Does anything ever beat a late night Taco Bell run after a night of paryting at the clubs? What about a quick stop for some Quesadillas on the way home after a long day at the theme park? Or maybe it’s just an average lunch break and there’s only one restaurant that can satisfy the craving. Nearly everyone and their chihuahua has delighted in some quick snacks from their local Taco Bell, but have they ever wondered how they are able to make those Tacos so tasty so quickly? Taco Bell is a master of advertising campaigns, but this list is all about the 10 Things Taco Bell Isn’t Telling Us About Their Ingredients, and it’s easy to see why these are Taco Bell’s most valued secrets.
10. Taco Bell Invented the Pre-Produced Hard Taco Shell
The story of how Taco Bell started is quite fascinating and tells the tale of how they became the first mass-producer of standardized taco shells. Taco Bell was actually founded in Dewey, California in 1962. After witnessing huge lines at a competitive Mexican restaurant across from his own hot dog business, Glen Bell was able to convince the owners to teach him how to make his own hard shell tacos and from there the rest is history! The owner needed the shells at a faster and faster pace in order to fill the large orders as his franchise expanded, and it is for this reason that Taco Bell is considered to be the creator of mass-produced taco shells. While competitors were hand frying shells to order, bell contracted a chicken coop maker to craft a taco shell holder for him. This invention allowed for speedy, multiple orders of tacos to be made and held. By today’s standards, many may prefer a good homemade taco shell, however it is this taco shell story that has enabled other Mexican restaurants to speed up orders as well as providing a foundation for the taco kits that young family’s grow up eating. Who would have thought that chicken wire could have been such an important figure in the history of the taco!
9. Stay Away From the Steak
Taco Bell likes to advertise the fact that they are one of the healthiest fast food establishments around. Because of this, many of the more health conscious eaters often pick Taco Bell as their fast food establishment of choice – as opposed to some of the greasier establishments such as a burger or a fried chicken restaurant. When choosing healthy options, many are drawn towards the grilled steak options. This option seems much healthier when compared to the sometimes questionable Taco Bell ground beef or spicy chicken options, however this may only be a facade. According to one Taco Bell employee, the steak itself is apparently extremely concerning – especially when left out too long. One employee has claimed that if the steak is not used quickly enough once removed from the fridge, it begins to form a gelatin like consistency that is absolutely repulsive to the eyes. What this could have been caused by and whether this is a common occurrence at Taco Bell restaurants is difficult to say, but there’s one thing for certain here. Taco Bell would not want to tell us about their questionable steak selection that’s supposedly a healthy option. The good news? The chicken is healthier and tastes way better anyway!
8. Avoid the Taco Bell Beverages
Over the last decade, Taco Bell has significantly increased the quality of their foods by offering no artificial coloring, lower sodium options, whole quality ingredients, and a plethora of vegetarian and vegan options. While this has been wildly successful in terms of marketing, as it has largely changed the Taco Bell image, unfortunately it does not extend to every facet of the Taco Bell menu. There are two places where the menu does not promise the same Taco Bell quality as regular menu items. When it comes to cross promotional menu items, and the fountain soda machines, they do not guarantee the same standard. This means that unfortunately the unnatural color of those amazing Mountain Dew promotional drinks and the amazing flavor of the many Taco Bell specialty items that are offered periodically, is unable to advertise the same virtues that the Taco Bell of recent years has become so familiar with. This isn’t a huge inconvenience, but when one considers how often Taco Bell offers cross promotional brand items, it seems that there are often many menu items that may not bolster the same ingredient simplicity. In the past Taco Bell has offered menu items featuring Fritos, Airheads, and Pepsi Cola, so it is fair to say this restaurant knows how to properly combine fan favorites! So long as one is able to properly navigate the Taco Bell menu and avoid the overly promoted items, this restaurant can still make a great lunch stop!
7. The Ingredients Were Not Authentic Enough for Mexico
Despite being one of the largest taco retailers in the world, many may be surprised (or perhaps completely unsurprised) to learn that Taco Bell did not find its roots in Mexico. After starting in Dewey, California, Taco Bell quickly expanded across the United States finding wild success not only with their standard hard and soft shell tacos, but also with a bunch of changing and exciting menu promotions featuring fun ingredients. Following this success, Taco Bell decided to take a chance in a nation where they believed they would almost be guaranteed impressive sales and a massive market to work with: Mexico. The plan seemed perfect. Why wouldn’t Mexicans be interested in such a popular fast food restaurant from the States that features their cultures’ food? Well unfortunately for Taco Bell executives, their guaranteed success was met with very little acceptance. In the US, where very few had experienced truly delicious and authentic Mexican food, Taco Bell was able to satisfy demands and delight customers. However, when citizens have grown up consuming presumably higher quality Mexican food with personalized ingredients and family recipes galore, Taco Bell’s extremely basic and standardized menu was unable to capture the hearts of the neighbors south of the border. In the end, after two different marketing platforms and two different failures, all of the Taco Bell restaurants were removed from Mexico.
6. Greasy Deep Fryers Flavor the Food
Although the Taco Bell menu typically stays away from fast food items, the use of a deep fryer is still essential in several of their products including the cinnamon twists, fries, and more. Unfortunately for consumers, the items that are treated to a deep fried oil bath are less than appetizing when one considers the state of the deep fryers themselves. According to employee accounts, the deep fryers are not the cleanest pieces of equipment in the Taco Bell kitchen. Employee testimonials claim that the oil in the deep fryer was often used far past what some would consider to be acceptable. It has also been claimed that on busy days, the deep fryer is rarely strained. Ever thought you were lucky finding those couple of fries in your order of cinnamon twists? You might just want to avoid them instead because there’s really just no telling how long they may have been floating in a bath of hot greasy bubbles. Fortunately for fans of the franchise, many of the items on the Taco Bell menu never touch the deep fryer so if anyone is concerned about the potential cleanliness factor of their local Taco Bell’s deep fryers, they can be rest assured they can still find a tasty bite to fill the stomach.
