Tag Archives: Taco Bell

Food News: Taco Bell Meat Only 35% Meat; Taco Bell Patrons Neither Shocked Nor Concerned

Oh my god there's no way this can be happening I mean just look that's 100% USDA ground beef c'mon guys

I first heard about this yesterday from a Tweet made by Fast Food Maven. I thought it nothing more than funny, but apparently it’s become kind of a Big Deal in the media, so I figured I should bring it up here.

Some lawyers at Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles (their business cards must have very small font) are filing a lawsuit against Taco Bell, alleging that Taco Bell uses binders and fillers in its meat and that the “meat” itself actually contains only 35% real meat. Taco Bell, of course, is refuting this. Their website lists the ingredients of their seasoned beef as “ Beef, Water, Seasoning [Isolated Oat Product, Salt, Chili Pepper, Onion Powder, Tomato Powder, Oats (Wheat), Soy Lecithin, Sugar, Spices, Maltodextrin, Soybean Oil (Anti-dusting Agent), Garlic Powder, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Citric Acid, Caramel Color, Cocoa Powder (Processed With Alkali), Silicon Dioxide, Natural Flavors, Yeast, Modified Corn Starch, Natural Smoke Flavor], Salt, Sodium Phosphates. CONTAINS SOYBEAN, WHEAT.”

Hm.  Can’t imagine that anyone would think there’s fillers in there!

Let’s be honest, Taco Bell’s regular patrons are neither surprised or alarmed by these allegations. As a Taco Bell regular myself, I’ve known any time Taco Bell used the word meat in text that it should have quotation marks around it. In fact, I think all this talk about Taco Bell is making more people crave a fourthmeal rather than be outraged. I could go for a Meximelt, myself.

Update: Taco Bell is handling this in just the right way – with a sense of humor.  They recently Tweeted a link to Stephen Colbert’s take on the situation.  I particularly enjoy the phrase “beef-adjacent”.

On January 27, Taco Bell posted a YouTube video featuring Taco Bell’s President, breaking down exactly what goes into their seasoned ground beef. Furthermore, they sent out what I guess you could call a press release with the title, “Thank you for suing us.”

Taco Bell knows their customers.  They know, just like I do, that Taco Bell patrons don’t really give a shit.  They’re turning this lawsuit into a laughingstock, and I’m laughing right along with them. Way to go, Taco Bell!

Taco Bell Beefy Crunch Burrito

So is this going to be a thing now? Fritos? Are Fritos the next pomegranate? Sonic has had their Frito Chili Cheese Wrap on the menu for as long as I have been going there, but then they upped the ante with their Sonic Tex Mex Footlong Quarter Pound Coney. Now Taco Bell has hopped on the Frito bandwagon with their new Beefy Crunch Burrito. I’ll let Taco Bell explain:

“Layers of seasoned ground beef, rice, warm nacho cheese sauce, reduced fat sour cream and Flamin’ Hot Fritos wrapped in a warm, flour tortilla.”

Classic Taco Bell move. The first four ingredients in this description should sound familiar because they’re in every other Taco Bell menu item, ever. But hey – Fritos! Flamin’ Hot Fritos, no less. Frito-Lay has Flaminized many of their products. I am quite fond of Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Limon, but they stain your fingers for a whole day, announcing your snacking habits to the world. I also once powered through a whole bag of Flamin’ Hot Funyuns, but in my defense, I was drunk.

So now we’ve got snack food inside fast food. I’m reminded once again of Sonic and their Ched R Pepper SuperSONIC Cheeseburger, which stuck jalapeño poppers inside a burger. I like where this is going. Funyuns replacing real onions on a McDonald’s burger. Jack in the Box Ultimate Jack Link Beef Jerky Grilled Cheese Sandwich. KFC chicken breaded with crushed Doritos Blazin’ Buffalo and Ranch. Burger King’s new Ranch Corn Nuts Bacon Cheeseburger.

Oh yeah. This is going all the right places.

