Taco Bell's beef tacos are mostly filled with meat...mostly. Or maybe not so much. That's the meaty claim in yet another fast-food lawsuit -- but this time, it's not about supersized asses or a coffee-seared crotch. And strangely enough, so far no one's asking for any punitive damages, just for Taco Bell to put the actual makeup of its "seasoned ground beef" out on front street.
The Alabama firm that filed suit against Taco Bell (because Alabamans have an awesome rep for being picky eaters; the state's tied for the number-two slot in adult obesity ranking in the U.S. as of July 2010) is alleging that the meat mix has too many fillers/binders/extenders to be labeled as beef under the U.S. Department of Agriculture's minimum requirements: The meat allegedly tested at around 36 percent real beef. If that's the case, then Taco Bell should consider using some sexier stuffing than wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodextrin, anti-dusting agent and modified corn starch.
Here are the top five things Taco Bell could use to fill out the other 64 percent of its "seasoned beef."
5. Bell peppers and onions. Adding this undynamic duo to everything is one of the hallmarks of an unskilled cook or, even worse, an inexperienced chef. Single, heterosexual men who try to cook for themselves get a free pass on using them, because at least they are trying not to depend on their moms for food all the time. But it would behoove Taco Bell to use a chopped pepper/onion blend to augment its scanty portions of meat, because as suburbanite Americans know, adding these to anything instantly transforms the dish into something really exciting: "fiesta" fill-in-the-blank (corn is an excellent example).
4. Rat. Anyone who was alive in February 2007 and had either a television set or an Internet connection will remember the video of the playful and well-fed rats scurrying around a New York City Taco Bell/KFC. Reactions were an even combination of hysterical laughter and sudden, decided bouts of ingestion. Instead of letting this untapped gold mine of prospective meat lie in the annals of Taco Bell's infamous history, why not use the rat-infested store as a test kitchen? Have the employees stop cleaning for a week or so, and then snag up bucketfuls of the plump, delectable little critters. This may make for more prep time (unless they just leave the skins and tails on), but with the right preparation, rat meat could very well produce the same luscious, satisfying rivulets of orange grease that the "beef" does.
3. Oatmeal. None of this "isolated oat product" crapola -- instead, Taco Bell should just hop on the fiber train and add some good, colon-scraping steel-cut oatmeal to its mystery meat mix. Oats are cost-effective, they'll keep customers from getting "the runs from the border," and they'll open the door to a whole new line of items, including the "Double Decker Tacoatmeal," "Pint-oats and Cheese," and "Tostad-oats."
2. Nothing. Screw it: Why doesn't Taco Bell just save money, let the hapless employees do less work, and just keep a minuscule scraping of meat at the bottom of the taco shells and inside the burrito tortillas? Make up the difference by stuffing more lettuce in everything (preferably sans E.coli), because it requires no effort or thought -- and much like Tim Burton, Taco Bell hasn't had an original idea in over a decade, so why bother now? People will still eat the stuff (and watch Tim Burton's movies).
1. Beef. A novel concept, to be sure, but perhaps Taco bell could just ante up and use actual beef.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.