I think Taco Bell®’s breakfast slogan should be “Because if you make the worst decision of the day this early, things can only get better” but the drive-thru screen proclaims going to Taco Bell® as “your best decision of the day” which to me really seems like adding insult to injury.
It seems like a few years ago Taco Bell® finally realized that somewhere between 85% and 99.99% of their business goes to drunks and stoners, perhaps best exemplified in a taco where the shell is made out of Doritos®. It seems to be working out well for them, but apparently they’re still catering to drunks and stoners with their new breakfast menu. The problem I see with this is that, even though their breakfast is available later than most fast food breakfast (they go to 11 AM), most people aside from alcoholics, wake n’ bakers, or people still drunk from the night before aren’t going to be in those states of mind that early. Maybe if it went til 2 and was billed as a brunch menu people might have had the chance to get a few mimosas or bloody marys or bellinis or irish coffees or screwdrivers or tequila sunrises or fuzzy navels or whiskey straight out of the bottle or whatever people drink in the morning I ain’t about that life in them.
But anyway, I’m not here to review Taco Bell®’s business practices. I’m totally underqualified for that. And besides, it seems to be working out well so far. I went a little after 10:30 on a Sunday morning (I know, that was too late, I didn’t intend to go but I didn’t have any food in the house and if I haven’t eaten I don’t have the strength to fight past my hatred of grocery stores enough to actually go to the grocery store, it’s a catch-22 where the only way out was Taco Bell®) and a huge line of cars started pulling up to the drive through as things got closer to 11 and the end of breakfast. I felt a little sorry for the poor bastards working there but that feeling went away pretty soon.
Taco Bell® actually has a surprising number of things on their breakfast menu. I only tried a few because I don’t hate myself that much, but most are pretty self-explanatory. Breakfast burrito? Probably pretty good, it’s a breakfast burrito and they’re always good. Breakfast taco? Probably the same as a breakfast burrito, just folded.
OK, now that I’ve reviewed the items I didn’t eat, on to the ones I did.
The Waffle Taco comes in two varieties, sausage and bacon. I got the sausage one. If you’ve somehow missed hearing about it or seeing it and somehow aren’t able to imagine what something called a “waffle taco” could possibly be, it’s a waffle folded like a taco, containing a sausage patty, eggs and cheese.
Of all the breakfast items, this one definitely looks like it belongs on the late night menu. I could totally see myself…I mean…someone else scarfing down two or three of these at 3 AM. In the cold, sober light of the morning, though, it looks a little suspicious.
I tried to go into it with an open mind. After all, the one time I tried McDonald®’s McGriddle® (a biscuit sandwich using miniature pancakes rather than a biscuit), I liked it, and this is kind of the same thing, right? And it’s not like any of these ingredients wouldn’t be eaten together. Maybe not necessarily in the same bite, but like that disgusting kid in the lunch room who always mixed all his food together used to say, it all goes to the same place anyway.
I first tried it plain, without syrup. It was OK. The waffle was soft and actually did a pretty good job of containing the ingredients. Adding syrup definitely improved it, though. Unlike the abovementioned McGriddles®, the waffle doesn’t have maple syrup flavor already imbedded in it. And then, on the advice of my cousin who beat me to the “ridiculous review of Taco Bell breakfast” punch, I tried something even weirder, and added hot sauce to the syrup.
That’s the right way to do it, hands down. I know it sounds weird as hell, but if (God help you) you ever find yourself eating a Waffle Taco, definitely put hot sauce in the syrup. Think about it, it makes sense: syrup for the waffle, hot sauce for the eggs. Simple chemistry.
The Cinnabon® Delights™ are little fried balls of dough, dusted with cinnamon sugar and filled with frosting. I’m not sure if they’re new, but they’re billed as part of the breakfast menu and I’d never tried them before, so I picked some up.
They’re pretty good. When you put the balls in your mouth, warm, delicious, gooey white frosting gushes out. If you don’t put the whole thing in your mouth, sometimes some gets on your face and you have to lick it off. And no, there is literally no other way to describe that.
They’re super tasty, but I’m not really into sugary breakfast. Honestly, even as sugary breakfast goes these seem way too over the line. They’re actually even sold on the dessert menu later in the day.
The A.M. Crunchwrap™
You might have heard about the A.M. Crunchwrap™ already, and anything you’ve heard is true. I mean, I’m not gonna say angels sang when I bit into it or anything but it was really good. It comes in three varieties: steak, bacon, and sausage. I got the steak one because I’m bougie and also because what is steak even doing at Taco Bell®.