5. Their Taco Meat is Only 88% Beef!
Around 10 years ago, Taco Bell was facing one of its worst publicity crises in the restaurant’s history. Customers were shocked to discover that the classic Taco Bell beef – the main ingredient of so many menu items – was supposedly only actually 88% beef. How could the meat not be 100% beef? Rumors spread quickly of potentially dangerous additives, fillers and other chemical compounds that could have potentially been the culprit. Since the publicity nightmare, Taco Bell has released exactly what makes up the other 12% of the beef and thankfully for consumers, the ingredient list is much less frightening than it may have initially appeared. Besides adding ingredients like oats to bulk up and solidify the mixture and small traces of cocoa powder to increase consistency on color, most of the ingredients listed have to do with either flavor or preservative measures. Ingredients such as salt, pepper and spices are also added to the mixture. Aside from the initial shock, the list of ingredients is high quality beef with additives that most people commonly find in their pantry. However, with the reaction of the public when they discovered that the beef was technically only 88% meat, it’s easy to see why Taco Bell did not, and still does not, want people really knowing about the contents in the Taco Bell beef.
4. Fresh Produce is Not the First Ingredient
One of the biggest secrets at Taco Bell relates directly to the quality of their fresh produce ingredients. Toppings like lettuce and tomatoes are served fresh, unlike many of the bagged, frozen, and rehydratable Taco Bell dishes. While this sounds fantastic as it guarantees a certain level of freshness in each meal, when the quality of the produce itself is not being held to a high standard, chances are the product is likely to suffer and the customer will be the one who’s left disappointed. According to Taco Bell employees, one of the biggest issues on the menu is the quality control of cut produce on the line. While many restaurants start each day with a fresh line of assorted vegetables, Taco Bell supposedly often uses the same produce from the previous day! This means that the supposedly fresh pop of flavor on a nachos supreme has often been unused produce from the previous day. Leaving produce on the line overnight causes wilting, slimy textures, and lack of consistency. The good news is that employees say the old produce usually only lasts about an hour in the morning after opening so this restaurant still has the rest of the day to serve up some tasty tacos. Maybe if the ingredients were fresher Taco Bell would have had more success in their past salad ventures!
3. The Purest Menu Items are the Simplest
One of the major things Taco Bell does not want you to know about dining at their restaurant is about how the healthiest options are also the cheapest. Some of the best options on the menu, in terms of simple and whole ingredients, just so happen to be the cheapest. When dining in or taking home Taco Bell it’s important to stay away from the menu headliners. This refers specifically to anything that may have the tag line “double wrapped, triple stuffed, double layered, xl and xxl” – these are some of the major culprits. Although these items sound and look tasty, the best options that the menu has to offer in terms of true nutritional value are those such as the grilled chicken tacos, black bean burritos, chicken grillers and plain chips with salsa. Diving into the more elaborate menu items is almost certain to guarantee an extremely high calorie, high sodium, and high fat meal. Just like any fast food restaurant, a consumer must always be smart when placing their order, especially if they are putting their nutrition first. Although the company continues to strive towards healthier and better quality ingredients, those who order the massive menu items are likely not counting calories anyway!
2. Cinnamon Twists are Actually Pasta
One of the biggest secrets on the Taco Bell menu is not so much an issue of quality, but more so a secret ingredient that many may not expect. The delicious, crispy, and airy cinnamon twists that are the perfect addition to any combo? It will surprise many to know that this cute desert is none other than deep-fried pasta noodles! When the noodles hit the deep fryer, they expand to a massive size and fill with air giving the light crispy texture that Taco Bell fans love. The pasta is a Mexican variety known as duros that offers a slightly different recipe than traditional pastas as it is made with wheat flour, corn meal, rice flour and salt. This specialty pasta is the reason why Taco Bell claims that this recipe is apparently not possible to make at home. Unfortunately for the brand, as much as they may have tried to cover up this amazing little trick, there are a plethora of online videos, recipes, and photos proving that these tasty little treats can be cooked up in a home kitchen. So what if the Taco Bell drive thru closed early after a late night out. Homemade cinnamon twists are available quickly at any time of day!
1. Refried Bean Pellets
Something that drives Taco Bell fans absolutely crazy is the wildly inconsistent texture of the refried beans that fill many of the burritos, tacos and other yummy menu items. Sometimes the beans seem so watery the burrito can hardly hold them together, and at other times they leave a dry and pasty consistency that lingers unwanted on the tongue. The reason behind the variability in the beans is because Taco Bell beans actually arrive at the franchise locations completely dry. The beans, according to Taco Bell employees, more closely resemble rabbit food pellets than actual beans. These are then mixed with water by staff to create the much used ingredient. Depending on which employee makes the beans and how long they’ve been on the shelf, the texture can range from liquid to perfect to way too dry. When any food that is meant for human consumption resembles the same pet food that is used for beloved furry friends, people are immediately going to be concerned, and potentially disgusted. Let’s be honest though here. Refried beans are not the most appetizing of ingredients to begin with, but this way of making them would assuredly turn many customers away which is probably why Taco Bell wants to keep this process secret and why it is the number one thing Taco Bell isn’t telling us about their ingredients.