Outside the Bun, Inside the Tortilla

You've got to hand it to Taco Bell. They keep pumping out new menu items using the same five ingredients.

They're thinking "outside the bun" all the time, they are.

First, this isn't an anti-Taco Bell rant. Quite the contrary; I find T-Bell to be the best "bang for your buck" among the fast food competitors. I like all the menu items whose costs are measured in cents, not dollars. I like that you can take as many sauce packets as you want, sans rationing.

And it truly is "fast"---much more so than the burger joints.

Taco Bell does more with five ingredients than some places do with twice that many.

The folks at T-Bell have been saddled with tortillas, beans, beef or chicken, tomatoes and onions for decades, yet they keep coming up with new menu items including just those ingredients, with few exceptions.

Everything is self-wrapped in its own casing, for the most part, except for the tacos, which are the roofless convertibles to the rest of the menu's sedans.

I'm not going to bother to list the plethora of items that the Head of Cooks has come up with over the years, but they are amazing in their diversity, considering they all contain the same stuff, for the most part.

Yet another Taco Bell menu item utilizing the usual suspects

But that's how Mexican food is, similar to Italian cuisine, which is mostly pasta, cheese, and sauce.

Did you laugh scornfully when I called Taco Bell, Mexican food?

Well, what ELSE would you call it?

I know the menu items at your local T-Bell aren't exactly what a Mexican mother from south of the border would serve her family, so I'll compromise and call it Mexican-American food. Or, more accurately, Meximerican.

Call it whatever you like, you can't deny that Taco Bell gets awfully creative with the same five things.

They have a new item now, one that imports Frito's corn chips into its makeup. But the rest of it is still a flour tortilla and the usual suspects inside.

McDonald's, Burger King and the rest are constantly falling all over themselves trying to put together an eclectic menu, one that dares to be different. They use lots of different ingredients---way more than Taco Bell.

But Taco Bell keeps its menu items on the cheap side, and they keep coming up with new takes on old ingredients.

It's like one of those word puzzles, where you have to come up with 25 different words using one with five letters.

Taco Bell prides itself on thinking "outside the bun." I keep waiting for the time when they'll have to think "outside the tortilla."

More than 40 years after arriving on the food scene, that time hasn't come yet. It may never.


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