The latest in a series of harmless things that offend me: the new Taco Bell Beefy Crunchy Burrito.
If you can’t see the YouTube embed, or if you can’t stand the suspense: it’s a burrito topped with Fritos.
At first this embarrassed me. What does it say of the paucity of the American dining experience that consumers would prefer a processed corn chip to the flavors that the processed corn chip represents? No, Mr. Bell, I don’t want a spicy, salty, crunchy topping for my burrito – I want some Fritos all up in there. It’s not as if the average Taco Bell burrito contained a lot of natural ingredients in the first place. But at least they weren’t competing by brand.
Having been raised by flavor barons, I can almost guarantee that this idea didn’t come from a lab. Some Taco Bell manager in Bozeman, MT, or Murfreesboro, TN, or Clinton, MS, kept seeing his patrons unwrap their burritos and drizzle a string of Fritos on them. The third time he saw it, he picked up the phone. Suddenly we have a new fast food taco offering across America.
Then again, I have to admire the ingenuity of the Frito-Lay corporation in inventing a way to classify taste. Taste and smell are the hardest senses to describe in words (I feel like I recommend Italo Calvino once every fifteen months, but Under the Jaguar Sun devotes specific attention to this problem). Frito-Lay gets around it by marrying a specific taste combination to a brand. Everyone in America but the Amish knows what a Frito tastes like. Taco Bell is just riding the wave.
They could describe their new Beefy Crunchy Burrito as “an awesrageous wave of spicy, salty, crunchy, beefy taste” and leave the audience guessing. Or they can say, “Hey, it’s topped with Fritos,” and everyone knows where they stand.
Still. A burrito topped with Fritos. This bothers me in a way the KFC Double Down doesn’t.