Flamin’ Hot Fritos may make the Crunchy Beef Burrito Taco Bell’s most caliente menu item, which is sad because they have a whole Volcano menu devoted to items that are supposed to make your brain blow out the back of your head with the heat but instead just make you wish you had a can of Spicy Hot V8 on hand. It’s no good when you want a beverage to make your mouth burn instead of cool it off.

With pretty much nowhere to go but up in my mind, let’s see what this bitch can deliver.

Okay, so here’s the rub: The Beefy Crunch Burrito has the word “crunch” in its name. But anyone with half a brain would know that Fritos don’t stand a chance when they’re smothered in nacho cheese sauce and reduced fat sour cream.  “Kelley,” you could scream to me in the comments section, “you can’t fault the Fritos for being soggy when you drive all the way home to eat! Eat inside the Taco Bell! You’re being unfair to the Beefy Crunch Burrito when you complain that the Fritos were soggy!”

Yes, the Fritos were soggy. No, I didn’t eat it inside the restaurant. I drove through the drive-thru and took my food home, to eat and photograph in the privacy of my own domicile. Millions of people do that, every day. That’s why we eat fast food. That’s why the drive-thru was invented. Well, that and for people who eat in their cars, but that’s something I just don’t do. Eyes on the road! Hands at ten and two! Didn’t you learn anything in driver’s ed?

I believe fast food companies should prepare for these kinds of situations, and design menu items appropriately. What I’m trying to say here is, don’t blame me, blame Taco Bell. Don’t put something that’s supposed to be crunchy in with a bunch of stuff that will turn it to mush in ten seconds. It’s just going to end poorly.

Rant aside, there was another problem with the Beefy Crunch Burrito. I’ll accept snack foods in my fast food – I just raved about the possibilities a few paragraphs ago – but I’m not going to give them a free pass when it doesn’t work out. And the Beefy Crunch Burrito didn’t. All the regular players got along fine: seasoned beef shook hands with nacho cheese, sour cream said hi to the rice, and warm flour tortilla invited everyone in for a group hug. Then Flamin’ Hot Fritos invited itself over and everyone got uncomfortable. The pronounced and very recognizable corn chip flavor just seemed out of place with everything else, jarring my taste buds and overwhelming all the other flavors. The best word to describe it would be “discordant”. Corn chips just didn’t belong. It felt like I was eating a corn chip burrito with some other stuff thrown in.

As for the Flamin’ Hot portion, I’ll admit, they did give off a little heat. I think it was diluted from the nacho cheese and sour cream, because it wasn’t quite as hot as the Flamin Hot chips themselves. I wished it had been super hot; then maybe it would have drowned out the corn chip taste a bit.

Beefy Crunch Burrito really let me down. It’s not often that I outright dislike a Taco Bell product, but here we are. Points are docked for soggy Fritos, but that’s a design flaw. The real problem is that overpowering corn chip taste that drowns everything else out and really doesn’t belong. Taco Bell isn’t really marketing it as a “blow your brains out spicy” item, but even so, there was very little heat. The Beefy Crunch Burrito is a mess; that said, I still encourage fast food companies to start stuffing snacks into their menu items. Bring on the crazy!

(Update: I decided to bust this down to a score of 1.5 from 2 since it really wasn’t that close to average.)

  • Score: 1.5 out of 5 lingering hugs by Flamin’ Hot Fritos
  • Price: $0.99
  • Size: 1 burrito
  • Purchased at: Taco Bell
  • Nutritional Quirks: Let’s put it this way: seasoned ground beef, nacho cheese sauce, rice, sour cream, flour tortilla, Flamin’ Hot Fritos.  One of these is not like the other!

Junk Food Freebie: Taco Bell Black Jack Taco

Black Jack DescriptionObviously, Taco Bell read my review of their Black Jack taco, and realized that it was a serious oversight on their part not to associate the black-shelled taco that came out earlier this month with the glorious holiday called Halloween.  In a feeble attempt to hide their shame, they have belatedly tried to connect the two by offering a free Black Jack taco on October 31st, 2009, from 6pm until midnight.  They even added some spoooooky music to their website and tried to make the ad reflect the spirit of the holiday.

