He has a full head of lettuce, a firm yet soft exterior, deep-set eyes, and emerald-green legs that just won’t quit. And though the 26-year-old San Antonio native certainly has many notable peers—like Chico, of the El Paso Chihuahuas; Swatson and Moe, of the Sugar Land Skeeters; and the flying pig Scout, of the Grand Prairie AirHogs—there’s no minor league baseball mascot that inspires quite the same level of devotion. This has to do as much with his homegrown roots (he was conceived by Henry’s Puffy Tacos, a beloved city institution, in 1989) as it does his rivalry with 15-year-old Ballapeño and his mentorship of smaller taco mascot Henry Jr. Most of all, though, it is due to an exacting exercise regimen: every San Antonio Missions home game requires him to run the Taco Chase against a young fan during the seventh inning.
Dan Solomon: What about you is so appealing?
Henry the Puffy Taco: I inspire fans to say, “Let’s have fun,” and, “It’s okay to look and feel silly.” When the crowd gets excited, I feel cheesy inside. Their chants, the excitement of baseball—it all makes me a little hot and spicy.
DS: What’s your best memory?
HPT: My only victory in the Taco Chase. Took me roughly 1,800 career attempts. It was 1992, and the kid’s name was Randy Neuenfeldt. He was eleven. Eighteen years later, we staged a rematch—and Randy defeated me.
DS: Tell us about your rivalry with Ballapeño.
HPT: Ballapeño is jealous of me and my taco-ness. It’s a love-hate relationship.
DS: Any life goals?
HPT: I’m considering reality TV, to show all the sides of me. You can catch me sometime soon on the Travel Channel’s Food Paradise and learn how I came to be.
DS: Do you ever lose your puffiness?
HPT: Never. Even after running around the bases, I can’t seem to shred my extra cheese. It’s my body armor of love.