Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fast Food Halloween Treats

Taco Bell and Chipotle both have special offers for Halloween this year.

Taco Bell will be giving away their new Black Jack Tacos.

One free Black Jack Taco for every/anyone from 6 pm to Midnight on Halloween night. (Limit one per customer, while supplies last, etc, etc).

Chipotle is giving away a free burrito, tacos, bowl or salad to anyone who comes into a Chipotle dressed as a Chipotle burrito.

This promotion may not be at all locations, so call your local Chipotle for details, but the restaurants we've checked will be handing out Boo-ritos to the appropriately attired from 6 pm to close on Halloween night.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Taco Bell Adds New Color... Black

Taking food coloring usage up a notch, Taco Bell has introduced their 89¢ Black Jack Taco.

Red was the color of choice with the Volcano line introduction... now it's all the colors, to create black.

A black taco shell and some pepper jack sauce and it is the classic crispy taco redux.

At 89¢, it is an addition to Taco Bell's 79¢-89¢-99¢ Why Pay More! Value Menu.

It has 210 calories and 17 grams of fat (.5 grams Trans Fat). Fast Food Facts complete nutritional info:

Labels: ,

Monday, June 29, 2009

Taco Bell's Video, "All About The Roosevelts"

Taco Bell has a new music video that is running in movie theaters and on TV across the country staring Bobby Edner (of Varsity Fanclub).

The music video is for a song called "It's All About The Roosevelts" which features Bobby wrapping about the Taco Bell Value Menu and the money you can save... and some break dancing, too.

Here it is:

Labels: ,

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Taco Bell HQ and Test Kitchen Tour

Taco Bell invited me and several other food bloggers to Irvine, CA to tour their headquarters and test kitchen and to discuss their new Volcano menu. They flew us in from as far away as Maryland, Michigan, St. Louis and Texas (that’s me).

Taco Bell HQ

I'll have much more in future posts about the visit and the answers to some questions submitted by you, Fast Food News readers, and Reddit users. In this post, I'll outline our visit and share some photos. More photos are available in this Flickr set.

Most of us arrived on Tuesday afternoon (last week) and they took us out to dinner at Five Feet in Laguna Beach.

On Wednesday morning we walked the 2 blocks from our hotel to Taco Bell's headquarters.

In their main building,

Taco Bell HQ

we saw their company cafeteria (featuring KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell),

Taco Bell cafeteria

and their lobby, (that's a cut-out of founder Glenn Bell in the center)

Taco Bell HQ

with their original menu, logo and mascot:

Taco Bell HQ

Then we went to the building next door to their glass headquarters building to visit their test kitchen (that has the same food and equipment as your local Taco Bell),

Taco Bell test kitchen

and meet their 'food innovators.'

First, we tasted their new "Lava Sauce"

Taco Bell's new Lava Sauce

That is used on their Volcano Taco

Taco Bell Volcano Taco

and their Volcano Burrito, seen here being made in their test kitchen,

Making a Taco Bell Volcano Burrito

and completed:

Taco Bell's Volcano Burrito

I have to confess to loving the Lava Sauce and, at this very moment, craving a Volcano Burrito. They gave us each a Volcano taco and burrito to eat there in the test kitchen... and then we were given a chance to make whatever we wanted in the Taco Bell kitchen. Most of the other bloggers were much more creative. I tried to re-create the Volcano Taco (plus some sour cream), but it looked pretty sad when I was finished:

My creation

Although I'll have much more to share... here's a few tidbits we were told:
  • They'll be a new Volcano menu item coming in August.
  • They test new products all the time at Taco Bell and the employees are sent an e-mail about that day's test inviting them to the test kitchen for a free lunch and feedback on the new product.
  • The original, in-house name for the Crunchwrap was the "Origami Tostado"... you know, because of the folding.
  • This summer's Frutista Freeze flavor will be Pina Colada, with real Pineapple chunks. (We tasted it.)
  • 70% of Taco Bell's business is done in the drive-through.
Here are links to posts about the trip by other bloggers in attendance: Grub Grade, Scott Robert's Web (hot sauces), Epic Portions, Endless Simmer, and Food Beast.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Fast Food News to Visit Taco Bell Test Kitchen

I'll be traveling to Irvine, CA and Taco Bell headquarters next week to visit the Taco Bell Test Kitchen and get a behind the scenes look at their menu development process and talk with their 'food innovators.'

I'll have news and photos when I return.

This is your chance to pass along your questions, comments, or suggestions to Taco Bell's menu creators!

Email them to me at:


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Fast Food at Guantanamo Bay

From Wikipedia:
In 1986, Guantanamo became host to Cuba's first and only McDonald's restaurant, as well as a Subway. These fast food restaurants are on base, and not accessible to Cubans. It has been reported that prisoners cooperating with interrogations have been rewarded with Happy Meals from the McDonald's located on the mainside of the base.

In 2004, Guantanamo opened a combined KFC & A&W restaurants at the bowling alley and a Pizza Hut Express at the Windjammer Restaurant. There is also a Taco Bell, and an ice cream shop that sells Starbucks coffee. All the restaurants on the installation are franchises owned and operated by the Department of the Navy. All proceeds from these restaurants are used to support morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) activities for service personnel and their families.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Jack's Shameless Superbowl Head Trauma

Like millions of others, you probably saw Jack get hit by a bus in the Jack in the Box ad during the Superbowl.

The 'official statement' after the ad says "In lieu of sending flowers, please order anything on the menu, anytime of the day.  Jack would want it that way."

