Friday, June 10, 2011

TBG Eats: The NEW Beefy Melt Burrito from Taco Bell

Current Weight: 164.0 lbs.

Back in college, I ate negligibly worse than I do today. In late August 1995, before my first semester at San Diego State University formally convened, the only food I could afford were 99-cent
Jumbo Jacks. And, for a five-day stretch (before my on-campus meal plan kicked in) they were all I ate -- one Jumbo Jack, once a day for dinner. No breakfast, no lunch.

I'd always heard about the "freshman 15", but everyone I knew from my hometown seemed to LOSE weight after their first few months away at college.* I dropped to around 155 lbs. This was not an attractive look, considering I'm six feet fall. My 36-inch intentionally baggy denim shorts** unintentionally sagged six inches past my backside.

* -- My good friend Vig left Long Beach in 1994 to attend college in Sacramento. When he returned home that Christmas, none of us recognized him. Oh, he was STILL 5'3" and STILL inexplicably tucking his t-shirt into his jeans, but these jeans sure looked like the waistline matched the obvious 24-inch inseam.

** -- Before I moved to San Diego, I was dating a girl who completely overhauled my wardrobe -- including the selection of several pairs of XXL denim shorts. "These are how shorts are SUPPOSED to look!", she proclaimed excitedly. A few months later, I found out from a different girl that the denim shorts fad had passed. "NO ONE wears those anymore!", she snorted.

I've always wished that men could get in on these internal societal memorandums. Or, at the very least, can't men come together to shout down a female fashion trend that needs to end? Are we too late to bash the
ballerina flat fad? We are? Dammit. I did NOT like those shoes.

Once the financial aid checks started arriving, I was able to keep my refrigerator 10-15% filled at all times. I still wasn't eating much, but with my microwave oven, at least they were (unevenly) hot meals. My most frequent eats were "hobo nachos" and "one-minute chili dogs".

The nachos began with one "family size" bag of tortilla chips (or "fiesta size", depending on how ethnically condescending you want your packaging to appear). From there, I'd need a sixteen-slice package of American cheese (and, yes, I still remember the inconspicuous fist pumps I'd make in the dairy aisle when the 24-count cheese was on sale ). jar of
commercialized salsa.

Two handfuls of tortilla chips, two slices of cheese, microwave for half a minute and top with salsa. I could get eight meals for about six dollars total.

My chili dogs were equally pitiable. Microwave two hot dogs for 30 seconds. Put them in buns, top with a few spoonfuls of canned chili and microwave for another 30 seconds. Got some extra cheese slices from the 24-count package that happened to be on sale? Then, take one -- ONE -- slice, tear it in half and place both florescent orange strips atop the two chili dogs. Microwave until melted.



Hey, shut up!

But, it also brings us to the latest menu option from Taco Bell: the Beefy Melt Burrito. From TB's website:

Our classic seasoned beef, seasoned rice, three cheeses & cool reduced-fat sour cream sealed up by a warm flour tortilla & melted to perfection.

The culinary "hook" -- if I'm interpreting the below commercial correctly -- is quickly-melted cheese.

This was pretty much my own dietary criteria for most of the mid-1990s.

The Beefy Melt Burrito is the quintessential Taco Bell food. The ground beef comes right to forefront with its ubiquitous seasonings and slightly mealy texture. Some of the cheese flavor seeps through, but it's muted by both the beef and my local TB's maddening tendency to shovel on the sour cream. Inside the tortilla, it's the rice -- still superfluous, no matter how many value burritos Taco Bell folds it into -- that takes over texturally.

Taco Bell at least landed on the right price. It's only 99 cents and the creativity isn't much more evolved than the thought that went into one of their regular tacos. If TB had doubled the ground beef, eliminated the rice (yes, I've made both suggestions 100 times before) and went with a sprinkling of red tortilla strips inside, they'd have something better than the Beefy Melt Burrito's current end result.



Grade: 1.5 (out of 5) Calories: 470 Fat: 20g


Other Joe said...

No mentions of the undertones and borderline sexual harassment in that ad? That guy is one bad conversation away from being a huge stalker!

Your college meals = wow that's... inventive? I used to do "ghetto quesadillas," which consisted of two tortillas, a lot of cheese, and salsa microwaved. Because let's face it, who has time to make a real one?

I had one of these along with a 5 layer burrito... couldn't really tell the different between the two.

And nobody wears jorts. I have to tell my Dad that every time he comes to visit.

thai said...

neither of those meals explain the lone bottle of mustard i saw in the refrigerator.

Aaron C. said...

@Thai -- YES! That was during my five-month stay in that studio apartment. No microwave, no TV, no bed. (You know, I really should write my autobiography one of these days.)

@O. Joe -- In Taco Bell's defense, I worked in food service for three years and my awkward attempts to ask out my co-workers ended the same way as "Mike/Mitch". So, points for accuracy.

Also, back then, I'd mircowave-melt cheese over anything. Tortillas, delicious Triscuit crackers, broken up taco shells...

Strangely, I don't miss being broke.

Anonymous said...

Gotta admit, Denise is looking pretty foxy here.

Aaron C. said...

I hope you'll forgive me for approving the above comment. I'm a sucker for 1970s misogyny.

Lew B said...

I like the photo of the burrito with your hand around it. A good caption would be, "You can have this burrito when you pry it from my cold, dead hand!"