Some call him the Elote Man or Elotero, but his real name is Hijinio Camacho. He can be recognized in the streets by the blue cart that he pushes around or by his signature announcement of presence through a horn sounding similar to a duck. This week, The Bottom Line interviewed him to learn more about this legendary figure’s background and business.
Recently, his popularity has grown within Isla Vista and the University of California, Santa Barbara as more organizations and clubs on campus have hired him to aid them with their fundraisers. He primarily sells elotes, which are boiled ears of corn on a stick, and prepares them by spreading mayonnaise on the whole ear of corn and sprinkling cheese and chili powder on top of it. He sells this alongside other traditional Mexican street vendor treats, such as mangoes on a stick with lemon and chili powder, tostilocos, raspados and duritos/chicharrones.
Although his popularity has just recently increased, Camacho, a resident of Oxnard, California, has sold to and been involved in the Isla Vista community for the past twenty years. His first years in Isla Vista, however, were not as successful, so he only sold on specific streets and areas.
Not many Hispanic/Latinx residents/students knew or were interested in his traditionally Mexican based products. However, the population has grown: UCSB was recently named a Hispanic-Serving Institution, meaning that it has a minimum of 25 percent enrolled Hispanic students. This accomplishment for UCSB has also been one for Camacho, as he has seen his patrons, and in turn his business, grow.
Furthermore, his continuing involvement with clubs and organizations on campus have also benefited him financially for they provide him with a set place to operate and sell. Organizations such as Alpha Phi Omega, Hermanas Unidas, and Lambda Theta Alpha, to name a few, have hired Camacho for their fundraisers.
Camacho lives with family members from Puebla, Mexico, who all have similar street vendor carts throughout California. In fact, he makes the drive up to Santa Barbara county with his wife all seven days of the week. She sells in Santa Barbara while he remains here in Isla Vista.
Their day usually begins at 3 a.m. in order for them to drive to Los Angeles to purchase fresh produce from the markets there. Because this is their only source of income, they rarely have days off and if they do, it’s on Tuesdays to work on chores around their home.
For Isla Vista and its residents, specifically the Hispanic ones, Camacho’s food and treats bring mouth-watering joy and happiness. All twenty years have been filled with positivity and he has not received any complaints from any customers regarding his food.
Camacho described Isla Vista as the best town in all of California, seeing it as a hub for students in the process of preparing themselves for their careers. He holds great respect for the community and loves aiding the organizations that he has worked alongside. If you ever see Camacho around Isla Vista, or within UCSB, make sure to grab an elote. You won’t be disappointed.