Someone told me the Volcano Taco no longer exists, so I hiked to my nearest Taco Bell to investigate. I’ve been trying to eat healthier of late, but I figured the two-mile walk would more than mitigate the damage done by a single taco.
My nearest Taco Bell pumps classic rock music all the time, which always seems out of place in the middle of East Harlem. Tom Petty’s “Running Down the Dream” was cranking when I walked in. Speaking of which:
“Do you still make Volcano Tacos?” I asked nonchalantly, as if it were a casual curiosity and not a pointed inquiry. I try to play it cool at Taco Bell and act as if I’m not in the 99.999th percentile of human beings in terms of Taco Bell knowledge. I don’t really know why. I guess I don’t want to embarrass myself in front of the Taco Bell employees.
“We don’t,” said the woman at the register. She stepped back and pointed toward a sign advertising the new Fiery Doritos Locos Taco. “If you’re looking for something similar, I could-”
I cut her off. I’m certainly interested in knowing how the new Doritos Locos Taco tastes, but I don’t particularly want one. Healthier eating means a far smaller monthly quota for Taco Bell items, and I’ve been so underwhelmed by both the Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos that I don’t want to waste any of my very limited Taco Bell intake on more Doritos Locos Tacos.
“Nah,” I said, shaking my head. “Could you–”
“You could get a regular taco with the same sauce,” she said.
“With the Lava Sauce, yeah,” I said, accidentally exposing that I’m aware it’s called Lava Sauce, prompting a fleeting moment of embarrassment before I remembered that I’m not at all ashamed to know that.
“So a regular Crunchy Taco plus Lava Sauce,” she repeated, pounding away at the register. There are buttons for that. We’re in the clear.
A few minutes later, I ate what tasted exactly like a Volcano Taco, containing all the same ingredients. The red taco shell is no longer available, but that was just a novelty anyway, gone the way of the Black Jack Taco shell because Taco Bell’s current gimmicky shell thing is making them out of Doritos, not giving them different colors.
As to that: Whatever. They’re not my thing, but clearly they’re popular, and anything that helps keep Taco Bell flourishing is fine by me. Plus, the burgeoning relationship between Taco Bell and Frito-Lay seems like a step toward global Taco Bell dominance, winning the Restaurant Wars and all that.
Plus, at some point, Taco Bell’s going to start making taco shells out of other snack chips, which should get interesting. How about a pretzel taco? I could get down with that.
As for the Volcano Taco, it joins the pantheon of great retired Taco Bell items like the Bacon Cheeseburger Burrito. It will exist forever in our memories, a reminder of the transitional era in which Taco Bell first started toying with taco shells but before they started covering them with Dorito stuff. And the Taco Bell lifehackers among us will know that we can taste the Volcano Taco whenever we want by adding Lava Sauce to a Crunchy Taco, even if that adds an element of entropy that makes the Taco Bell significantly more likely to screw up your order than if you could just ask for a Volcano Taco.
I walked out to the boring thump of “25 or 6 to 4” by Chicago, a band inspired by the Beatles’ “Got to Get You Into My Life” to fuse rock music with a horn section, and one that enjoyed great commercial success while making largely terrible music. Sometimes good ideas pay off even when poorly executed. Taco Bell powers forward.