Aug 16, 2021

Rico, Nacho and Pepe

Mahoning Drive-In - Lehighton, PA
If there is an unofficial mascot of the Mahoning Drive-In Theater, it would have to be Rico.  He's a little cartoon dude wearing a cartoon shirt who has a giant drop of nacho cheese for a head.  His commercial for Rico's Nachos is frequently shown on the big screen during intermission.  It stars Rico (in the center) and features his friends, Nacho the chip (on the left) and Pepe the shy pepper (on the right).

Here is the commercial.  It originally aired in theaters back in 1980.  They refer to nachos as "a refreshingly new and different snack discovery", and for good reason.  Rico's is actually the company that introduced nachos as a snack food item at concerts, sporting events, movie theaters and convenience stores throughout the United States.  It's hard to imagine a world without nachos, but prior to the 1970's, they really weren't around in the States.

The Rico's website mentions that the Rico, Nacho and Pepe characters were created by animators who worked for Disney, but it doesn't mention which ones.  The little bit of information I was able to uncover in my research was that the commercial was produced by Cinema Concepts Theatre Service Company, an animation studio based in Atlanta.

You'll find Rico and Pepe at the merch tent too:

The little glow-in-the-dark pins on the left and center have been available at the merch tent all year.  We only started going to the Mahoning this Spring, so it's possible that there may have been different styles available in previous seasons.

The pin on the right is Joe Bob Rico.  They only made 100 of them, and they were available to purchase throughout the Joe Bob Jamboree weekend.

The concession building has two pieces of framed art featuring Rico and Pepe.  They were drawn by artist Charles Kivlen.  You can find more of his work on Instagram and Facebook under the name CKSGallery.  But that's not the only Rico's that you'll find in the concession building...

You guessed it!  They serve Rico's Nachos in the concession building with a cup of piping hot cheese to keep you warm when the sun goes down.  They usually have little cups of jalapeno peppers too, so if you want to add a little Pepe to your snack, they've got you and your nachos covered.  

So, if you ever find yourself at the Mahoning Drive-In Theater and wonder why car horns start honking and cheers erupt from the crowd at the sight of a little green cartoon pepper, now you know.