Just another attempt at fast food viral marketing (with a huge Superbowl price tag), and the requisite web site

Miss it?  You can see all the Superbowl ads over at Hulu (see below).

But for now, here's some fake cell phone video taken right after the accident:

We wrote about the Denny's Superbowl ad and free Grand Slam on Monday.

The only other fast food Superbowl ad was Taco Bell's. And we think that was a huge FAIL.

Here's all the Superbowl ads (on Hulu):

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Free Taco Fallout - Taco Bell

Last week I told you about the free taco on Tuesday at Taco Bell.

Hopefully some of you got to take advantage of the promotion and get a free taco.

There's been some other fallout from Taco Bell's Stolen Base/Taco promotion:

The Tampa Bay player, Jason Bartlett, who stole a base in the World Series and thereby activated this promotion has certainly heard from America about their free Taco.

Bartlett's cell phone has been inundated with messages and texts congratulating him on the stolen base and thanking him for the free taco.

He has had to change his number!

Also, a Consumerist reader who was checking his local police logs noticed that his local Taco Bell was having some problems with the folks lined up in the drive-thru waiting for their free taco.

Evidently this particular Taco Bell wasn't willing to give a free taco to everyone in a vehicle in the drive-thru. Although the rules only specifiy one per person (not one per vehicle).

Tell us about your free taco (if you got one)... was their a long line? did you have any trouble getting it?


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Free Taco Tuesday at Taco Bell

Taco Bell had their free taco for a stolen base in the World Series promotion again this year.

Last night Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett stole 2nd base in the bottom of the 5th inning of Game 1.  Result:  Free Tacos.

You can visit any Taco Bell location on Tuesday, October 28, 2008 from 2 to 6 pm (local time) to claim your free Crunchy Seasoned Beef Taco.

2007 was the first year for the stolen base version of this free taco promotion.  Jacoby Ellsbury stole a base in last year's World Series resulting in the free tacos.  In 2006 the free taco resulted from a home run.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Taco Bell: Triple Steak Burrito & Frutista

While Taco Bell is experiencing increased business during the current economic downturn due to their "Why Pay More" value menu, they've also introduced the most expensive menu item they've ever had, the Triple Steak Burrito priced at $3.99.

The Triple Steak Burrito is big.  It weighs in at 339 grams.  By comparison, the 7-layer Burrito weighs 283 grams.  The Triple Steak is also loaded with protein:  37 grams.  Of course, you get 25 grams of fat (230 calories from fat) with the Triple Steak Burrito, and 660 total calories.  (complete nutritional information below)

They've also introduced a fruit-flavored frozen beverage called the "Frutista Freeze."  The Frutista, priced under $2, is a high profit margin product for Taco Bell (as are most beverages).  It is basically a flavored-water slush.  It contains no fruit juice (only fruit flavors).Taco Bell/YUM! Brands Chief Marketing Officer, David Ovens, has called the Frutista Freeze "the goose that lays the golden eggs."

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Taco Bell Value Meal

Taco Bell has a new value menu with some new items.

It has 3 price points: 79¢, 89¢ and 99¢.

The 79¢ menu includes: Cheese Roll-Up*, Triple Layer Nachos*, and Cinnamon Twists.

The 89¢ menu includes: Crunchy Taco, Soft Taco, Volcano Taco* and Cheesy Double Beef Burrito*.

The 99¢ menu includes: Big Taste Taco*, Bean Burrito, 1/2 lb. Cheesy Bean and Rice Burrito, and Caramel Apple Empanada.

*new items

Don't adjust your monitor! That taco is red! Taco Bell's new Volcano Taco, also part of the value meal above, comes in a red taco shell. (It is a limited time offering.)

The Volcano Taco has 'real' cheddar cheese, cheesy lava sauce, lettuce, and seasoned 'beef,' all in a bright red taco shell.

Don't be confused, the 'cheesy lava sauce' is not just nacho cheese sauce. As RandomVillain (sic) on eBaum's world says: "it is not nacho cheese. Tastes nothing like nacho cheese. Its called LAVA SAUCE. And it is the destroyer of taste buds. Tastes more like chili."

The Volcano Taco has 240 calories, 150 calories from fat, 17 grams of fat, 5 grams saturated fat, no trans fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 490 mg sodium, 14 grams carbs, 3 grams fiber, 1 gram sugars, 8 grams protein.

Labels: ,

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Interesting Facts from Taco Bell

Found some interesting company facts on Taco Bell's website today. Thought I'd share...
  • Originated by Glen Bell, Taco Bell became a reality on March 21, 1962. The first franchise was sold in 1964.
  • Taco Bell employs more than 143,000 people in company-operated and franchised units and corporate offices in the US.
  • Nearly 150 million people see a Taco Bell commercial once a week - more than half the US population.
  • Over 2 billion tacos and 1 billion burritos of all varieties are served in Taco Bell restaurants each year.
  • In an average year in the US, Taco Bell consumers, company and franchise restaurants, consume:
    • 3.8 billion corn and flower tortillas
    • 62 million pounds of pinto beans
    • 295 million pounds of seasoned ground beef (my note: that's about 600,000 cows)
    • 106 million pounds of cheese


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Jon Stewart on Taco Bell in Mexico

The Daily Show's Jon Stewart talked about Taco Bell opening their first store in Mexico and wonders if Taco Bell will use their slogan, "Run for the border," in Mexico, too. He also shows us what a television ad in Mexico for Taco Bell might look like. Watch it below (or here)...

Labels: ,

Monday, October 22, 2007

Taco Bell's 2007 World Series promotion

Last year, Taco Bell's World Series promotion was to offer a free taco to everyone in America if there was left-field home run during Game 3 of the World Series. After six innings with no home runs, Taco Bell extended the promotion to include any home runs.

