What a time to be alive, what an era of innovation: The Cronut, the cruffin, the cragel, ramen burgers, sushi doughnuts, chicken waffles (yes, without the “and”), the turducken, the KFC Double Down. Take a food and turn it into another food, and viral fame is sure to follow.
The most surprising thing about tacro — a croissant-taco hybrid — isn’t that it exists. It’s that it didn’t take off until now, five full years after the Cronut compelled people to wait in two-hour lines, and kicked off a phase of collective madness for crossover foods. Tacos and croissants are, separately, the building blocks of this trend: People have made tacos out of Doritos and spaghetti and sushi, and subbed in fried chicken for the tortilla. But despite all the other things we’ve croissantified over the years — doughnuts, muffins, bagels — the tacro is having its moment at last.
First of all: “The name just works,” said Arnaud Goethals, who founded the San Francisco bakery Vive la Tarte, which has been featured in publications all around the world for its tacro. He’s not the first person to invent a taco-croissant hybrid — Taco Bell actually had one on its menu briefly in 2015. But he seems to be the first to call it the tacro, and that branding has made all the difference.
The other reason is that, unlike Taco Bell’s rendition, this taco-croissant actually looks good. Goethals is Belgian and well-versed in the importance of l’arte des croissants, and his appear light and flaky and traditional in method, if not appearance.
“Before innovating, it’s important to respect the traditional croissant and know what makes the traditional croissant exquisite,” he said, citing the butter, the flour, the ambient temperature, the lamination. While he knows it would probably ruffle feathers in his homeland, “That’s one of the things that I love about working in the States. It’s more about ‘Why not?’ than ‘Why are you doing this?’ ”
The tacro was a collaboration between his staff, who are Californian, Central American and European. At Vive la Tarte, they’re filled with slow-roasted pork and pineapple — or, for vegetarians, jackfruit, which is growing in popularity for its ability to stand in for certain meats. Though hybrid foods have a good track record for making a splash on Instagram, he had no idea it would go viral: He recalls someone on his team saying, “I’m not sure it’s going to work.”
But now that the tacro has made headlines — including in French-language media — they’re hard to get: only offered at the bakery’s Ferry Building location in San Francisco, the 100 or so they make a day usually sell out. You could try to replicate one at home with the help of some puff pastry, as the website Real Simple did. Or you could just wait — because, as with all viral food trends, imitation tacros are sure to pop up soon in other cities.
“If you go viral with a product, people will want to copy it,” Goethals said. “It took us a lot of time to make the product perfect. I think if people try to copy it, it’s going to take them a lot of time, too.” But he’s “pretty chill about it,” except in one regard. Soon, imitators won’t be able to call it a tacro, at least commercially.
“The name, itself, is in the process of being trademarked,” Goethals said. It is a really good name, after all.