It's Not Taco Bell We Crave, It's The Drama

Fast food's cycle of discontinuations and comebacks is exhausting.

Have you heard the news? The Mexican Pizza is finally back at Taco Bell, and this time, it's permanent! The restaurant has apparently solved the supply chain issues that led to the Mexican Pizza's demise in 2020 and brought the damn thing back for good in May 2022, though it had to go away again soon after when the chain ran through its supply due to high demand. This week, the Mexican Pizza has officially returned to the menu again, for good, and is now even being advertised on the site's homepage under the banner, "MEXICAN PIZZA FOREVER." While the news is probably exciting for many of you, I'm sure a lot of you are feeling something else: fatigue.

Don't worry, fast food current events give us whiplash too. (Chasing rumors can be about as mentally exhausting as you'd imagine.) So let's face the inevitable together: Now that the Mexican Pizza is back, it's a simple fact that the collective enthusiasm surrounding this menu item will fade away.

Taco Bell is notorious for doing the snatch-and-grab with its limited-time-only items, the Nacho Fries chief among them; I roll my eyes whenever I see yet another announcement heralding their return. The Taco Bell marketing machine is excellent at hyping seemingly random items like chicken wings and tacos and Big Cheez-Its. We know this stuff is always in the works, we just don't know when they will arrive or how long they'll stay. It's hard being kept on tenterhooks 24/7.

Yet despite the hype cycle, I still manage to get a kick out of the anticipation surrounding this kind of stuff, because, well, I'm a human being. I like having things to look forward to, like surprise record drops by musicians and fanfare surrounding video games (GoldenEye is coming back and 13-year-old me can't be more excited). Food marketing is no different.

Something our minds allow us to forget between drops is that most new fast food items are only okay at best. We know this all too well. But the circus surrounding them is as much a part of pop culture as anticipated movies, games, and sporting events. The BTS McDonald's meal was no more than a Chicken McNugget value meal with two new sauces, but the excitement it brought the public was genuinely meaningful. Was I really excited about two sauces? No way. I already knew they'd be either too sweet, too salty, or both. But for a proud Korean American, the success of the promotion hit different.

So yeah, the food is rarely life-changing, but I'm not going to deny the fun of it all. The demise of the Choco Taco was a huge day at Takeout HQ. Will the Choco Taco be making a comeback? I don't know for sure, but follow the money—if Unilever senses enough demand, then we can expect to start seeing cheeky, cryptic posts on official social media pages that hint at "big news" in advance of National Taco Day. It is then that the cycle will begin anew.

All this orchestrated food marketing drama is obviously planned out and depended upon by corporations for sales and brand narratives. I know my part in this ecosystem, and it's important to acknowledge (especially since it's my job). Amid the manufactured chaos of these cancellations and resurrections, our attention never wavers, because there's an edible prize at the end of the day—something we can actually sink our teeth into. But the second we do, the thrill of the chase dissipates, leaving us to find the next diversion.