There were no home runs in the game, but the sportscasters talked about Taco Bell and their promotion during the entire game giving Taco Bell some great exposure (although I'm sure it cost them plenty).

This year Taco Bell's World Series promotion involves stolen bases. Any stolen base during the entire World Series will earn everyone in America a free taco.

Taco Bell is using the slogan "90ft. to free tacos for America" for this promotion. 90ft. being the distance between bases on the baseball diamond.

Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Lou Brock, who stole a record 14 bases in World Series play (including an individual series record seven during the 1967 MLB World Series), will serve as Taco Bell's spokesperson. "Steal A Base, Steal A Taco" will also benefit a worthy cause -- a monetary donation of $20,000 will be made to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

If there is a stolen base, you can obtain your free Crunchy Seasoned Beef Taco on Tuesday, October 30, 2007 (if base is stolen in Games 1 or 2 on October 24 or October 25, 2007) OR November 6, 2007 (if base is stolen in Games 3-7, October 27, 28, 29, 31, November 1, 2007). (More details at

The good news for taco lover's: There has been at least one stolen base in every World Series matchup since 1990.

Labels: ,

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Taco Bell to open in Mexico

The Consumerist and The San Diego Union Tribune are reporting that Taco Bell will be opening their first fast food restaurants in Mexico in 15 years.

Taco Bell doesn't have to worry about being lost in the throngs of Mexican restaurants in Mexico because Taco Bell doesn't serve Mexican food. And they admit it:

"What we are bringing to Mexico is not Mexican food, it's our exciting quick-service restaurant brand," said Rob Poetsch, a spokesman for Yum Brands. "We feel the timing is right, and we've done quite a bit of consumer research to validate that this goes beyond product. It's about value and convenience - that's the universal appeal."

Pop culture historian Carlos Monsivais: “Taco Bell wants to take advantage of the perception that if something comes from the U.S., it tastes better, that a country that has been Americanized is willing to Americanize food that is central to its cuisine.

“It is an absurd idea, and given that it's so absurd, it may just be successful in upper-class areas,” Monsivais added.

Also from Taco Bell:
"Taco Bell is feeding the beat by keeping bands on the road, well fed and rocking their fans across America. The 2007 class of Feed the Beat was announced today, as 50 up-and-coming bands were named to receive $500 in free Fourthmeals – the late night meal between dinner and breakfast – no strings attached. An eclectic group of bands, found after a national audition, make up this year's roster."


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Yum!'s From Hunger to Hope

Yum! Brands has teamed up with the Friends of the World Food Program for World Hunger Relief Week.

Called "World Hunger Relief Week," the program supports the United Nations World Food Programme, the frontline agency in the fight against global hunger. During October 14-20, 35,000 company and franchised restaurants located in 112 countries will be participating in some way, including KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Long John Silver's and A&W All-American Food.

The campaign, which will run from October 14th through October 20th, will increase awareness about hunger, engage volunteers, and raise critically needed funds to help WFP serve the world's areas of greatest need.

"This unprecedented and innovative campaign brings together the public and private sector to address one of the most pressing issues of our time: the world's hunger crisis," said Friends of WFP President and CEO Karen Sendelback. "Hunger is a global concern and an issue that faces each of us no matter where we live and work. Through World Hunger Relief Week, we can all make a difference to stop world hunger."
There's more information and you can donate at the "From Hunger to Hope" web site that Yum! Brands has set up.

Sure, Yum! is using a global tragedy to promote their fast food chains, but it is an important concern that needs awareness.

UPDATE: KFC announced one way their participating today:
The KFC "Honks for Hunger Relief" Tour begins on the East Coast on Oct. 11. The KFC Colonel will be driving cross-country to raise money for World Hunger Relief Week.

Each time the Colonel encounters a motorist who signals support for hunger relief with a honk of the horn, he will add a buck to the KFC bucket. Every honk means another dollar donated by KFC. The Colonel hopes to raise tens of thousands of dollars during his road trip.

Also, the From Hunger to Hope blog pointed out in comments to this blog entry that "we're not trying to promote our food in any way with this effort." I'm glad Yum! is doing something to promote awareness about hunger, but I still fail to see how The Colonel driving cross country with signs and a car plastered with KFC logos isn't promoting their food, too.

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Snake rings taco worker's bell

Pranksters at a Texas Taco Bell had drive-thru employee Bryant Simmons running for the border when they threw a 3-foot long Python at him through the drive-thru window.

Simmons has a fear of snakes and this one hit him smack in the chest. But a spokesman for the Taco Bell in Round Rock, Texas said Simmons was physically unharmed, just really shaken up.

Police are using surveillance camera footage in their search for the pranksters, described as 3 men in a truck.

And as for the snake, it turns out that an employee at a neighboring fast food restaurant, Thundercloud Subs, has 2 Pythons of her own at home, so she was able to convince police to let her take custody of the one thrown through the drive-thru window.

What is it that makes Taco Bell such a popular target for pranks?


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Taco Bell test markets breakfast menu

Thanks to a tip from Nancy's Fast Food Maven blog on Myspace, I've been reading about Taco Bell's test-marketing of a breakfast menu.

Taco Bells in the Toledo, Fresno, Tucson and Omaha markets started serving breakfast Saturday.

There are eight items on Taco Bell's new breakfast menu including a guacamole bacon grilled burrito, a sausage and bacon grilled burrito, a bacon and egg taco, Cinnamon Toastadas, and Bell breakfast potatoes.