Unless you skipped the rest of the review, you probably know by now I wasn’t too sure about the whole Taco Bell® breakfast thing, even after eating the other stuff. The Waffle Taco was better than I expected, but was it good enough to justify Taco Bell spending millions (or billions? I have no idea how much things cost) of dollars on rolling out a whole new menu, adding coffee makers to their stores and expanding their opening hours into the morning? Maybe not. It’s kind of a gimmick item in all honesty.
The A.M. Crunchwrap™, though, is clearly the item that is going to make Taco Bell breakfast a success. In all honestly, it’s probably the entire reason Taco Bell® even considered making a breakfast menu in the first place. Some misunderstood, underemployed genius on the food line came up with it, and the stoners in upper management were so impressed that they actually put down their bongs for a few seconds.
“Dude,” one said, “We have got to make a breakfast menu. We are gonna make trillions off this thing.”
“But, we can’t make a menu with just, like, one item, man! We’re, uh, respected businessmen?”
“Man, I dunno dude, let’s make a taco out of a waffle or something.”
And thus the Taco Bell® breakfast menu was born. It was morning, then it was evening, and on the next day the Taco Bell® execs rested and raked in the money, over the bent and broken backs of the working class.
OK, so, the A.M. Crunchwrap™ itself. It’s based on the same concept as Taco Bell®’s Crunchwrap Supreme™, which is also pretty good, but the A.M. Crunchwrap™ is smaller and better. It’s filled with eggs, cheese, hash browns(!), and sausage/bacon/steak, depending on what you chose. If you’re a hot sauce person, put hot sauce on it, if you aren’t, don’t. I am and I did, but it’s good either way.
Taco Bell®’s food has never really been the kind you could eat while driving. Tex-Mex or southwestern or whatever the hell it is that Taco Bell® is bastardizing isn’t exactly the neatest food. The A.M. Crunchwrap™ changes all that. I’m a somewhat messy eater, and I was at a table so I wasn’t even being that careful, sometimes putting it down or opening a hot sauce packet or stopping to cry at what I was doing to my digestive system, and only two little bits of egg fell out the entire time.
It doesn’t even make sense. They must have hired MIT graduates to work on this thing. Not only is it the least messy item Taco Bell’s ever made, it’s probably the least messy fast-food breakfast item anyone’s ever made. Your precious Chik-Fil-A® biscuits crumble to pieces and get crumbs all over the damn place, don’t even try and tell me they don’t because you lyin’, that’s just what biscuits do. The A.M. Crunchwrap™ is the perfect size to fit in your hand, and it doesn’t make a mess at all. It may not be the perfect drive-thru breakfast item, but it’s as close as our flawed species has come so far, and it may indeed be the closest we ever come.
At My Neighborhood Kroger (if their commercials are to be believed, that’s now the name of the store), they’ve started putting “freshly” baked doughnuts near the entrance of the store, those magnificent bastards.
So far, I’ve always managed to resist the temptation, but I always give them a fleeting, longing glance as I leave the store. Only today, after I’d been staring for well on 30 seconds, I realized a guy was standing next to them, giving me a weird look.
“Oh, sorry man,” I said, “I was looking at the doughnuts.”
He shook his head. “You weren’t lookin’ at doughnuts,” he said, “You were lookin’ at DEEZ NUTS!”
Why would I want to talk to the dead? What could we possibly have to say to each other that would be of any interest?
“So I tried out this new pizza place the other day….”
“I haven’t eaten anything in 25 years. Way to rub it in.”
“Oh sorry. Let’s talk about you, then. What’ve you been up to?”
“Oh you know, not much. Just kind of floating around, rattling chains, moaning spookily, regretting having died with unfinished business, the usual. It’s been pretty lonely, really, it’s hard to get out when your physical manifestation is tethered to the spot you died.”
“That’s cool,” I’ll say, meaning the exact opposite. “Well, it’s been fun, but I gotta go.”
“Really? You just got here. What do you have to do?”
I don’t have to do anything, I’m just sick of talking to this boring dead guy. I can’t say that, though. I’m a sensitive guy and I don’t want to hurt his feelings. So I make something human up and hope he doesn’t remember enough about being alive to realize what I’m saying makes no sense: “I have to pee. You know how it is. Damn these bodies, always with their physical needs and stuff. You’re lucky, really. Anyway, I’ll see you later.”
“No you won’t because I’m an INVISIBLE GHOST.”
