Dear Taco Bell,
You have been my favorite restaurant for as long as I can remember.
When I memorized every assigned Bible verse in Sunday school in third grade and the prize was dinner at any restaurant I wanted, I chose Taco Bell. (The only other winner chose Red Lobster.) Whenever my mom needed to have a Serious Talk with me as a kid, she would take me to Taco Bell first as a trade-off. You were the only fast food I ate on a vacation in Hawaii this spring. I also caved and ate you once on my road trip this fall even though I was trying so hard to eat only local specialties because I’m a little bit obnoxious that way. “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell” was my favorite song of 2009 by a long shot.
Sure, over the years I’ve been infatuated with plenty of other Mexican restaurants of varying quality. El Zarape, Front Street Cocina, Los Burritos Tapatios, Chipotle, Pacifico, Burritoville, and Rachel’s have all been go-to spots for me over the past decade. Yes, even Santa Fe Grill in Park Slope, a truly awful place that I’ve patronized dozens of times.
But you, Taco Bell, have never truly been replaced. I love your plain Soft Taco, your Nachos Bell Grande, and your classic Bean Burrito. A few years ago I went through a Cholupa phase. I pay attention when you make stunt additions to your menu, like your Black Jack taco. I always order a Meximelt, no matter what, and I only use Hot sauce, not Fire. If I have an opened but unfinished packet of hot sauce left over at the end of the meal, I PUT IT UP TO MY LIPS AND SUCK IT OUT.
The point is, I know you, Taco Bell. I understand your past, and I care about your future. So please understand this comes from a place of love, and remember that you can’t spell “tough love” without “love.”
Your new “Drive-Thru Diet” is really, really dumb.
You’re suggesting certain menu items can be part of weight-loss plan, although you’re careful to say the “diet” itself is “not a weight-loss program.” (Webster’s def. of “diet”: “a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one’s weight.”) Fair enough, on the surface. But this woman, this “Christine” who you want to make your own Jared-the-Subway-guy, took two full years to lose 50 pounds and she only ate 1250 calories a day, which means she went to bed hungry every night for 24 months. That’s not something your core constituency has really shown any interest in, to put it gently.
So, while I support you in everything you do, I just have to warn you – again, from a place of protective, passionate, never-faltering love! – that I think this will only earn you ridicule.
And it hurts me to see you mocked. Remember the “Bellbeefer,” your now-discontinued menu item consisting of taco meat on a hamburger bun? Also, that time everyone got E.coli? Oh, and when dozens of rats ran wild in that one restaurant on 14th Street? But I won’t remind everyone about that that. The point is, reconsider this “Drive-Thru Diet,” and then get back to doing what you do best: Making America’s best Mexican food.
I love you,