"You can get a bagel or croissant and egg sandwich anywhere - our menu is unique and differentiated," said Toledo franchisee Don Unruh. "We got Grilled Stuft Burritos, breakfast Crunchwraps and Cinnamon Toastadas."

The menu will be offered from 6 AM to 10:30 AM.

from: Fast Food Maven, BG News, and KETV.

Labels: ,

Friday, February 23, 2007

Rats invade NYC KFC/Taco Bell

Rats have invaded a KFC/Taco Bell combo restaurant in Greenwich Village, New York City and it's the talk of the town. Local news stations have shot video of a virtual horde of rats running around the restaurant.

The restaurant has been cited in the past for rodent problems.

I can't really do the video justice with a description, so, if you've got a strong stomach, watch the video.

UPDATE: The restaurant has been closed until the rat problem, and any other health code violations, are solved (see 2nd video below).

Watch the rats (Fox 5 New York):

Watch Yum! Brands' response (parent company of Taco Bell & KFC):

Labels: ,

Friday, February 16, 2007

Taco Bell to test lettuce at the farm

Taco Bell lost $20 million last fall when they had an outbreak of e. coli at some of their restaurants in the northeastern US. 71 people in 5 states became ill. The CDC said Taco Bell's shredded lettuce was the likely source of the outbreak.

Taco Bell has now announced that they will begin "on-the-farm" testing of their lettuce.

"We have rapidly put in place farm ... testing of our lettuce supply to add another level of testing," David Novak, chairman and chief executive of Louisville-based Yum Brands Inc..

Taco Bell is one of the first companies to conduct such tests, but they have not yet announced details of the on-the-farm testing program.


Monday, February 12, 2007

BK will help farmworkers find a job

A couple years ago a boycott directed against Taco Bell convinced Taco Bell to agree to a penny-a-pound increase on tomatoes and a code of conduct that will help to penalize suppliers that abuse workers.

The same group that organized the Taco Bell boycott, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, has recently been working with Burger King on similar issues.

Burger King said it won't help boost wages for Florida farmworkers by paying more for the tomatoes on its Whopper, but it will send recruiters to help the workers find a job at one of its restaurants.

more at NewsMax

Labels: ,

Monday, December 04, 2006

E. Coli Outbreak; 8 Taco Bells Closed

UPDATE: Officials say 29 People Being Treated For E. Coli Symptoms; 18 Test Positive For Bacteria Across State

Two more Taco Bell restaurants were closed on Long Island for cleaning on Wednesday amid an outbreak of E. coli bacteria that may have sickened more than three dozen people in Nassau and Suffolk counties and dozens elsewhere around the country.

Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi said at a late-afternoon press conference that officials have confirmed three E. Coli cases and were investigating an additional 26 cases of people showing symptoms. In Suffolk County, officials reported one confirmed case on Wednesday, bringing its total to 12. Three other potential cases were being investigated across New York state.

Three patients in Nassau County remained hospitalized; at least one remained hospitalized in Suffolk.

Officials say in total, now 18 people have tested positive in New York state for the bacteria. Single cases were confirmed in Clinton, Oneida, and Otsego counties.

Taco Bell has ordered scallions removed from its 5,800 U.S. restaurants after tests suggested they may be responsible for the outbreak.

Breaking News from WCBS-TV, New York:
At least 14 people in two counties on Long Island have been affected by the recent E. coli outbreak that was first reported in central New Jersey. Officials say three people in Nassau County and 11 people in Suffolk County are being treated in the outbreak, though there is no confirmation yet as to whether the outbreak in New Jersey and the one in New York are related.

Eight Taco Bell restaurants on Long Island have temporarily shut down as part of the investigation -- four from each county. The restaurants closed voluntarily after their respective counties asked them to do so.

The four restaurants shut down in Nassau County include: 1 Broadway Mall, Hicksville; Penninsula Blvd, Hempstead; Front St, East Meadow; Roosevelt Field Mall.

CBS 2 has learned an 11-year-old boy ate at both the East Meadow and Hempstead locations and has been in the hospital for a week. According to the Nassau County Health Commissioner, none of the Nassau cases have been linked to the fatal 0157 strain, but the tests are still early.

The four Taco Bell restaurants temporarily shut down in Suffolk County include: Taco Bell at 174 Medford Ave in Patchogue; 1937 Deer Park Ave, Deer Park; 4349 Nesconset Hwy, Port Jefferson Station; 185 Old Country Rd, Riverhead.

Officials are still investigating the food distribution to see if that is the common thread, and Dr. David Graham, acting commisioner of the Suffolk Co. Health Services, says nine of the cases from that county have eaten at a Taco Bell restaurant recently.
read the whole story and watch video updates at WCBS-TV.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Taco Bell's World Series free taco promo

Taco Bell has announced that they will be offering a free taco to everyone in America if there is a left-field home run in tonight's Game 3 of the World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Detroit Tigers.

If an eligible home run is hit the free taco will be offered on November 1, 2006 between 2 pm and 5 pm.

“We can’t think of a more fitting way to celebrate America’s Favorite Pastime than by giving fans a chance of winning America’s favorite taco,” said Bill Pearce, chief marketing officer, Taco Bell Corp. “Since we haven’t given away a free taco in previous World Series promotions, we felt this was the perfect time to ‘think outside the bun’ and open up the offer to include any home run over left or left center field.”

