Walking Tacos | May 17, 2023

My friend, Lori, is in treatment for breast cancer; and her close girlfriends hosted a fundraiser to help offset her expenses and surround her with love.  As I’ve noted before, North Dakotans aren’t big on overt displays of affection, and so events like fundraisers are popular around here because, as my mother says, “North Dakotans would rather starve than spend $10 on eggs for themselves, but will drop $50 on six cupcakes to show someone they care.”

This particular fundraiser took the (cup)cake because the organizing ladies managed to solicit a bonkers number (that’s the official count) of silent auction and raffle items from area businesses.  In addition to the auction and raffle, Lori’s friends sold 50/50 tickets, made available Miss North Dakota to take pictures with attendees in exchange for free-will donations, and offered up an extensive table filled with food, also available for a non-specific monetary amount.  If you’ve ever been to North Dakota I don’t need to tell you that the most popular item was the Walking Tacos; the ladies had to stop an hour into the event and stuff Lori’s son’s backpack with Walking Taco $20 bills to make room for more.

For those of you who have never had the delicious fortune of consuming a Walking Taco – otherwise known as Taco in a Bag – allow me to give you a small taste of its majesty.

A Walking Taco starts with an individual bag of chips.  When I was younger, those chips were Fritos; now that we have developed as a society and invented things like THE INTERNET and BUMPITS, Walking Tacos can also be made with Doritos.

“What about tortilla chips?”  You may be thinking.  Walking Tacos are never made with tortilla chips for reasons I don’t have time to explain.

Each individual bag of Doritos/Fritos/Not Tortillas is smushed by hand until the chips are crunched but not crumbled; then the bag is turned on its side, sliced the long way, and opened into a little pouch.  That pouch is filled with taco meat (always ground beef), shredded cheddar, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, and, if you’re feeling spicy, sliced jalapenos.  The ingredients are then mixed together – held in place by the handy-dandy walls of the chip bag – and eaten with a fork.

It’s called a Walking Taco because, unlike a regular taco, it comes with a wrap-like object to allow a person to enjoy it on the go. 

Everyone loves Walking Tacos.  Everyone.  What’s not to like?  Salt?  Portability?  Walking Tacos are so universally beloved that they are served around here as a school lunch.  Even my EIGHT-year-old (birthday was Monday!), a self-proclaimed “vegetarian” who only consumes chicken nuggets, will eat Walking Tacos.

The best thing about Walking Tacos is that you can customize its ingredients to your fancy and no one will know you have a disgusting palate.  I, for example, like to cover my Walking Tacos in ranch dressing, just as one would at a taqueria in Oaxaca.  Eight picks out the chips and then pretends to be full until someone produces a dish of ice cream.  My husband eschews the chips entirely and encases his Walking Taco in fry bread, which is called an Uffda Taco around here and a Fry Bread Taco in Saskatchewan and isn’t technically a Taco in a Bag but whatever.

For his part, my Eleven-year-old is a Walking Taco purist and wants only chips, taco meat, and cheese.  Chips.  Taco Meat.  Cheese.  He once had a Walking Taco where a single whisper of lettuce had inadvertently drifted into the bag from lettuce fields unknown and IT RUINED HIS WHOLE DAY.  It should be noted that he will eat lettuce if served on a plate.

For Eleven’s eighth birthday, I decided to become the most popular mom in the world and serve Walking Tacos.  I bought a box of individual bags of Doritos, filled two giant bowls with shredded cheddar cheese, and then cooked taco meat according to my tried-and-true taco recipe, which I had made one hundred times prior for one hundred taco dinners that had been devoured by Eleven (then Seven/Eight) all one hundred times.  However, none of those one hundred taco dinners included the word “Walking” since we were sitting at a dinner table.

It turns out the word “Walking” is pretty important to the Walking Taco process because only one kid ate my Walking Tacos and that kid wasn’t my own.  I had made a few back-up cheese pizzas and those went like they were covered in literal and dairy-based gold.  When I asked Eleven/Eight why he didn’t have a Walking Taco, he said it was the wrong taco meat.  It’s now almost four years later and I still don’t know what that means but I certainly learned a lesson that day.

At Lori’s fundraiser, Eleven got himself a Walking Taco.

“Do you want a bite?”  Eleven asked, holding out his fork.

“Does it have ranch on it?”  I joked/not joked.

