I know it has been roughly 15 years since the Crunchwrap Supreme came out, because I remember writing a poem about it while proctoring an exam when I worked in a high school. I know the Volcano Taco emerged sometime late in 2008 or early in 2009, because I remember that it was new to the scene when my friend Jake and I started the Taco Bell Wiki in a Fort Greene apartment where I only lived for 11 months. I have a general sense of when Nacho Fries first landed in the U.S., because I remember which of three different NYC offices USA Today occupied when I brought them back and which co-workers tried them when I did. And so on.
I have been writing regularly about Taco Bell for so damn long that I can mark Taco Bell stuff in time and mark time in Taco Bell stuff. It’s either depressing or exhilarating, or perhaps depressingly exhilarating.
Still, it amazed me this morning when I thought back to the dawn of the Doritos Locos Tacos era and recalled that I was in Port St. Lucie, Fla. and wrote about it here on TedQuarters.net, meaning I was still covering spring training for SNY when it happened, meaning Doritos Locos Tacos have now been a fixture on Taco Bell menus for more than eight full years. People who were in middle school are now about to graduate from college, perhaps having never really known a Taco Bell menu without the popular cross-promotional item. The Giants were Super Bowl champions the last time Doritos Locos Tacos weren’t available. Encyclopaedia Brittanica was still putting out print editions.
I bring all this up to note that, here in Year 8 ADLT, I’ve probably eaten no more than five Doritos Locos Tacos in my life, and only because I came into them somehow. They’ve become the default offering for Taco Bell giveaways, but Taco Bell giveaways are for amateurs. And, as I mentioned upon eating my first DLT more than eight years ago, I’ve just never eaten a Taco Bell crunchy taco and wished that it could be saltier and more orange.
But I’m in this content game right now, for better or worse, and it beckoned me to Taco Bell this weekend to sample one of the new Flamin’ Hot Doritos Locos Tacos. And friends, I am prepared to call the new Flamin’ Hot Doritos Locos Tacos: Pretty damn good. I’m not sure if time has altered my memories of the Flamin’ Hot DLT’s Nacho Cheese cousins, but these seemed like they had a less assertive dusting of Doritos stuff and existed at a spice level one seldom finds in Taco Bell things. It wasn’t unpleasantly hot, but the spice definitely lingered for a little while after I ate them — think Buffalo wings sold as “hot,” but not Buffalo wings sold as “atomic.”
I also ordered a Cheesy Gordita Crunch with a Flamin’ Hot Doritos Taco inside — something every Taco Bell can do for you, even if you’re not a former honorary president — and was surprised to learn that I found it, somehow: An upgrade over the standard Cheesy G, which is saying something. This particular Cheesy Gordita Crunch was poorly made — they took the flatbread out of the little heater thing before all the cheese was melted, and the spicy ranch sauce was haphazardly distributed. But compared to a traditional Cheesy Gordita Crunch of similar build quality, this offered an extra spicy kick that proved pleasant.
The only downside to the Flamin’ Hot Doritos Locos Taco is that it is red, as as such reminds me of the long-lost Volcano Taco, my one true love. But it’s good nonetheless, and I will likely have one again before it leaves menus. I endorse this Taco Bell thing.