Because when a fast food item gets the honor of its own launch date, how can I stay away? Even from something this hideous?
I avoided the previous Locos Tacos because I never cared for ranch dressing as a flavor, and the idea of powdered nacho flavor at a place that actually serves the (ostensibly) real thing from a pump is a blasphemy of the highest order in my Church of the Horribly Made Junkfood.
“Fiery,” however, is a concept that works for me. Ever since I first heard it associated with those self-dismembering puppets in Labyrinth.
There is an excess of packaging to this things. First you unwrap the taco, then inside the wrapping it’s in a cardboard sleeve that’s blue on one side with the Cool Ranch logo, and red on the other with the Nacho Cheese one. Nothing to indicate the Fiery flavor, but maybe the origami masters at the Taco Bell factory can develop a triangular sleeve down the line. By which time there’ll be a new Locos flavor, of course, and so on.
The reason for the cardboard sleeve is, I suspect, to avoid fingerprints on your food, as the whole thing is thickly dusted with orange powder. On the Cool Ranch taco, this was well-disguised with a normal yellow shell and white flavor powder, but Fiery has a shell that’s dark red, and a powder that’s bright orange. If Taco Bell were The Muppet Show, it would be Animal.
Biting into the thing initially yields an intense blast of saltiness, because of course what fast food needs is MORE goddamn salt. It yields a bit to a sour note that is supposedly lime, and after a few bites a lingering hotness starts to build on your lips and tongue. It’s not unpleasant, but the added tang and heat is an effect I would prefer to be achieved via sauces rather than a powdery shell. That may be old-timey bias, with my taste buds simply refusing to innovate, but who knows – authentic Mexican snacks seem to have spicy powder sprinkled on them just as much as – if not more than – hot sauce sloshed on, so I’m thinking maybe, for once, the Bell is being more authentic (albeit accidentally) than I.
Now, here’s the unpleasant side effect: the Fiery Locos Taco appears to have kicked off its predecessor in red shelliness, the Volcano Taco, off the menu altogether. My local branch no longer has it on the menu. We can argue the merits of one versus t’other, but in my world of taste (or lack thereof), the creamy sauce that burned beat the orange powder hands down. Now the die is cast and the deck is stacked, and the winner is saltier than I think I can stand on any kind of regular basis.
Not that Taco Bells tacos are the reason to go there. They haven’t been in years. Gloriously cheap nachos and Meximelts all the way, baby. And Mountain Dew on tap.