“No,” he said.  “But guess what?  I put taco sauce on it.”  He nodded knowingly.  I peeked in the bag.  A one-quarter teaspoon taco sauce was drizzled over a single chunk of taco meat.

“Wow,” I said.

“Yep,” he said, proudly.  “I guess I’m growing up.”

“I guess so,” I said.  “Next up, lettuce.”

He shook his head.  “No, lettuce is for old people.”

“Sage words,” I said, as Kyle walked up with a fistful of 50/50 tickets in one hand and a plate of egg rolls in another.

The photo above is of me. Completely unrelated (minus the fact that this is about my own child), I have to tell you something Eight said after school one day.

Eight: [Kid in my class] said he has ADHD, but I don’t believe him because he’s never gone to war.

Me: …

Kyle: …

Eight: …

Kyle: …you’re thinking of PTSD. PTSD is what you get when you go to war. ADHD is different.

Eight: Oh, okay. Then I guess he has ADHD.

Kyle: Sounds good.

Five high school seniors – Jaylen Anderson, McKenna Barnick, Kaylee Kemp, Casia Steinhaus, and Piper Suhr – will graduate from both high school and Lake Region State College in May. (Grand Forks Herald)

Speaking of young graduates, six Bismarck State students are set to graduate from college before graduating high school in a few weeks. (KFYR TV)

Have some extra seeds laying around this spring?  Minot’s Amee Mitchell is looking to propagate a community seed library. (KX Net)

Anamoose students got a taste of a Farm to Table lunch made with area beef and the school’s garden via a farm-to-table program – and fun fact from the article: North Dakota has more cows than people. (KFYR TV)

Speaking of tables, Elgin’s Kirby and JoAnn Schatz have taken to hosting “farmboy breakfasts” for their agrarian neighbors. (Fargo Forum)

Hatton’s Carl Ben Eielson will soon be memorialized in film. (Fargo Forum)

The headline of this article says it all: Williston’s Band Day Parade marches on. (KFYR TV)

Linton’s Dan Carr is serving up his last year of caramel rolls and coffee to graduating seniors. (KFYR TV)

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The Great Scotcheroo Debate of 2022 | April 13, 2022

(If you came to this website because you are looking for a scotcheroo recipe, I’d recommend this one.)

I had a completely different story lined up for this week, but my friend Corey and I had…let’s call it a “situation”…regarding Scotcheroos and Special K Bars – after which he commented, “I bet this is going to end up on your blog,” and after about the third time he said it I thought, “Yup.”

First, however, we need to discuss the products in question.  Both Scotcheroos and Special K Bars are dessert bars.  Both are made by mixing rice cereal, peanut butter, sugar, butter, and corn syrup, and then spreading that mixture out into a pan and topping it with a layer of chocolate and butterscotch.  Also, both are served in Tupperware between sheets of wax paper (if you ever go to a restaurant and see one on the menu, the chef had better come out with his grandma’s favorite Rubbermade or the whole thing is a lie).  The only difference between Scotcheroos and Special K Bars is the type of cereal; Scotcheroos use Rice Krispies, and Special K Bars use, obviously, Special K.

Speaking of similarities, I want to reiterate that one point: Rice Krispies and Special K are rice cereals.  Special K has 117 calories per serving; Rice Krispies has 126.  Rice Krispies is the #13 most popular cereal in America; Special K is #12.  The major distinguishing feature between the two is the shape: Rice Krispies looks like puffy rice; Special K is puffy flakes.  My guess is that Special K Bars were invented after some mom went to make Scotcheroos and took one look at the empty box of Rice Krispies and the full box of Special K and figured, “Meh, close enough.”

Corey and I attended our ten-year-old sons’ hockey tournament (Just in case you missed that apostrophe, I want to clarify that Corey has a son, and I have a son, and those two completely individual children play on the same hockey team.  I don’t want this story to turn into some weird secret dad thing) this past weekend in Hudson, WI.  On Friday, all of the team’s parents put our completely individual children to bed and then gathered in the hotel breakfast area for a little evening chat.

The breakfast nook at this particular hotel was an acoustical phenomenon, in that the combination of zero soft seating, ample hard countertops, and a pitched ceiling made even the smallest whisper bounce off of every surface and into the ear drums of anyone sitting in the room.  Our team’s parents were sharing the room with another team’s parents, and even though everyone was talking at an appropriate volume, the overall effect was like a race track on No Muffler Day.  As I have the type of excellent hearing that makes my husband say, “You should really go to an audiologist,” I couldn’t understand anything anyone was saying.

