Even though I now live in Springfield, two hundred miles from Kansas City, there are times I’ll still make the midnight drive back to the Northland. My destination: the drive-thru at In-A-Tub, where I can get five deep-fried tacos with mild sauce, a Pepsi and a side of extra cheese to devour in the comfort of my front seat.
If you don’t understand that—well, you’re probably not a Northlander.
Originally known for ice cream served in a giant tub—hence the name—the wood-paneled eatery is now most famous for serving tacos with fluorescent orange-colored powdered cheese sprinkled on top. The tacos are filled with seasoned ground beef, lettuce and mild sauce, deep-fried to a crisp, then topped with the Tub’s famous nuclear orange powdered cheese. These tacos account for about half of In-A-Tub’s sales, according to owner Aaron Beeman. Although no one remembers how the cheese started getting used, it’s a rare commodity after four decades. Beeman has to buy five thousand pounds at a time for a whopping $23,000 due to the cheese’s scarcity.
Whether I order in the drive-thru or set up shop in a cozy formica booth inside the restaurant, I always ask for an extra side of that powdery goodness to take home. It beats making that midnight drive.