — People seem to have taken notice of a change in the tacos they have been eating for years from an El Paso staple.
The question on everyone’s mind lately has been, “What happened to the Chico’s Tacos cheese?”
CBS4 has received emails asking us to investigate and customers have been taking to social media to express their opinions about the “new cheese.”
Cheese, a simple ingredient has caused a huge upheaval.
“Everyone has noticed it. Everyone will mention it. "You know they changed the cheese?’” Melanie Jabalie said.
Chico’s Tacos has been around for 64 years and is famous for one menu item: rolled tacos.
Crunchy rolled tacos, spiced meat, melted cheese and the secret sauce are all part of the recipe that keeps customers coming back for more.
CBS4 interviewed co-owner Bernie Mora in October and he said part of the success of Chico’s Tacos is attributed to the original recipe his dad created.
Lucia Hernandez tells CBS4 she enjoys the tacos and has been eating them for 30 years.
Luiz Armendariz says he’s been enjoying them since he was a child. “Since I was 8 or 9 years old,” Armendariz said.
And when El Pasoans move, they always crave the flavors of home.
“I’ve got a daughter that lives in Houston. She always wants me to send her some over there and she always wants Chico’s Tacos,” Trini Torres said.
So it was natural that when one key ingredient in the famous recipe changed, customers noticed.
Some didn’t like it.
“I’ve heard it doesn’t melt,” Martha Barragan said.
“It’s traditional cheese like before. I think it’s different and people don’t like it as much. The other cheese was like the welfare cheese,” another customer said.
Others said the change was good.
“It’s perfect," Jose Diaz said. “It’s still the same for me. It tastes better. It’s good.”
But why did El Pasoans take the cheese change so personally? One customer thinks she knows the answer.
“It’s noticeable. I think it’s one of those things that is a big deal because we’ve been so used to it here and it’s such an iconic thing that when anything little changes, it’s a big deal to them personally because it’s such a big thing that is in everyone’s memory,” Jabalie said.
CBS4 went to the man behind the operation to find out where the old Chico’s cheese went. It turns out that customers were right. The recipe had changed but the reason behind it was beyond the restaurant’s control.
Mora did not want to appear on camera but said this:
The product we previously used was discontinued last summer. It was a blend that is no longer available. We tried several samples of a similar item but found them to be inconsistent and vastly different. After countless attempts of many samples and taste tests, we decided to go with a premium Wisconsin cheddar cheese. This returns us to the original taste that launched our restaurant in the '50s and '60'. We are blessed to have so many loyal customers and we only want the best for them. We realize that even a minor change is always questioned, however we have to deal with products and distributors that keep evolving over the decades. Although we appreciate the passion of our customers, we believe that returning to our original product nuance was the proper way to go...
So while some are disappointed that the taste they’ve known for years has been tweaked, most of the customers CBS4 spoke to said it won’t stop them from scarfing down El Paso’s favorite rolled tacos.
“Everyone still goes and buys Chico’s Tacos,” Hernandez said.
“All of my family, all of my kids -- they love Chico’s Tacos,” Armendariz said.