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Great Inventions in Foodservice – Taco Holders

By Lee Davis, CFSP

 

Maybe it’s just my love for Mexican food, but if you asked me to list the great foodservice inventions of the last fifteen years, I would have to include the taco holder in my list. Back in the day, taco shells just wouldn’t stand up while they were being filled, or they would crack and break because they weren’t supported on the outside. Tacos tipped over on the way to the table, and were difficult to pick up once they’d spilled their contents all over the plate.

 

The amazing thing is that taco holders are such a simple concept, and yet they are a fairly recent addition to foodservice and tabletop catalogs. One historian credits their invention to various New York chefs, in the early part of the 21st century, who wanted to include tacos as part of their upscale international fusion cuisine, but needed to improve on the presentation in order to impress their clientele.

 

I remember the first one I saw. I thought “that’s just a piece of metal bent zig-zag fashion. Nobody will buy that.” And yet they did. And many variations came to the market. Today, you needn’t look far to find the right taco holder to match your décor and menu. Here are a few that I like.

American Metalcraft: Model TSH3 – Simple and economical, with an understated design, it puts the focus on the food. The original zig-zag pattern hides a bonus feature. It allows you to serve three tacos when upright, or two when flipped over.

Cal-Mil: Model 3476-3 – Another understated and inexpensive design made of stainless steel wire. Just one of Cal-Mil’s several offerings.

G.E.T.: Model WGuitar-01 – One of several variations from G.E.T., this one in the shape of a guitar. It features a holder for salsa or condiments too.

Gessner: Model 0350 – Not all taco holders are metal. Gessner offers simple and economical design in polystyrene. This one comes black, white, or clear.

International Tableware: Model TACO-14-Y – This festive taco plate is made of vitrified ceramic and comes in yellow, red, white or blue. It’s more than just a holder, it is the plate: with room for side dishers.

Tablecraft: Model TRSP34 – This variation is one of many offered by Tablecraft, and ads some contemporary design features to the original zig-zag pattern. The holes in the sides may also help hot tacos shells vent and stay crispier.

Winco: Models TCHS12 through 45. Yet another version of the original zig-zag design in several sizes.

While most of the models shown above could certainly be placed on a platter and presented at the table, all but the fanciest are perfectly functional in the prep area where they can be used to assemble tacos (or hot dogs) destined for take-out. Chefs also use the metal zig-zag taco holders in the oven to bake soft tortillas into properly shaped taco shells. Some manufacturers make specialty oven-ready models with non stick surfaces just for that application.