Briar Cliff student goes 'ole!' to free Taco John's food

2014-07-01T23:00:00Z 2015-02-06T19:08:08Z Briar Cliff student goes 'ole!' to free Taco John's foodEarl Horlyk Sioux City Journal

SIOUX CITY | Every time Lexie Henschke ate at Taco John's, she'd make sure to pick up an order of the Tex-Mex chain's Potato Oles.

"I think I'm addicted to 'em," the Briar Cliff University environmental science junior said, while munching on her favorite snack. "I think it's the seasoning that makes them taste so good."

Luckily for Henschke, she will be one of seven Midwest college students who will be receiving free Potato Oles -- crispy, bite-sized pieces of potato -- for an entire year.

In April, the Cheyenne, Wyo.-based chain introduced a social media contest to promote Taco John's Flamin' Hot Cheetos Burrito, visiting 18 colleges and universities across seven states.

"We wanted to get people talking about (the burrito), and we knew college campuses would be a good place to start," explained Renee Middleton, Taco John's vice president for marketing. She said students were given free bags of Flamin' Hot Cheetos, half-price coupons and an opportunity to enter a "Golden Ticket" contest.

For a chance to win Potato Oles for an entire year, students were encouraged to create a slogan for the popular side dish, while using the hashtag #TacoJohns when posting it on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and Twitter.

In June, Henschke was informed that the slogan she tweeted  -- "I like my Potato Oles, like my America ... Free!" -- was one of the seven winning "Golden Ticket" slogans.

"I can't take complete credit for the slogan because it was a collaboration between me and my roommates," Henschke, a  Pender, Neb., native admitted. "It doesn't matter since we all love Potato Oles a lot."

The other "Golden Ticket" winners were Abby Pierce (the University of South Dakota); Josh Ray (the University of Kansas); Jared Karlson (Creighton University); San Chandra (Augustana College); Mikala Hunty (the University of Nebraska); and Eric Woodraska (the University of Iowa).

Winners who display their "Golden Ticket" will be able to receive one free serving of Potato Oles per day for an entire year.

"Taco John's 'Golden Ticket' reminds me of the one in 'Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,'" Henschke noted with a laugh. "Instead of getting all of the candy I want, I'll be getting all the Potato Oles I want."

That's also true for many of Henschke's friends.

"Even one small serving of Potato Oles is pretty filling," she said. "That's why it's fun to share."

A guard on the Briar Cliff Charger's women's basketball team, Henschke doesn't worry about the calories associated with fast food since she leads an active lifestyle.

Yet as a full-time college student, she said money is always tight.

"When I eat out, I want something that's fast and cheap," Henschke said. "I come to Taco John's at least a few times a week."

After winning her "Golden Ticket," Henschke said she's sure Taco John's 1721 Hamilton Blvd. location will become an even more regular destination.

"I'm already a huge fan of their tacos and I've got to get my Potato Oles," she said. "Everything tastes better when it's free." 

Copyright 2015 Sioux City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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