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Taco Time commercial shines spotlight on Gig Harbor

Posted on January 31st, 2023 By:

As part of its 60th anniversary celebration in 2022, Taco Time Northwest produced half a dozen of TV spots with distinctly Northwest vibes.

Each commercial depicts a little slice-of-life moment in the daily activities of a typical Pacific Northwesterner, and shows how Taco Time fits in.

Including, as many sharp-eyed viewers no doubt noticed, Gig Harbor.

The commercials emphasized Taco Time’s deep roots in the Northwest, according to Rachael Carlson, partner and executive creative director at World Famous, Inc., the Seattle-based company that came up with the concept and created the commercials.

“Taco Time has been locally owned in the Northwest for three generations – since 1962,” Carlson said in a phone conversation. “All the ingredients in their food are locally sourced as much as possible, the packaging is all compostable and they just have a great love for the Northwest.”

Hence the tag line on the ads – “Official Sponsor of the Pacific Northwest.”

Gig Harbor in the spotlight

One of the commercials was filmed in Gig Harbor and features a sailboat named “Diosa” (“goddess” in Spanish.)

The boat is owned by lifelong Gig Harbor resident Mark Hoppen. The spot was shot in the harbor at the dock belonging to Hoppen’s brother, Guy.

In the commercial, a grandfather figure works on the boat while a young boy enjoys a Taco Time snack on the deck. The actor says that he’s been working on “the same damn boat” since 1962 (the year Taco Time was founded).

It’s commercial-art-imitating-life, Mark Hoppen said. Just like the man in the commercial, he’s been working on Diosa – the same damn boat – ever since it was launched in 1963.

“But I don’t let tater tots roll around on the cabin top and deck – except for special occasions,” he said.

The Diosa and the Pirouette in Gig Harbor.

Local connections

Diosa was designed and mostly built by Mark and Guy’s father, Ed Hoppen, who owned Eddon BoatShop on the Gig Harbor waterfront. The family lived in the brick house next door to the boat shop.

According to Mark Hoppen, Diosa is related to the iconic build-it-yourself Thunderbird sailboats Ed Hoppen designed and sold as building plans.

The first Thunderbird Ed Hoppen built is now in the Harbor History Museum. The second Thunderbird — the Pirouette — was the Hoppen family boat.  The Hoppen boys grew up sailing on the Pirouette and, later, Diosa.

“Diosa is more avant-garde than the Pirouette and the other Thunderbirds,” Mark Hoppen said. “It’s 40 feet overall and was the first big sailboat that can plane. It can go about 20-plus knots.”

Mark and his wife, Marilyn, bought Diosa from his mother after his dad died.

After the boys grew up and went off to college, both came back home to the harbor.

Mark Hoppen was Gig Harbor’s city administrator for more than a decade. Guy Hoppen is now executive director of Eddon BoatShop, the boat-building facility founded by their father.

A scene from a Taco Time Northwest ad set in Gig Harbor.

Family friends

As for Carlson, both she and her husband grew up in the Puget Sound area. She went to Washington State University and made the drive between Pullman and this side of the mountains many times. “And I always stopped at the Taco Time in North Bend,” she said.

Although Carlson and her husband and their kids now live in West Seattle, they’re often in Gig Harbor because her husband’s family lives here. Her mother-in-law is very active in the Yacht Club’s junior sail program and her father-in-law is on the BoatShop’s board of directors.

The Hoppens and the Carlsons have been friends for years, Mark Hoppen said. Which is how the Diosa got to star in a TV spot.

It’s a small town, after all.