When Taco Bell announced it was removing potatoes as part of its menu “streamlining” efforts this summer, vegetarians and nightshade fans alike cried out in agony. The potato was the chain’s “secret weapon,” and was a hearty filling for anyone who wanted to avoid meat but wanted something more than just beans and cheese. But apparently enough people yelled at Taco Bell that they are now bringing the potatoes back on March 11. Sometimes bullying works!
The Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes and the Spicy Potato Soft Taco will live más, and as before customers can substitute potatoes for the filling in any other offering. Taco Bell’s global chief food innovation officer Liz Matthews explained that because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the lack of indoor dining, the company was focused on paring down the menu so it could get customers through the drive-thru quickly. And while Matthews says the company expected some complaints about god’s own tuber, it received more than she expected. “I feel like I’ve almost heard from everybody in the country on the potato bites,” she said.
The announcement also came with this terrifying Twitter video, in which Taco Bell CEO Mark King mouth and eyes are digitally imposed on a potato. Is this some last punishment Taco Bell had to get in before giving the people what they wanted?
Taco Bell will also be rolling out a collaboration with Beyond Meat. Fast food chains have increasingly been turning to imitation meats for “vegetarian” options (even though many are made on the same griddles as meat), but the products are positioned more toward meat eaters who are searching for meat-tasting substitutes than toward vegetarians who were never seeking the taste of meat in the first place, or are actively put off by the imitation texture. “We have long been a leader in the vegetarian space, but this year, we have more meatless options in store that vegetarians, veggie-curious and even meat-eaters will love,” said Matthews in a press release.
Still, in a world that often treats vegetarian and vegan concerns as an afterthought, the return of the potatoes feels like a win. Matthews admits that the brand listens to backlash —regarding the potential return of the Mexican Pizza from Taco Bell’s menu, she said “We’re constantly listening to our customers. So, I wouldn’t pull that off the table.” Just a reminder that if you just keep pressuring those in power, they will have to do what you say eventually. Thanks for the politics lesson, Taco Bell!