I had of course heard of the Taco Bell Doritos® Locos Tacos for several weeks. Every time I had the same thought: “That is either going to be completely disgusting or completely amazing, and probably both.” I don’t dine at Taco Bell® with the frequency of my younger days (mostly because I don’t live very close to one anymore), so the chance to sample this new dish did not readily present itself.
I eventually decided that if I didn’t seize the day eventually it would vanish from the menu (and most likely never return), so one day after getting off of work I decided to try it. I got off around 11pm, which is crucial because it means it was late enough that I was too tired and lazy to go to the store to buy food or make food, but early enough that my girlfriend wouldn’t be home for another few hours so if I needed to throw it up afterwards I’d have time.
Pulling into the drive-thru I was struck at how cheap the price was. Usually Taco Bell®’s promotional items are downright pricy (up to $3.50 in some cases!), but the Doritos® Locos Tacos are only $1.69 for the regular version, and $1.89 for the “supreme.” I have no idea what the difference is between the regular and the supreme, but I figured that I might as well “go big or go home” and go for the full Taco Bell Doritos® Locos Tacos Experience. The price being so low, I considered buying two, but then instead I decided I liked being alive.
The cashier at the drive-thru was fairly pretty. I was a little embarrassed to be buying such a disgusting food from her. She gave me extra sauce though, so obviously she didn’t think too lowly of me. Really, thinking about it, it’s not too outside the realm of possibility that I was the best-looking man who’d been through the drive-thru during her shift. This is Taco Bell® after all.
The drive home was one of anticipation. I drove quickly, perhaps too quickly, afraid that the culinary masterpiece sitting in my passenger seat would go cold (it did a little, unfortunately).
When I got home, I poured myself a glass of fruit juice to go with it so I could pretend that I make good life choices sometimes. I unwrapped the taco.
I could see immediately why the price was so low. It’s the same size as other Taco Bell® tacos, which is to say, pretty small. The other thing is that like most other Taco Bell® products, it contains that wonderful weapons-grade tube beef. When I eat at Taco Bell® I usually opt for chicken. It’s a bit pricier, but it doesn’t come from a tube and it doesn’t feel like it’s trying to assassinate you once it’s inside your body. In this case, though, I decided to opt for the beef in order to get the “pure” Taco Bell Doritos® Locos Tacos experience (at least as far as you can use the word “pure” when describing a taco with a shell made out of Doritos®).
What distinguishes it, of course, from other tacos is the shell. The shell was the angry orange-red of Nacho Cheese Doritos®, and indeed, taking a bite I could immediately taste the familiar flavor as the shattered bits of corn chip hit the salt receptors on my tongue. There’s also the cheesy aftertaste you experience with Doritos®, as well as a bit of the familiar finger residue (not nearly as much as from actual chips, however).
The Doritos® flavor was soon overwhelmed, however, as I began to masticate the contents of the taco. With a normal bite, it was impossible to tell that it had anything other than a plain corn chip shell except for a slight Doritos® aftertaste.
The taco was quickly devoured, leaving me still hungry. The fruit juice washed it down nicely.
Mr. Johnson had been coming to our restaurant for years. Every time he came in, he would order the same meal: grilled chicken with a side of broccoli, a baked potato (butter only) and a coffee. After he finished eating and the plates were cleared away, he would take out his domino set. Occasionally he would come in to eat with someone else and they would play with him. Sometimes one of us would sit down to play a round or two. Often, he simply played by himself. Whatever the case, he frequently stayed for at least an hour after he was done eating, and sometimes even longer. He would sip his coffee, politely asking for refills when necessary.
Newer employees were sometimes annoyed by him. “Why is that guy just sitting there playing dominoes?” they fumed. “He’s already eaten and paid for his meal, he’s just taking up a table that some other paying customer could use.”
“That’s Mr. Johnson,” we’d tell them. “Who the hell are you? He’s been a part of this restaraunt longer than you have.”
The restaraunt closed at 10 P.M. Mr Johnson knew that we were trying to go home. Although nobody had ever asked him to leave, he always packed up his dominoes and left as soon as the clock struck 10 if he happened to still be around at that time. Not to mention, he always tipped well.
Nobody knew anything about him. He knew several of us by name, and we would often sit and talk to him, but he never talked about himself or his life. Most people thought he was a lonely widower, his children (if any) grown and long gone. There were, of course, much more wild rumors as well. Some claimed that he was a former Nazi, or a former spy, or even a current spy. One wild-eyed fry cook floated the hypothesis that Mr. Johnson was a highly advanced domino-playing robot.
A busboy tailed Mr. Johnson home one day to see where he lived. The next day a crowd gathered around him to hear the details of Mr. Johnson’s home life.
