Sunday, September 6, 2009

TBG Eats: Taco Bell's NEW Chicken Ranch Gordita

Current Weight: 167.2 lbs.

Growing up, we didn't have a microwave oven until I was in ninth grade. This was a few years before the word "microwavable" was actually invented, if that makes any sense. Since microwave popcorn hadn't been perfected, my family owned one of these – please note the old-timey microwave dial in the background and pats of unmelted butter on top of the contraption.

With my family's '80s microwave, I had to be creative when it came to snack-making. (Or, at least I did until these bad boys finally hit the market.) No disrespect to the other great African-American inventors of the past, but I daresay some of MY pre-microwavable microwave achievements should get the same one-month-out-of-the-year mentions as Madam CJ Walker's straightening comb, Garrett Morgan's traffic light and the other half-dozen or so names and achievements from the second verse of KRS-One's You Must Learn.

For 20 years, I've been making microwave "nachos". Take two big-azz handfuls of tortilla chips, top with two slices of American cheese and heat on high for 20 seconds. Ten seconds isn't long enough…thirty seconds turns the nachos into napalm. It is quite the delicate balance, but when done right it's…well, let's call it acceptably edible. I mean, c'mon…we're talking chips and fake cheese here. No one's claiming it's coq au vin, y'all.

It's not difficult to "invent" food at home. That's why, during my all-too-rare visits to one of the local fast food establishments; I favor the menu items that are a lot less likely to come out of MY kitchen. Taco Bell is positioning its new Chicken Ranch Gordita by its price tag ("A Gordita has never been 89 cents!") instead of its ingredients. From a marketing perspective, this is a good thing.

Here's what the coins from your couch cushion will get you: chicken strips, ranch sauce and shredded lettuce folded inside "a warm, pillowy flatbread". All of these things – including the "warm, pillowy flatbread" – can be found at your local supermarket and at any given time I'll wager at least three of 'em are in your own refrigerator.

At some point in the last 25 years, ranch dressing became America's official salad accompaniment – despite my one-man campaign for Caesar salads and the criminally underrated blue cheese wedge with bacon. Consequently, all ranch dressing now comes from the same surplus drum. TB's ranch dressing is thin with a mildly tangy aftertaste. Just like everyone else's. The "flame-grilled" chicken could've come from Costco's heat n' serve line of mediocre meals.

The Chicken Ranch Gordita is an unexceptional effort lacking in both flavor and originality. Don't get cocky, Taco Bell. The "best new fast food menu items" award for 2009 is still yours to lose, but you're stumbling down the stretch.

You've been warned.

Grade: 1.5 (out of 5) Calories: 310, Fat: 17g


SHough610 said...

You want excellence? Try those string cheese sticks over tortilla chips.

JPinAZ said...

You're killing me with these TB reviews. The names sound so tasty. Nacho Crunch Burrito. Chicken Ranch Gordita ($.89!). I was looking forward to lunch tomorrow.

But a 1.5 & 2.5? Sigh. I guess I'll have to go somewhere else.

Jeff Hansen said...

Now, I'm a late convert to the ranch, but I will fight to the death on behalf of some combo of Caesar & bacon & blue cheese. Call me when you need a northern rep.

That Bootleg Guy said...

I will say that the two separate spots for the "1/2 pound burritos" and the chicken ranch gordita slayed me. Saw 'em both over the weekend. Evander Holyfield?! It's just precious that TB thinks a 10-year-old cashier would remember him. And, the "this CAN'T cost 89 cents" spot was cute, too.