Saturday, March 17, 2012

TBG Eats: The NEW Doritos Locos Tacos from Taco Bell

Current Weight: 167.8 lbs.

This past December was the five-year anniversary for this lightly-read blog. I hopped into the way-back machine and pulled this quote from
my very first TBG post:

I have NO idea what this blog is going to turn into or even how long it'll last. But, if you liked...any of my previously published stuff, you'll like this.

I'm not sure if I kept my "'ll like this..." commitment -- although, if you're still reading this, I'm going to consider myself positively prescient! -- but, I can confirm that five-plus years and more than 200 "Food n Drink"-labeled posts were most assuredly not in my original mission statement. Of course, other than the never-ending adventures of my eight-year-old son, I'd argue that the food reviews are most responsible for keeping my infinitesimal piece of internet real estate open for business.

With the much-ballyhooed debut of Taco Bell's new Doritos Locos Tacos, I started wondering where the hype ranked with my personal list of most-anticipated empty-calorie eatin' in the TBG era.

(3) Maple Bacon Donut -- I found out about this decadent confection last year, just 24 hours before my annual intestine-extending adventure at the San Diego Fair. After conquering it,
I wrote: The bacon's contrast in both saltiness and texture with the soft sugary spread allowed the flavors from each bite to linger for several extra seconds. Finally...fair food worthy of my obligatory grading hyperbole.

(2) Slater's 50/50 -- My friend Smitty first introduced me to the glory of "50% ground beef, 50% ground bacon". Last April, I drove roughly 90 miles one-way for the Slater's experience and couldn't contain my excitement in the
gastronomic aftermath: When my 50/50 burger was brought out, the bun was practically glowing with an impressive showroom finish. I cut it in half and noticed the beautiful red tint in the meat just before the ubiquitous bacon aroma hit me flush in the face. In my first few bites, the bacon gloriously overpowers everything else.

(1) KFC's Double Down -- I don't believe I've written any other fast food review that included the words "I left work early...", but damned if I didn't make a dash for the four-door sedan before quitting time was official. From my office, the nearest KFC is 20 minutes away and in the next city over, but the journey was
worth it: Thick, but not overly dense. Meaty, but not overwhelming for my mouth. The KFC flavor retains its gloriously guilty pleasure salt n' pepper taste. The bacon, cheese and Colonel's sauce starts off strong, but begins retreating into the background after the first few bites. Halfway through, their subtle(!) notes lent the chicken a smoky, peppery kick that brought the Double Down across the finish line and into "5 out of 5" territory.

All three received my highest rating, with the maple bacon donut and 50/50 burger reaching the coveted, exaggerated "500 (out of 5)" status.

I couldn't, however, seem to get excited about the Doritos Locos Tacos. It's felt like an unnecessary union from the beginning as arguably the two most recognizable faux Mexican food brand names have come together to produce the greatest...inauthentic gimmick-ethnic food of them all? To be clear, I'm a fan of both Doritos and Taco Bell, separately. But, who was begging for them to be combined? At least the maple bacon donut and 50/50 burger could hang their respective hats on the nationwide bacon fad. And, the Double Down was an obvious nod to American excess. Doritos Locos Tacos seem more like an exercise in effective marketing. Proof that an ad campaign can make you eat something you never wanted.

Last weekend, I pulled into my Taco Bell drive-thru and ordered two Doritos Locos Taco Supremes and another two without the "supreme" sour cream and tomato accoutrements. Since my son Jalen adores Doritos (trust me, the italics are his) I thought I'd drag him along for this bit of blog fodder.

At first glance, the Doritos Locos Taco Supreme looks like a regular Taco Supreme, save for the nacho/Hulk Hogan-colored shell. Surprisingly, the taste is almost identical to the regular Taco Supreme, too. The Doritos taco shell lends next to nothing in added flavor, as the Taco Bell ground beef remains the most prominent taste on the tongue. The rest of the ingredients -- shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and reduced-fat sour cream -- are, as usual, superfluous.

I broke off several pieces of the Doritos taco shell to eat by themselves and found the flavor to be almost muted by snack chip standards. This tasted like a plain ol' Taco Bell shell that was lightly rolled around in the residue of an empty Doritos bag. Even my Doritos-loving son lamented, "It doesn't taste like anything different." Hell, this isn't even the most visually appealing shell that Taco Bell has turned out over the past few years.

Taco Bell should be commended for creating genuine buzz around such a run-of-the-mill meal. But, while the advertising certainly brought customers in, I doubt that the Doritos Locos Tacos -- on their own -- will bring those same customers back.

Grade: 2 (out of 5) Calories: 200 Fat: 11g


SHough610 said...

The double-down was the first fast food I ate in seven months... I regret nothing.

Brian K. said...

I can't believe you like T-Bell. However you're going to have to give me the scoop on the 50/50 burger at work this week.

Skip Serpico said...

Your disappointment makes me sad. I was actually sort of looking forward to trying this taco out. It appealed to me. I really wanted to live more.

I'm sure I'll still try it out at some point, but I'll be haunted by this review.

Unknown said...

First of all, how do you lose almost 4 pounds in 10 days with a seemingly Doritos-centric diet? I want that to work for me.

Secondly, I went to a miserably cold, rainy, and hail-y spring training game yesterday (we waited thru the rain delay, but left after about 5 innings—we couldn’t take it anymore). Anyway, it was the Dbacks vs the A’s, and I thought of That Bootleg Family. Is it time for the annual spring training trip?

Aaron C. said...

@Unknown(!) -- Honestly, I've given up trying to make sense of my metabolism. It seems to work in fits and starts. I'm guessing the scale won't be kind after tonight's enormous breakfast burrito and beer-based dinner :)

Also, we were on the fence for Spring Training, but the wife's wonky work schedule and a fluid Little League schedule is going to keep up out of AZ for the first time in four years. Trust me, Jalen's taking it worse than any of us.

@Skip -- I was underwhelmed, but the reviews have been pretty positive elsewhere. Maybe my Taco Bell standards are...too high?

@BK -- You and the wife should hit up Slater's, son. A zillion beers on tap, enormous portions and bacon in everything -- including the brownies and milkshakes.

@Sam -- Agreed. Fortunately, the nearest KFC is a bit of drive for me (by neighborhood standards). If it wasn't...well, my blood pressure is grateful.

Kristen said...

Hm, when I left my comment, I tried to sign in with my Google account. I guess I thought it would know my name. I didn't mean to be all weird and mysterious as Unknown. Send Jalen here via Fedex, and we'll take him to a couple games!