“Where did he live? What was it like?” they asked him.
“It was just a regular house,” he said, shrugging.
Mr. Johnson didn’t come in every day, so it took a few weeks before we realized he hadn’t been in for quite some time. There was a sense of quiet panic as we all tried to figure out what had happened to our favorite customer.
“It had to happen eventually,” the conspiracy theorists said, “His cover got blown, the CIA’s taken him in for questioning.”
Henrietta Simmons discovered the answer as she was paging through the newspaper on her break. Henrietta was the type of person who always read the obituaries. She said it made her feel better about herself.
“Come quick!” she called, “Mr. Johnson is dead!”
Stuart Johnson died Tuesday. He was 89.
He died at the Angel of Mercy Hospital of respiratory failure.
Mr. Johnson served in the Army during World War II, and entered the paper industry after returning. Mr. Jonhson was an avid domino player (several of us chuckled as we read that) and dog breeder.
He is survived by three children and five grandchildren. Services will be held privately.
We passed around the newspaper in silence. After all these years, we finally had gotten a glimpse into the life of Mr. Johnson, and now it was too late. Many were secretly disappointed, as it turned out that his life was not nearly as exciting as they had imagined. Mr. Johnson was just a regular person.
We cut out the obituary, had it framed, and hung it up on the wall. It’s still there to this day.
“Hey, look!” called out the kid, prodding a small paper bag with his foot. The old man walked over and picked it up carefully.
“Now there’s a symbol I haven’t seen in years. ‘Trillions served.’ That was more than the population of the planet at its height. Damn fine achievement.”
“What’s this?” asked the kid, picking up a cup made out of a strange, squishy white material. Inside was a dark brown liquid.
The old man took a sip and smiled wistfully. “The nectar of the gods,” he said.
He passed the cup to the kid, who took a sip and winced. “Gross! It’s so sweet!”
The old man smiled sadly. “We used to drink that poison by the gallon. But now let’s see what’s in the bag. Those health nuts always used to say that there were enough preservatives in this ‘food’ to last a hundred years. Maybe they were right.”
He opened the bag and pulled out a small cardboard container filled with thin yellow sticks. He offered one to the kid, who took it and sniffed it cautiously.
“It’s a funny thing,” mused the old man, “I never ate here before the war. I always preferred the competitors. But hey, everything changes.”
He popped one of the sticks into his mouth, chewed, and grimaced. “Well, some things stay the same,” he sighed. “The food here still sucks.”
Bear Grylls looked up from his meal. “Did you hear that?” he asked.
“Well gee Bear I dunno,” said Tim, “What’d it sound like?”
“This is why I’m famous and you’re only the cameraman, Tim,” said Bear. “It sounded almost like…a small bell.”
“There was a bell on the door of the restaurant,” said the doctor.
“I bet it was the bell on the door of the restaurant,” said Bear, “Let’s check it out.”
The trio crept to the door of the kitchen and peeked out into the dining room. There, they were horrified to see several zombies sitting at the tables, pounding their silverware and loudly demanding their meals.
“Gee Bear, that’s a lot of zombies dontchaknow,” whispered Tim.
“Now look,” Bear said, pulling back into the kitchen “Things look pretty bad right now, but I didn’t get to be the most famous survivalist in the world by giving up when things look bad. I’ve got a plan.”
“Hello!” the three shouted as they glided out of the kitchen wearing the clothes that used to belong to the waiters of Luigi’s. Each of them held a covered silver platter in their hand and they approached the nearest table. The zombies looked up at them and grinned.
“Tonight, for your first course,” said the doctor.
“We’re just so proud to present to you,” said Tim.
“Your death! Um…second death!” shouted Bear, as the three whipped the cover off of the platters to reveal meat cleavers and other various knives.
In the aftermath of the bloody battle, the three sat on the floor exhausted.
“Where’d you learn to be so good with a knife?” Bear asked the surgeon.
All of a sudden, three police officers kicked down the door.
“Freeze!” they shouted, “We’re shutting this place down for not paying your rent!”
“There’s a zombie plague infesting the city and you’re worried about rent?” asked the doctor, amazed.
“You have the right to remain silent, so shut up!”
“Make sure you get this on camera,” Bear whispered to Tim. “Confrontations with armed maniacs always bring the ratings up.”
Bear stood slowly, holding his hands in front of him in a gesture of peace. “Officers, there’s been a mistake,” he said, as he grabbed for the nearest one’s gun. Unfortunately, another one of the officers noticed this and smacked him in the face with a shotgun, shattering his skull. Bear Grylls collapsed, dead.