In the grand tradition of many a subscription-based food service before it, Taco Bell has announced a new way for customers to “live más:” by purchasing a pass that’s good for one taco per day for 30 days.
Aptly dubbed the Taco Lover’s Pass, the program’s $US10 ($14) buy-in grants you access to a secret menu nestled within Taco Bell’s app that will allow you to snag any one taco from a select list each day at participating locations. Here is the full list of tacos that pass holders can choose from:
Crunchy Taco Supreme
Soft Taco Supreme
Spicy Potato Soft Taco
Doritos Locos Tacos
Doritos Locos Tacos Supreme
One could certainly see the benefits of a Taco Lover’s Pass to the consumer seeking a way to stretch their dollar in these inflationary times. A single crunchy taco costs $US1.49 ($2), 30 of which would set you back $US44.70 ($62), plus any applicable sales tax. That alone makes the Taco Lover’s Pass a solid bang for the taco bargain buck. But where its utility really shines is with what some might call Taco Bell’s “premium” offerings. To procure a Doritos Locos Tacos Supreme taco per day would run upwards of $US80.70 ($113) for the month, making the Taco Lover’s Pass a veritable bargain. There are, however, other considerations.
The stuff Taco Bell sells is “food” in the same way that an Easy Bake Oven is an “oven,” which is to say, in name only. Everyone knows that eating a single Doritos Locos Taco a day can’t and won’t sustain you. It barely even makes for a meaningful snack, and it’s arguably more trouble than it’s worth to go out of your way every single day for a month to get your taco as a means to stick it to the Taco Bell man.
So what to make of this new promotion? What meaning can we divine from the swirling, systematic chaos that is paying $US10 ($14) for the privilege to walk into a Taco Bell 30 separate times, all in the name of retrieving an ultimately unsatisfying, unfulfilling taco?
Sadly, we’re forced to conclude that this is some cynical marketing scheme straight out of the Phillip Morris playbook — a sort of slippery, habit-forming taco slope covered in nacho cheese sauce. The only endgame that could possibly make giving customers 30 tacos for $US10 ($14) make sense is getting everybody addicted to the act of walking into a Taco Bell and ordering tacos — and potentially the Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes, too. (And maybe tossing in a Mountain Dew Baja Blast Freeze because does a meal without a thirst-quenching beverage even count?)
Other chains have found meaningful success in doing similar “pass” deals; Panera, for example, has a great $US8.99 ($13) per month coffee subscription package that allows customers unlimited cups of drip coffee, hot tea, and iced coffee. But it’s a lot easier to grab a cup of coffee and nothing else because people are a lot more chemically addicted to coffee and accustomed to it as a daily ritual than tacos. For now. The corporate goons at Taco Bell are undoubtedly hoping that the Crunchy Taco Supreme will alter your brain chemistry in the same way that caffeine does, and I don’t think we have any reason to doubt their ability to make that happen. Somebody check to see what they’re putting in the ground beef and report back here.