The promotion, called "Think Outside the Park," has some detailed terms and conditions:

"Taco Bell will offer the prize identified below for ANY "home run" hit over the "left field" wall. "Left field" will be defined as the territory from straightaway center field (directly from home plate) to the left field foul pole (including the foul poll), as determined by Taco Bell in its sole discretion. For purposes of this event, an eligible "home run" is defined as a ball hit during regulation or extra innings play and is subject to the determination/designation of the official Major League Baseball scorekeeper as an official home run. If a home run is hit over the left field wall during regulation or extra innings play by any player for either team, Taco Bell will offer every person in the U.S. the opportunity to obtain one (1) free Crunchy Seasoned Beef Taco (Approximate Retail Value 77¢)."

and here's a nice little caveat for those standing in line for the free taco on November 1 (if there is a left-field home run):

"Everyone in line at a participating Taco Bell restaurant before 5:00 p.m. local time will receive a Free Taco, even if is provided after 5:00 p.m."

And by the way, Go Cardinals!

Update: With no home runs through the 6th inning, Taco Bell announced that they would expand the promotion to include any home runs (not just ones in left field), but there were no home runs. The Cardinals shut out the Tigers 5-0! Yipee!

Taco Bell got a lot of publicity out of this promotion: the sportscasters talked about it, there was signage behind home plate and kids in the crowd could be seen holding up Taco Bell posters that looked like hot sauce packets. I'm sure they paid a lot for the promotion and it didn't really matter to them whether there was a home run or not.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Taco Bell's Gordita Crunch returns

Just like something out of the great Saturday Night Live "Taco Town" sketch, Taco Bell has brought back the Cheesy Gordita Crunch.

The "Cheesy G" is "layered with chewy Gordita flatbread, a Beef Crunchy Taco and a blend of three melted cheeses in between." It will return October 16 through November 19 and will cost $1.49.

To celebrate the grodita's return, Taco Bell today announced a nationwide online search for the cheesiest pick up lines. Beginning today, fans can go to to submit their cheesiest pick-up lines for a chance to win a month’s supply of Cheesy Gordita Crunches ($50 in Taco Bell Bucks). Taco Bell will announce a winner a week for four weeks, with one grand prize winner earning the chance to win a year’s supply of Taco Bell ($350 in Taco Bell Bucks).


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Fast food industry generosity

It's been a good month for generosity in the fast food industry...

Taco Bell operators donate 10% of day’s sales to charity:
One hundred twenty-eight Taco Bell restaurants in the Northern California region participated in a one-day fundraiser Sept. 19 to benefit teen programs at local Boys & Girls Clubs. The "Taco Bell for Teens" Day awarded 10 percent of the day's proceeds, as well as a matching donation from the Taco Bell Foundation, to fund late-night recreation programs at the 12 local Boys & Girls Clubs.
Jack in the Box raises $275,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters:
The Jack in the Box Foundation held its annual charity golf tournament benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters and raised $275,000 for the non-profit organization, its primary charitable partner since 1998.
Carl's Jr. raises $300,000 for breast cancer:
Carl's Jr. announced last week that customers supporting an in-store restaurant fundraising program in May 2006 donated more than $300,00 for breast cancer awareness and support. During the month-long "Pink Star" charity promotion in May of this year, Carl's Jr. restaurant guests at nearly 1,000 locations across the western U.S. were encouraged to donate $1 to breast cancer when placing their order at the register. As a thank-you for the donation, these guests received a personalized pink Happy Star(TM) to put on display in the lobby and a coupon redeemable for a free beverage on a future visit. "We at Carl's Jr. are proud of our commitment to community involvement, and are pleased to see that commitment benefit others through this year's Pink Star breast cancer donation program," said president and chief executive officer Andrew F. Puzder.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, August 13, 2006

EXCLUSIVE: Taco Bell sauce dump video

I wrote last week about the return of a large quantity of Taco Bell 'Fire' hot sauce packets to a Taco Bell in Marion, Indiana. The event captured the attention of local and then national media. I've been in touch with an acquaintance of those involved and he has now supplied me with a video produced by those involved.

Let me say at the outset that I think the amount of attention this little prank has gotten is out of proportion with its novelty, but since I've got the facts and the video I'll present them here. (The story was picked up by AP; other coverage includes: Washington Post, Consumerist, and Fark.)

Via my contact, the perpetrators of this prank wanted to point out that despite some news reports to the contrary, those involved were not wearing masks when they entered the Taco Bell and did not intend to give the impression they were robbers.

My contact has also informed me that "the kid who was hoarding them did feel bad and returned them. I also believe that his mother said something about 'getting rid' of it," and that he does believe all this publicity "is definatly going to someone's head... I heard MTV and Dave Letterman mentioned."

As you'll be able to see in the video the prank was clearly that: a prank. It was meticulously planned out and even had a name: "Operation F.T.B" which evidently stands for Fire sauce Taco Bell.

The text of the note accompanying that was left with the bags of Fire sauce read:
"Dear Taco Bell, I bet I know what is going on in your heads right now. You may be asking questions like "Why" or "How" but I assure you I'll try to answer those in this letter. Little by little I have accumulated these packages with multiple trips to Taco Bell. It was such a gradual process of taking this sauce that we took 275 lbs of sauce right under your noses without you even noticing. We came here tonight to return to you the 25,000+ fire sauce packages that have been accumulated over the last 3 years. Please do not be angry for we have just come to return the sauce out of kindness. I have thought many nights about what to do with the sauce and I secretly stored it in the trunk of my car. I thought of selling it on ebay or even using it as a practical joke, but after much thought and consideration I finally decided to return all of the sauce to its rightful owner, Taco Bell. Thank you for your dearest understanding on this entire situation. God Bless!"
The 'reply' in a statement from Rob Poetsch, a spokesman for Taco Bell, was:
"We do appreciate this person's passion for Taco Bell. We don't encourage people to take out our sauce, but we appreciate them being so forthcoming. We're not sure what we will do with the sauce, but we will NOT be serving it to customers."
The video is 6 minutes long. It was produced by one of the pranksters. It includes footage of coverage of the incident by local TV news stations (including an interview with the Chief of Police), bad quality, night footage of the planning of the prank in a parking lot, still shots of the bags and fire sauce packets scattered across the floor of the Taco Bell, and yes, some brief video of the pranksters running into the Taco Bell shot by someone already inside.


