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The Terrifying Taco Bell & Cheeze-It Collaboration is Exactly What We Deserve

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There’s little to be prideful of when considering the warped shape of things in the United States. I mean goddamn…just look around: Covid is on the rise and Monkeypox was recently declared a national emergency. Pelosi is flying around the world potentially starting WW3. And FED Chairman Jerome Powell, that shivering totem pole who probably wishes he hadn’t been confirmed for a second term, recently stated, I think we now understand better how little we understand about inflation” as consumer sentiment lays belly up in the gutter and inflation is at all-time highs. 

The land of the free and the brave. More like the land of the broken, the lost, and the disillusioned. As noted above, the warped shape of things is getting more extreme and dangerously distorted. Where’s the edge? Is there one? Or, is there only more of the same adverse void this nation, my nation, our nation just cannot seem to shake?

There are plenty of repercussions plaguing American soil because of these events. More than 14 million U.S. adults have an alcohol use disorder. Excessive drinking is linked to 95,000 deaths every year. Out of the beer, wine, and spirit market, the biggest winner is beer, with over $121 billion in sales in 2022 and is expected to grow annually by 7.45%. As our forefathers who swept their demons under the bar stool for a later date loved to say, “Smok’em (and drink’em) if you got them.” 

Don’t believe me? Check the link to discover John Adams’s favorite food wasn’t food at all, but hard alcoholic cider, Bill Clinton’s meal of choice was cheeseburgers (no shade from me there), and George Bush Jr.’s favorite food, the perfect segue into the meat of this article, is the culturally joined abomination – the Cheeseburger Pizza.

George W. Bush loves his cheeseburger pizza. Image from First We Feast

Former President Bush Jr.’s staff said  “homemade cheeseburger pizzas” was his favorite “because every ingredient of a cheeseburger is on top of a Margherita pizza.” Sure former President, just like every weapon of mass destruction was in Iraq with Saddam. Now, back to your little paintings and your brushes.

In the face of all this national distortion, this violence, absurdity, and doom, what more logical step would any major fast-food chain and any favorite brand of gas station snack take but do a biblically unnecessary collaboration? Do we not stand united in questionably sourced lettuce, meat, cheese, and beans, a cracker with a shelf-life of 11 months, and a dream? What collaboration, pray tell, am I hinting at? The Big Cheez-It Tostada and the Big Cheez-It Crunchwrap Supreme, which you can see below courtesy of the top-tier marketing campaign done by Taco Bell. What a surreal beauty of distraction, disregard, and gluttony:

Image Courtesy of Taco Bell

Don’t think I didn’t try to eat this. Don’t even dare think I didn’t even try to eat both. If you’ve read my previous articles, you understand that I am a disciple of the Popeyes Chicken sandwich and have – only once – created the double-decker Popeyes Chicken Sandwich. See the evidence below:

Courtesy of Mitchell Duran Archives

Fast food, however horrifically bad for you, is an escape. For me, many an afternoon trip has been taken to Popeyes, Taco Bell, or otherwise after a volatile night at Molotov’s to flee my present mind and body. Yet the escape, like most, has skeletons in their closet: the appropriation of authentic food from other countries dumbed down and minimized to appease the dulled taste buds of the American public; the lack of time to make decent food at home (about 50 percent of Americans have a full-time job plus a part-time job according to the St. Louis FED); and most importantly, fast food is the perfect pea-in-the-pancreatic cancer when it comes to “curing” a hangover (see beer data above). 

The Taco Bell, Cheeze-It collaboration doesn’t just make sense, it is inevitable, it’s natural, and it’s what the people want while, in no way, need. 

It is the American Way.

Realizing that the Big Cheez-It Tostada and the Big Cheez-It Crunchwrap Supreme are only being offered down in L.A., I took to the reviews to see what gems I could find from the community. When you can’t do it yourself, why not hear what the world is saying about a crispy, toasted Frankenstein topped with cheese, beans, and whatever else is in the back of the walk-in.

Jonathan Dale of the Takeout writes,

The Tostada here is a revelation because the Cheez-It works so well as a base. It’s more substantial than you might assume, holding up the beef, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and sour cream without feeling flimsy. There’s a satisfying crunch. What the Big Cheez-It does here is justified its size. The classic cracker is a great snack, but super-sizing it gives the Cheez-It more density: it is a stable vessel that makes all the sense in the world as you eat it.”

The Cheez-it is 16x its average size, so if you think the cracker will be your usual fav snack, don’t. 

Dane Rivera writes,

With the Crunchwrap, you have that grilled tortilla wrapping, which makes each bite heartier and more substantial, with the cracker inside acting as a crunchy separator between the soft veggie and meat ingredients.”

Indeed an engineering feat, challenging the culinary concepts of structure, ranges in taste, and collaboration. If anything can be said of these two entrees, it’s a concert of nosh favorites and staples in fast food culture. 

Envious of the two above writers’ experiences, I went to Taco Bell to get a mash-up of tacos, burritos, and other greasy goodies. Amidst a battleground of ripped hot sauce packets and oily shards of yellow shell, I couldn’t help but meditate about how radical an idea like The Big Cheez-It Tostada and the Big Cheez-It Crunchwrap Supreme indeed was and the startling metaphor underneath.

“This is a perfect product to make us believe it’s all ‘fun and games’ when in reality, it’s far from it,” I remember telling my girlfriend. She rolled her eyes and focused on her ravaged pile of Churro twists. “The point is in the severity of the serving. The point is our consent! The ant circle of death!”

“First of all,” my girlfriend said, leaning back in one of Taco Bell’s fixed plastic chairs, “you’re yelling, and there are people around. Second, you sound like one of those CERN conspiracy theorists that think Stranger Things is a troll from the deep state. Relax, please.” She sighed. “You’re getting paid for this little article you’re working on, right?”

I nodded assuredly. “Will definitely cover the meal.”

Our meal?”

“Of course.” I reached out my hand to take hers, our embrace hovering over a mashup of black and pinto beans, sprays of Coca-Cola, and love.

“At least that’s something.”

After we cleaned up and headed to the car, I couldn’t help but meditate on what she said earlier. Perhaps she’s right, I thought, maybe I do sound like one of those CERN conspiracy theorists convinced Bill Gates, and Blackrock are going to control the food supply and the housing market, but then I remembered the numb, complicit acceptance of the Big Cheez-It Tostada and the Big Cheez-It Crunchwrap Supreme and how easily that car wreck of a below $10 entree slipped into our diets and our minds. 

Had the multi-billion dollar corporations keened on humanity’s psychological need for escapism tapped into this gluttonous crunchy crutch? 

How much bad news could a majority be fed before the will to fight was replaced with the comforting, defeatist blanket of guzzling Topo Chico Hard Seltzers, gobbling foot-long corn dogs, and whatever else just to feel one was alive?

How long until the definition of absurdity and justice becomes the ouroboros state of our reality? 

I have no idea. I just write about goofy moments in fast-food history, though they seem to be popping up more and more as this experimental merry-go-round spins and spins and spins. 

Guess we’ll have to see what’s on the menu next time.

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Mitchell Duran

Mitchell Duran

Mitchell Duran is a freelance writer of fiction and non-fiction. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Winner of the ClarkGrossman and Wilner Award in Short Fiction, his work has been featured in Drunk Monkeys, The Millions, Music in SF and more. He survives in San Francisco.