The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

October 15, 2009

I See a Taco and I Want to Paint it Black

Filed under: Food — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 10:58 pm

Let’s face it, if you’re running a fast food taco stand, there are only so many different permutations of things you’re going to be able to make out of the twelve different ingredients that constitute 90% of the stuff on the menu.  Since the stuff is usually pretty cheap, these places can usually get away with a few things like taking their taco, sticking it on a flat tortilla shell instead of a curved taco shell and call it a tostada (and probably even find customers who swear that one is vastly superior to the other,) but in general, customers are finicky, and eventually they’re going to start to get sick of the standard-issue tacos and bean burritos.  The trick is to find ways to make the customers think they’re getting something new and different, without actually having to come up with anything that’s too new and different.  After all, most of the money being made by this type if business is on volume, and bringing in all sorts of extra ingredients for one-off special items gets expensive after a while.  So what  do you do in this situation?

Well, they can always start by messing around with the color pallete.  From Taco Bell, purveyors of (sort of) fine Mexican fast food comes the all new for a limited time Black Jack Taco, by far the darkest taco you’ve ever seen.  The website describes the item thus:

“A crunchy black taco shell filled with seasoned beef, zesty pepper jack sauce, shredded lettuce, and a blend of three cheeses:  Cheddar, Pepper Jack and Mozzarella.”

Aside from the obvious change from the standard-issue taco (we’ll get to that one in a minute) the major innovation here seems to be the inclusion of Pepper Jack cheese and some sort of sauce, which I’d guess is probably the same vaguely sour cream-like sauce that’s somehow managed to find its way into half the items on the Taco Bell menu at some point or another.  Based on that description, I suppose they could call the thing a Jack Taco, but I suspect that a certain pointy-hatted fast food executive would presumably take issue with Taco Bell’s use of that name (I do not believe the name is in current usage, but I do know Jack in the Box has used it before.)  Thus the need to add something to the name, and the need to modify the product to make the name actually (sort of) make sense.

Which brings to this taco’s most, shall we say, distinctive feature.  While thinking of foods that are served black, I couldn’t come up with a whole lot.  I thought of licorice, black beans (an item which might presumably be seen in a place like this but would probably ruin their image by appearing vaguely healthy,) blackberries, black coffee (which is more brown than black really,) blackened catfish and a couple more items that I’ll refrain from listing here in the interest of preserving the appetites of my readers.  Somehow, I don’t see tacos on that list, or anything bearing any resemblance to tacos for that matter.  In fact, I can only think of a few reasons why a taco would need to be black:

  • Taco Bell is trying to find ways to improve their market share with the highly coveted “Goths and Degenerate Gamblers” demographic;
  • Those red Volcano Tacos they were selling last month messed up the Feng Shui, and they needed to add a dark color to the menu to bring it back into balance;
  • This is an elaborate scheme to try to salvage a bad day at the taco shell factory;
  • They needed some sort of Halloween item on the menu, and the name “Taco of the Damned” bombed badly in the test markets.

Anyone got any other ideas what might be going on here?  And while we’re at it, has anyone been foolhardy brave enough to try one of these things?

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2 Comments »

  1. I was this close to trying one but I broke down and got the crunch-wrap supreme instead, it comes with a regular taco and is ever so tasty. I would imagine the Black-Jack tastes just like the black Kettle Chips, whatever flavor those might be.

    Comment by Colin — October 15, 2009 @ 11:30 pm

  2. “Taco of the Damned” really has a ring to it though… I tried the Black Jack way before I started blogging about food (sadly) but it was really just pretty cheesy tasting. There wasn’t much flavor to the shell; maybe a hint of pepper, but barely.

    Comment by daniellewick — March 26, 2010 @ 4:40 pm


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