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Fast food games on the web

I decided this would be a good post for the weekend considering it has the potential to waste hours of your time. As I've found on-line games related to fast food I've been making a list and today I'm posting them all for your weekend time-wasting pleasure:

The Fast Food Logo Game presents you with 26 partial fast food logos and challenges you to guess which restaurant they represent.

Burger Time is a Donkey Kong variant in which you direct a little chef up ladders, across beams, and over burger components to construct complete burgers before being tackled by errant hot dogs. [via A Hamburger Today]
is both a game and a disturbing look at McDonald's that I wrote about in March. It is is a satirical, 'anti-advergame' that highlights the dark-side of running a McDonald's-like fast food restaurant. The player discovers that to make money running the company you must exploit underdeveloped countries and low-wage workers and feed unhealthy growth hormones to cattle.

Fast Food Fiasco can be almost as addictive as fast food itself, without the additives! It's a traditional matching game like Bejeweled in which you have to arrange 3 identical fast food items in a row or column to score points.

Guess the Calories is exactly what it sounds like: the game presents you with a popular fast food item and you have to move the slider on the calorie scale to indicate how many calories you think it has. Hint: use Fast Food Facts or the Fast Food Facts book to cheat!

Busy Burger is an infuriating (read challenging) little animated game that requires you to prepare and bag exactly what the customer has ordered. There are only three items for customers to choose from; burgers, fries, chicken, and a drink, but fulfilling an order requires planning and coordination.

Burger Invasion is a Galaga, shoot the space ships, type game except that the space ships are burgers and what looks like croissants. It just barely qualifies as a fast food game; primarily because of its name.

Bueno Rufus features Bueno the Beaver (!) who has been hired by a Mexican fast food joint to process orders. He has to top each dish with the correct topping before they quickly zap by. You help Bueno make the right choice of toppings in the nick of time because this is fast food and Bueno needs to be on his toes!

Fast Food Follies is really a horrible game both in premise and play. I don't even know why I'm listing it except for its absurdity. It is a shoot 'em up game that takes place in a Canadian Dairy Queen. The DQ employees you're shooting at are always in the same place and the premise, that DQ is getting meat anywhere it can, is just plain weird.

Of course the big boys have created some of their own games at their respective web sites:

Taco Bell has a memory game and you can dress up their sauce packets.

There's a couple games, including Burger Invaders, at Hardee's and Carl's Jr.; just click on the video game controller on their homepages.

McDonald's has gotten in the game, too, with Shark Bait. Shark bait is a promotion game for their Filet-O-Fish sandwich that I've written about before.

If you'd prefer to go with the full PC game experience you could purchase either Fast Food Tycoon 2 or the more advanced Restaurant Empire at Amazon.

And finally, if you need a fast food game fix on your mobile phone there's Fast Food Mayhem.

Labels: ,

Thursday, August 10, 2006

25,000 stolen sauce packets returned to Taco Bell

UPDATE #2: see the Exclusive Video (and more updated info on this story)

A group of 10 to 15 people wearing masks entered a Taco Bell in Marion, Indiana around 10:45 pm on Tuesday. But it was not a hold-up.

The masked intruders brought with them six 40-gallon trash bags containing approximately 25,000 packets of Taco Bell hot sauce weighing an estimated 400 pounds.

The group left a note with their hot deposit stating that they had been accumulating them for the past three years and storing them in the trunk of a car. Apparently they'd thought about using them for a practical joke or selling them on eBay, but their consciences prompted a return.
UPDATE: The Consumerist was also contacted by the individual that left a comment here, correcting details from earlier news reports about this incident. They supplied a photo to back their claim that "1.) They were NOT wearing masks, a few had baseball caps. 2.)None of the sauce was stolen, one individual had been stockpiling extra sauce packets for 3 years in the trunk of his car. 3.) None of the people involved were over 19. 4.) There were 10 people with 11 40-gallon trash bags."


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

New 'Nacho Crunch' burrito at Taco Bell

Taco Bell will debut today it's new Nacho Crunch Grilled Stuft Burrito. This is the latest edition to Taco Bell's 'Grilled Stuft Burrito' line of burritos first introduced in 2001.

The Nacho Crunch Grilled Stuft Burrito is filled with carne asada or grilled, marinated all white meat chicken, nacho cheese sauce, beans and crunchy red tortilla strips, green onions and sour cream. It is available at participating locations for $2.99. Television ads supporting the debut announce that "crunchy makes it fun."

The new burrito has 730 Calories, 270 calories from fat, 31 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 5 grams of trans fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 1700 mg sodium, 84 grams carbs, 7 grams dietary fiber, 7 grams sugars, 29 grams protein.

Labels: ,

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Taco Bell site promotes '4th meal'

Taco Bell's Fourth Meal interactive web site promotes the concept of satisfying those late-night hunger pangs at Taco Bell.

According to Taco Bell, we need to formalize that hunger we supposedly get between dinner and breakfast and call it the Fourth Meal (and eat it at Taco Bell, of course).

