Sunday, April 01, 2012

How Loco is Your Taco?

I'm just not in the mood for politics. Watching the GOP Clown Show on April Fool's Day just seems redundant. Instead, let's talk fast food.

Every brand of fat-enriched, unhealthy food-like products sold over a counter and through a window wants to stand out from the crowd, so they keep trying "innovations" that aren't particularly innovative.

And I'll try anything once.

Burger King rolled out its "new" model french fries just in time for St Patrick's Day this year. Personally, I wasn't impressed: they were bland, not particularly crisp, and actually a step down from what they used to sell.

Taco Bell, on the other hand, decided to go with an interesting idea: they paired with Doritos to make taco shells, and cross-pollinated the products to create the Taco Bell Doritos® Locos Taco. And you know what they ended up with? Is the answer "Awesomeness!"?

Not really, no.

The taco already contains most of the flavors in the Nacho Cheese Dorito - the spice is in the meat, not the cheese, but the components are all there. So really, all you're adding is the orange fingerprint dust coating the outside of the shell.

Oh, and a hefty dose of sodium. Don't forget that.

Break a piece of the shell off, it tastes like a Dorito. But that flavor gets overpowered by the taco. So essentially, instead of just getting random chunks of taco filling dropping on the paper (or your shirt, or your pants), you get all that, plus a light coating of artificial cheese and salt on your hands.

You know what this product is meant for? Brand loyalists. Which means I'm not the target audience.

For one thing, I don't go to Taco Bell often - I live in New Mexico. I have actual Mexican food choices, for similar prices; I also have much better choices, for only slightly more.

(We also have an interesting hybrid locally, called New Mexican food - it's like Tex-Mex, without the emphasis on artificial cheese, cheap cuts of meat, and over-processed greyish-brown bean-like paste. And the chilies: New Mexico's biggest agricultural product is featured, but the purpose is to enhance flavor, not just burn off the top layer of skin on your tongue; our big question is "red or green?" As in the color of the chili sauce, not which football team you prefer.)

And for similar reasons, I'm not a huge Doritos proponent. I kind of like the artificial-cheese end of the snack food spectrum, but have no specific brand or variety that I'll choose first. What's available, what's cheap, and what tastes best all factor in, to varying degrees depending on the day.

In general, I have no brand loyalty. Which must make me a perplexing demographic, from a marketing standpoint.

And really, the only real component the Dorito shell adds to a taco is mental: if "Doritos are awesome!" is tattooed somewhere in your forebrain, then the idea of eating this taco has a certain mental thrill for you that I don't experience.

But that's why the ads have the taco coming out of a Doritos bag. That's why the (perfectly reasonable, by the way) cardboard sleeve the taco comes in has the Doritos® logo emblazoned on it. You're the target audience. I'm not.


Steven said...

Well said! And if I won the lottery I would be moving to New Mexico in a heartbeat. It's my favorite State in the US...(yes, I do know it's in the US of A.) There's a lot of smart people there!

Nikoel Anders said...

If you've managed to find an actual Mexican restaurant, and not a New Mexican restaurant in town, I must insist you give me the details immediately.

If the red &/or green chile is smothering the entire plate, that is not Mexican food. It's just "okay" food covered up in chile to make it seem "good".

Nameless Cynic said...

Federico's - remember Chris' friend Rafa, with the Mexican-born mamacita? Went back to Mexico every few summers as a kid? He vouches for its authenticity.