The day the french fries went away

Young people leave Marshalltown.

This should not come as a shock to no one that either is, was, or knows a young person; around the end of August the town loses a whole crop of 18-25 year-olds to college, the military, or simply towns that aren’t this one.

Some of them settle in wherever they landed, some of them make their way back; but like any local bartender at Thanksgiving will tell you: they all come back to visit.

And what is on the list for the overwhelming majority of Marshalltown ex-patriots returning for holidays, family visits or extended bouts of unemployment?

Blowing the doors of a local public house with their own brand of pulse pounding rock and roll?

Rare. Very rare. Probably just the one person.

As far as the rest of them go first and foremost on the list is getting some of that classic Marshalltown comfort food.

Most ex-pats I?know have a three to four point list to check off every time they find themselves back in the central time zone. In no particular order they are: Maid-Rite, Zeno’s, Sub-City and Taco John’s.

Just try going to these places any time around Thanksgiving/Christmas. Try. And bring a book because it’s going to be a long wait.

Well consider this an early warning for all those hoping to enjoy some favorite foods on their next trip back to town: Taco John’s is going to stop serving french fries.

Yeah, you read that right.

Taco John’s, TJ’s if you will, is going to stop selling local favorites like french fries, soft serve, apple grandes and a whole smattering of breakfast options I am never awake early enough to try.

Why, exactly?

According to the most reliable of sources (Facebook, Twitter) the food we were all still eating as we came in late from lunch break during high school is going to disappear some time in early September.

Now, as always during times of extreme crisis, there are a number of rumors flying around about just why these beloved menu items are disappearing.

The most popular one appears to be corporate over reach. According to this rumor the head office of Taco John’s, which I can only assume is run by a man ironically named John Tacos, has decreed that all TJ’s menus are to be standardized across the nation, thereby eliminating our beloved fries.

The least popular rumor is that this is yet another macro scale corporate decision, conceived and executed for the sole purpose of taking away one of the small pleasures in my life in an attempt to drive me further into the clutches of insanity.

Whether the cause is top-down corporate restructuring or a massive plot to drive me crazy via fry-deprivation is irrelevant; the real crime being committed here is the loss of bragging rights.

What do people from Marshalltown tell others about our fair city? “Oh, we’ve got a really great statue of the town founder on the courthouse lawn.”

No! That has never happened! The conversation that has and continues to happen is “Oh, you guys have a Taco John’s in your town? Well, I bet it’s not as good as OUR Taco John’s. Have you tried getting the Ole’ seasoning on the french fries? It’s delicious! Your Taco John’s doesn’t do that! Your Taco John’s ain’t worth nothin’!”

Now, I don’t approve of the atrocious grammar around the end but that is a verbatim transcription of a conversation I’m currently having with myself, and I’m a stickler for accuracy.

What’s left after our Taco John’s becomes just like everyone else’s Taco John’s? Are we supposed to brag about having the only Perkins on the face of Earth that isn’t open 24 hours a day?

We’ve got young people leaving for college/the military by the dozens as we speak; are we really going to send them out into the world deprived of these essential bragging rights?

This is a call to action, dear readers! Call your congressman, call your senator, call customer service! Tell them to keep their ham handed approach to oversight away from our Taco John’s! I would call, but I’m going to be too busy waiting in line for the last of the fries.

Copy Editor Wes Burns is a Sunday columnist. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don’t necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Wes Burns at 641-753-6611 or