Eating Badly: Taco Bell’s new "Grilled Stuft Nacho"

2013-12-31T21:00:00Z Eating Badly: Taco Bell’s new "Grilled Stuft Nacho"By JIM VOREL H&R Staff Writer Herald-Review.com
December 31, 2013 9:00 pm  • 

Perhaps the highest accolade I can pay to Taco Bell is that no other fast-food chain has TV advertisements that actually cause me to call others in the room to verify what I’m witnessing. That’s the experience of seeing a new Taco Bell product revealed during a commercial break — I feel the need for others to corroborate my findings. And even then, there’s a grain of doubt in the back of my mind saying “Jim, what if you’re the only one who can see the grilled nacho? This could be like the McDonald’s lutefisk burger all over again.”

This time around, though, I’m fairly sure the new product is real. I went to Taco Bell this weekend and consumed something I’m told was a Grilled Stuft Nacho (singular), so at the very least, Taco Bell employees are responding positively to the terminology. All signs point to this not being a case of mass hysteria.

As far as I can tell, the premise of this new product is essentially “the essence of nachos, to go.” It starts with a triangular tortilla shell, crudely formed into a shape reminiscent of a nacho chip, and then grilled. Inside, Taco Bell says, one will find “seasoned beef, warm nacho cheese sauce, our new zesty nacho sauce, crunchy red strips and cool reduced-fat sour cream.”

Ah, five ingredients, and three of them with the consistency of glue. What could go wrong? “At least the ‘crunchy red strips’ of … something … will keep it from being too much of a mess,” I reasoned. Incorrect. So very incorrect.

Chalk this up as another entry in Taco Bell’s ongoing policy to introduce “new products” every month that are simply semi-novel mish-mashes of the existing ingredients already found in Taco Bell locations nationwide. It’s a thoroughly pointless item, because there isn’t a thing about it that customers couldn’t get better from an actual nacho item or a simple burrito filled with the exact same ingredients.

The problems all start with how awkward it is to eat. Look at the above press photo, and you’ll see a tortilla that has been immaculately folded, apparently bursting with its beef and cheese filling. In actuality, the Grilled Stuft Nacho I was served in Decatur had dimensions identical to a Taco Bell quesadilla, minus the “effective wrapping” part. Two bites in, the thing began to unfold itself, spilling its meager contents. In fact, the tortilla wrapper was never big enough to even close itself fully. The idea that you could be walking (or running, in the TV commercial) down the street with this thing is laughable. Do you know what WOULD work for walking, though? A regular container of nachos, given that it has a plastic bed to rest on. It takes advantage of a startling new development in food-carrying technology that researchers are referring to as “plate theory.”

In terms of taste, if you like Taco Bell then you already know what to expect. It has a bit of that confusing burned flavor that grilled Taco Bell tortillas have for some reason, despite being clearly not burned. There’s a bit of the trademark Taco Bell “beef,” followed up by tons of cheese sauce. Interestingly, I didn’t even notice the “new zesty nacho sauce” on mine, as I didn’t read the product description until beginning this blog post. Was it even on there? The fact that I have no clue should give you some idea of how notable this new addition is.

Health-wise, it packs a big wallop into something that only costs $1.29, with 570 calories, 32 g of fat, 7 g of saturated fat and 960 mg of sodium. That’s almost exactly equivalent to a Big Mac, for only 30 percent of the price.

So there you have it, the Grilled Stuft Nacho’s greatest contribution to the fast-food market: The most unhealthy way you can spend $1.29.

jvorel@herald-review.com|(217) 421-7973

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