The interactive site allows you to create a character you can use to stroll about in a late-night cityscape in search of "Melty, Crunchy, Spicy, Grilled" -- aka Taco Bell.

What the site fails to mention is that eating a '4th meal' late at night and right before sleep is the best way to ensure that you don't burn off any of the foods' calories!


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Condiment package expiration guide

A common site in many office break rooms and desk drawers is a collection of those little condiment packages from fast food restaurants. Since most of them don't have expiration dates, the question is: how long can they be saved and used?

To help you out, here's a little guide with the unrefrigerated shelf lives of some common Heinz condiment packages:

BBQ sauce: 9 months
Chopped onions: 7 months
Cocktail sauce: 9 months
Fat-free mayonnaise: 8 months
Horseradish sauce: 8 months
Hot taco sauce: 4 months
Ketchup: 7 months
Mayonnaise: 8 months
Mild taco sauce: 9 months
Relish: 9 months
Steak sauce: 9 months
Tabasco sauce: 8 months
Tartar sauce: 8 months
Yellow mustard: 9 months

The most common break room condiment package of all may be the Taco Bell hot sauce pack. Taco Bell says their Fire, Hot and Mild sauce packages are best when used in 120 days. They are generally in Taco Bell for no more than 30 days. [via MilwaukeeChannel]

If you're interested, Slashfood has a guide to the shelf lives of condiments you might find in your fridge at home.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Fast food not ready for self-serv after all

Apparently I was wrong. Back in March I wrote about the growing self service trend in the QSR (fast food) industry, but according to an article in the Chicago Tribune the trend has withered on the vine.

Despite self-serv taking off elsewhere (the gas pump, airline check-in, even at the Post Office) and being tested by YUM! at KFC/Taco Bell and some McDonald's in Denver, it just doesn't seem to do the trick when it comes to food service. Apparently people associate dining, even in a fast food restaurant, with personal service.

McDonald's has stopped testing the concept and a spokesman for Boink Systems, which tested its machines with Taco Bell, said the largest opportunity they are seeing now for the machines are with jails and prisons!

There are still some that insist self service fast food is the future: the companies that make the self-service kiosks. They say (and I agreed), that many customers prefer to take direct control of their order.

Previous entries about fast food service technology here were about self-serv kiosk availability (Nov. 05), kiosk implementation at Taco Bell/KFC (Feb. 06), and the self service trend in the QSR industry (Mar. 06).

Labels: ,

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Self-serve the new quick-serve?

Industry trends towards self-service at fast food restaurants may soon force the industry to reconsider the moniker 'quick-service restaurant' and replace it with 'self-service restaurant.' More and more plans are becoming apparent within the industry that seem to indicate this transition. We reported here on the self-service kiosk at a KFC/Taco Bell in North Carolina last month and on the introduction of the self-serv kiosks in November. Subway and Arby's have also experimented with self-service.

A National Restaurant Association representative said self-service "will lets consumers feel more in control because they're getting exactly what they ordered. Businesses can deploy the staff elsewhere and refocus on speeding up order delivery." But we're not really expected to believe that this trend won't cut into employment rolls are we? As for the consumer, I can see where it would be an improvement with regard to the reliability factor.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Automated ordering at Taco Bell/KFC

The appearance of self-serve kiosks and elimination of more low-wage jobs has begun. This photo was taken at a KFC/Taco Bell restaurant in Morrisville, NC.

The self-serve kiosk with an LCD touch-screen is not a supplementary way to order when lines are long at lunchtime, it is the ONLY way to order.

I'm telling you now, it won't be long before we don't interact with a human at all when we buy fast food; in the restaurant or in the drive-thru. What will future generations of kids' first McJob be? Blogging?
[via realtechnews; photo via flickr]

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Crunchwrap back for good

Taco Bell has announced they will bring back their Crunchwrap Supreme and make it a permanent member of their menu.

The Crunchwrap "takes popular Taco Bell flavors and makes them portable by wrapping it with a tortilla, creating a unique hexagon shape, sealed on all sides to avoid spills....a crunchy tostada shell, seasoned beef, warm nacho cheese sauce, lettuce, juicy tomatoes and cool sour cream. The product is wrapped in a flour tortilla and grilled to seal in all the flavors for maximum portability."

This could easily be the inspiration for the SNL Taco Time parody.


Sunday, January 15, 2006

SNL's taco mockery

I got to see one of my favorite commercial spoofs on SNL last night: "Taco Town"!! It's not just a spoof of Taco Bell, but of the entire fast food industry that has been creating bigger and bigger menu items.

You can watch the SNL parody video of this 'taco' from Taco Town: A crunchy all beef taco smothered in nacho cheese, lettuce, tomato, and special Southwestern sauce; wrapped in a soft flour tortilla with a layer of re-fried beans in between; wrapped in a savory corn tortilla with a middle layer of Monterrey jack cheese; wrapped in a deep fried gordita shell smeared with a layer of special 'guacomolito' sauce; wrapped in a corn husk filled with pico de gallo; wrapped in an authentic Parisian crepe filled with egg, gruyere, sausage and portobello mushrooms; wrapped in a Chicago-style, deep-dish, meat lover's pizza; rolled up in a blueberry pancake; dipped in batter and deep fried until it's golden brown; and served in a commemorative tote bag filled with spicy vegetarian chili.

With real items like BK's Enormous Omelet Sandwich that almost seems plausible!