At some point, one of the moms went to her room and brought back a Tupperware container with a red lid and sheets of wax paper.  She stood in front of the group and said something that sounded to me like, “My mom made either Scotcheroos or Special K Bars if you want one,” and then passed around the Tupperware.

A few years ago, I attended a presentation on nutrition at which my major takeaway was that people over the age of 35 shouldn’t eat past 8:30pm.  The time was 10:15pm when I was handed that Tupperware, and so I felt the best course of action was to just shove the whole bar in my mouth – think Will Ferrell in the movie Elf when he eats the cotton ball – so that my 42-year-old body didn’t know what was happening.  As I maowed down the peanut buttery-chocolately-butterscotchy goodness, a tiny part of my brain thought, “Yum, Rice Krispies.”

Corey was the last person in our group to get the bars.  Despite the fact that I couldn’t comprehend anything he had said prior, the moment he opened his mouth I could hear him clear as a bell.  He said, “Scotcheroos or Special K?”, popped the lid, looked at the contents, said, “Special K,” and then closed it without taking one and handed it back to the owner (who left to return the container to her room).  This was what happened next:

ME: Those were Scotcheroos.

COREY: They were Special K.

ME: They were Scotcheroos.

COREY: They were Special K.

ME: I ate one.  You didn’t.

COREY: I could tell they were Special K.

ME: You could not. (Note: Scotcheroos and Special K both look like peanut butter bars with chocolate on top.)

COREY: I could.

ME, TURNING TO ANOTHER DAD: Were those Scotcheroos or Special K?


ME, TURNING TO A FELLOW MOM: Were those Scotcheroos or Special K?


It was at this point that I realized that they might have been Special K Bars.  I mean, the major taste/consistency in both of those bars is peanut butter, and rice cereal is rice cereal.  This became even more apparent when the second dad, who had clearly been let off the hook, felt compelled to jump back in.

DAD 2: Why don’t you ask Kyle?

This is Man Code for, “Your husband is the only person brave enough to tell you you’re wrong.”  It was a safe strategy on his part; except,

ME: Kyle doesn’t know.

This was the truth, as Kyle was born and raised in Canada.  Canadians have their own bars – like Nanaimos, which are made with layered chocolate and custard and cake – and don’t need to bother with variations of Rice Krispie treats (in fact, Kyle has told me he didn’t have a chocolate-topped Rice Krispie bar until he came to the U.S.).  Also, up until 2014, Canadian Special K cereal was shaped like Rice Krispies.  So, like I said, Kyle wouldn’t know.

COREY: They were Special K.

ME: They were Scotcheroos.

At this point, the Tupperware owner came back, and I asked her, “Were those Special K Bars or Scotcheroos?”


“Oh, those were Special K.”

That’s the end of the story.  Dad 2 said I should have prepped my witness.  Kyle continued to not have any knowledge of the situation.  I apologized to Corey and he said, “You’re going to tell all of your readers that ‘COREY IS THE WORST’” – which I would never do because if you can’t fight over Scotcheroos and Special K bars and come out at the end as pals then there’s nothing left in humanity.  Plus, I am still really impressed that he could not only identify that they were Special K just on sight, but could also taste enough of a difference between the two cereals to not like one type of bar.

The photo above is of me with either a Scotcheroo or a Special K.  Only Corey and I will know for sure.

This week’s news has a bee camp, a powwow, and Jon Batiste.  Read on.

Dickinson’s Rachel Thompson will be both the only female (she’s 16 years old, by the way) and the only North Dakotan at the SkillsUSA Championships, which is a national high school firefighting competition. (Dickinson Press)

North Dakota’s volunteer Pollinator Habitat Ambassador Team has six members, including Williston’s Katherine Troutman – who is looking to put together a bee camp. (Williston Herald)

North Dakota National Guard Specialists Luis Alvarado and Gracin Clem saved five migrants from drowning in their attempt to swim the Rio Grande. (KX Net)

After a pandemic hold, UND’s is back with the 50th annual Time Out Wacipi, which included a powwow (and if you’ve never attended a powwow, you should mark your calendar to attend next year because they are amazing). (Grand Forks Herald)

Bismarck photographer, Shane Balkowitsch, was asked to take wet plate photos of Jon Batiste in advance of his big Grammy night. (Dickinson Press)

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