Free Black Jack

Taco Bell is obviously trying to trick AND treat us, and I am willing to submit to their obvious ploy in order to get my free taco.  So on Halloween, get out there, get some candy, and then pull into Taco Bell’s drive-thru so all the employees can laugh at your ridiculous costume while they fill your order.  Maybe this should be considered a Junk Food FreeBOO!

No.  No, it shouldn’t.

Taco Bell Black Jack Taco

Black Jack AdThe Black Jack taco is ridiculous. I first heard about it the day before it came out, when Taco Bell started spamming the hell out of my Twitter feed, desperately trying to get me to try it. Well, you’ve won this round, Taco Bell, despite your terrible marketing slogan. “Black is the new black”? Seriously? That’s the best you could come up with? I haven’t seen the commercials yet, but I sure hope they come up with something that doesn’t sound like an Access Hollywood segment teaser.

See, here’s the thing: it is October, and you are releasing a black taco. October. Halloween time. Black taco. Is this setting off any alarms? All you had to do was take another taco shell, dye it orange instead of black, throw some nacho cheese on that motherfucker, and put a ghost on the wrapper. You would have made a friend for life – namely, me. You could have called it the Spooooky Taco Bell Halloween Combo, featuring the Nacho Nightmare and Jack O’Licious tacos. Why do I have to do everything for you, Taco Bell?

Black Jack Description

Instead, they decided to call it the Black Jack taco. Because the shell is black, you see, and there is pepperjack sauce inside. Why is the shell black, you ask? I do not know. Perhaps Taco Bell’s shell manufacturing facility shares warehouse space with a squid de-inking factory, and there was a terrible mix-up, with hilarious results? I’m going to go ahead and call that the most likely scenario. Cue the laugh track.

Black Jack Shell

Despite what you may think from the words above, I didn’t actually expect the Black Jack taco to be bad. I just expected it to be boring. Judging from the promo photo and the 89 cent price tag, I expected it to be pretty much identical to Taco Bell’s “Crunchy Taco”, which is also 89 cents on the Value Menu. There’s nothing wrong with this menu item; it just tastes like 89 cents’ worth of shell, mystery meat, iceberg lettuce and some cheese.

Black Jack Side

Which is exactly what I got on my first few bites of the Black Jack taco. I’d already expected the sauce to be sparse and unexciting, but I had actually expected it to be there. But then, on the third bite, I got a good mouthful of sauce. And you know what? It was actually goddamn tasty! I can actually say that Taco Bell’s use of the word “zesty” when describing the sauce on their website is accurate. It’s got a nice consistency, like creamy nacho cheese sauce, but instead of being spicy, it’s got a twangy zip that makes your taste buds salivate for more. After those first few dry bites, the middle of my taco had just the right amount of the pepperjack sauce. It oozed out the sides, which would have made a great picture, but I was too busy eating it to stop and get the camera. Bob’s taco had a lot less sauce, which was disappointing, but too bad for him. I gots the sauce. I win.

I found myself actually wishing I had another Black Jack taco. No, it’s not the greatest taco in the world – it is from Taco Bell, after all – but if you’re going to eat a shitty 89 cent taco, why not slap some tasty sauce on there, inexplicably dye it black, and give it a stupid name? The point is, I would shell out 89 of my very own cents to buy one again, of my own volition, and that’s not something I can say too often on this site. So, way to go, Taco Bell – you made a retarded gimmick and a moderately tasty taco. Wear your crown of mediocrity proudly.

  • Score: 4 out of 5 hamburgers, all dyed black
  • Price: 89 cents
  • Size: 1 taco
  • Purchased at: Taco Bell
  • Nutritional Quirks: May or may not contain squid ink?