Friday, December 23, 2005

Fast food's 'holiday' references

The controversy over "Happy Holidays" vs. "Merry Christmas" seems to have really heated up this year. I actually got invited to a "I'll call it a Christmas Party if I Want To" party! thrown by someone who said they're sick of all the "religious correctness." Many people are being careful not to offend; many of the 'Christmas' cards I got this year did not mention Christmas at all. And of course there's been boycotts against many retailers who've been accused by Christian groups of not including specific Christmas references in their stores, websites, and holiday marketing.

With this in mind, I decided to take a look at some fast food restaurants' web sites today, with Christmas only a day and a half away, and see what sort of 'holiday' references I might find.

The following sites had no mention of the holiday season whatsoever: Burger King, Carls Jr., Chick-fil-a, Church's Chicken, Del Taco, In-N-Out, KFC, Long John Silver's, McDonald's, Panera, and Taco Bell.

One thing about that list really surprised me. I was surprised that Chick-fil-a didn't have a "Merry Christmas" on their site, since they promote themselves as a Christian company every week by keeping their restaurants closed on Sunday.

I didn't see Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanza mentioned specifically anywhere, but here are some holiday references I did find:

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Fast-food chains try going small

Two of the biggest burger chains -- Wendy's and Burger King -- are developing restaurants with smaller kitchens and seating areas that operate profitably in small towns, cost less to build and fit into cheaper parcels of land. Popeye's is looking to follow suit, and even Applebee's, a sit-down restaurant, is looking to reduce square footage in rural area restaurants. YUM! Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, A&W and Long John Silver's) hasn't started downsizing there restaurants per-se, but they're accomplishing the same thing by putting mulitple restaurants in one location. [AP]

Labels: , , ,

Friday, August 19, 2005

Choosing the right wine to go with your fast food

How about a Leonesse Cellars 2003 white riesling with your Taco Bell Quesadilla? Or "the flowery, almost perfumelike nose of Thornton's 2004 Viognier" with KFC's Original Recipe? Vick Knight has these and other suggestions in his article in San Diego's North County Times. Knight says,"Wendy's old fashioned rectangular hamburgers and Arby's roast beef sandwiches both benefit from red wines. I'd recommend Falkner Winery's 2003 Luscious Lips," and "those who like their pizza with a glass of wine should find that Domino's Pepperoni Pizza (double pepperoni and extra cheese, please) goes well with Wilson Creek's 2001 sangiovese."

Labels: , ,

Friday, June 10, 2005

Fast food poll: Wendy's is most popular

According to a new poll by Zogby International, "nearly one-in-four (23%) American adults call fast food chain Wendy’s their favorite, with half as many preferring runners-up Taco Bell and McDonald’s (12% apiece). Burger King trailed McDonald’s and Taco Bell at 11%. Rounding out the field were KFC at 8%, and Jack in the Box and Long John Silver’s, at 3% each. Three-in-ten (29%) respondents say they either prefer no fast food restaurant or a chain not offered on the list."

Labels: , ,

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Taco Bell's chalupa images museum

First there was Mary's face on a piece of toast, then McDonald's capitalized on their french fry that looked like Abe Lincoln, now Taco Bell wants you to look for visions in their chalupas. Taco Bell's Food Sightings Museum asks you to look for images in food, especially in their chalupa shells, and submit them to their web museum. The person whose chalupa shell image receives the most votes on the site will receive a one-month supply of Chalupas.


Saturday, May 21, 2005

Farmworkers seek fast food changes

After a 4 year boycott, a farmworkers group has convinced Taco Bell to agree to a penny-a-pound increase on tomatoes and a code of conduct that will help to penalize suppliers that abuse workers. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, mostly Guatemalan or Mexican, is the group responsible for the concession. They hope to convince the rest of the fast food industry to follow suit. They have sent letters to McDonald's, Subway and Burger King executives. [CIW News & AP]

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Customer satisfaction ratings

This year's American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) ratings are out. Papa Johns came out on top, McDonald's at the bottom. Here they are with their scores and the number of points they've gone up or down since the last survey.
  1. Papa John's - 78 up 2
  2. Wendy's - 75 up 1
  3. Little Caesar - 74 up 1
  4. Taco Bell - 72 up 4
  5. Burger King - 71 up 3
  6. Domino's - 71 down 4
  7. Pizza Hut - 71 down 4
  8. KFC - 69 down 2
  9. McDonald's - 62 down 2
The ACSI "is a uniform and independent measure of household consumption experience. A powerful economic indicator, the ACSI tracks trends in customer satisfaction and provides valuable benchmarking insights of the consumer economy." It is produced at the University of Michigan.

Labels: , ,

Friday, April 29, 2005

Fast food for US troops in Middle East

Taco Bells debuts in Kuwait - Servicemembers in Iraq and Kuwait are getting another taste of home, with the opening of several Taco Bell fast food outlets at U.S. bases in the two countries.

Troops in Baghdad have it 'their way' - Baghdad, Iraq - The Army and Air Force Exchange Service's newest Burger King in Iraq opened at the International Zone with a ribbon-cutting ceremony April 12. The IZ PX food courtyard is now home to a Burger King, Pizza Inn, Gyro King and coffee shop.


Thursday, April 28, 2005

Former Taco Bell Employee Sentenced For Poisoning Officer

SANTA MARIA, Calif. (AP) - A former Taco Bell employee who poisoned a California Highway Patrol officer's food has been sentenced to nine months in jail.


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Yum Earnings Up

KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut parent Yum Brands Inc. (YUM.N: Quote, Profile, Research) on Wednesday posted higher quarterly earnings and backed its outlook for the year despite a supply-chain issue in China that is hurting profits in that market.

Net income for the first quarter rose to $161 million, or 53 cents per share, from $142 million, or 47 cents per share, a year ago.

Labels: ,