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  #1  
Old 08-11-2006, 01:42 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Taco Bell's original menu

I remember my first visit to Taco Bell, circa 1976. What an experience for a seven year old! Stucco walls! Red brick floors and a patio/plaza surrounded by a low wall. It was another country!

Everything was new and strange. The people working the counter took your order by noting your choices with a grease pencil on a wipe board bolted above the arched ordering alcove. As you ordered each item, you specified "spicy" or "mild" (this was before the little square tubs of hot sauce and long before the current flat packets). How considerate.

But they were very helpful -- above the coutner was a colourful menu, complete with large pictures and pronunciation guides -- (TAH-coh), (burr-REE-toe). There were only about nine or so items available. Help me try to recollect the original Taco Bell menu of the mid-1970s:

- Taco
- Burrito: Bean, Beef, or Combo
- Enchirito
- Frijoles (now known as pintos and cheese)
- Tostada
- Bell Beefer (a Mexican sloppy-joe burger!)

Is that all? Can anyone recall the whole menu?

There were no soft tacos, not chalupas, no gorditas (I don't even know what chalupas and gorditas are), no fajitas, no double decked anything, no supreme anything, no special sauces. No chicken. Just beans, beef, cheese, lettuce, and that heavenly red sauce.
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  #2  
Old 08-11-2006, 01:50 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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Mmmmmm....enchiritos! Always my favorite.

Actually, that's all I remember from the original Taco Bell. I've been going to them since they started, and that's a long time.
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  #3  
Old 08-11-2006, 02:20 PM
Hey, It's That Guy! Hey, It's That Guy! is offline
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I remember when they were first starting a big nationwide push in the late '80s -- at least that's when they started rising to prominence in South Florida, where I'm from. They had several TV commercials with the likes of Willie Nelson and Little Richard singing about Taco Bell, and the majority of their items were on three separate menus, priced at 59, 79, and 99 cents. Those were the days!
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  #4  
Old 08-11-2006, 02:21 PM
stpauler stpauler is offline
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I don't know if it was on the original menu, but I remember cinnamon crispas from long, long ago.
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  #5  
Old 08-11-2006, 02:29 PM
Queen Tonya Queen Tonya is offline
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I think the tortilla chips and cheesy sauce had to be among the first additions to the menu, no?

[nostalgia]
Taco Bell's burrito supreme was how I first got the courage to try sour cream. I had a student teacher in my third grade class who took me to lunch there one day, circa 1978. She ordered one and of course I wanted to be just like her so I bravely asked for the same, even though the sour cream we had at home had always seemed gross. I mean, we throw milk away when it sours, what's up with purposefully sour cream?
It was the best burrito of my entire life, and the rest is history.
[/nostalgia]
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  #6  
Old 08-11-2006, 02:31 PM
Spiff Spiff is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acsenray
Just beans, beef, cheese, lettuce, and that heavenly red sauce.
And lard. Don't forget the lard.
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  #7  
Old 08-11-2006, 02:39 PM
NDP NDP is offline
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I'll go one better than the menu. Does anybody remember the old Taco Bell commercials that ran sometime in the late 60's and early 70's? They were animated and featured a dragon (or maybe it was a dinosaur) and a Taco Bell employee extolling the goodness of whatever specific Taco Bell menu item the particular ad was promoting. At the end of each ad, after the announcer told you where your closest local Taco Bell was, you'd see the dragon (or dinosaur) eat a Taco Bell restaurant building.
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  #8  
Old 08-11-2006, 02:50 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Queen Tonya
I think the tortilla chips and cheesy sauce had to be among the first additions to the menu, no?
I think liquid cheese was a pretty late addition to the ingredients list, probaly with that first 59-79-99 national advertising push.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Bad Voodoo Lou
I remember when they were first starting a big nationwide push in the late '80s -- at least that's when they started rising to prominence in South Florida, where I'm from. They had several TV commercials with the likes of Willie Nelson and Little Richard singing about Taco Bell, and the majority of their items were on three separate menus, priced at 59, 79, and 99 cents. Those were the days!
From my perspective, this is when Taco Bell started going down hill. I think this is when they started using microwave ovens to heat the tortillas -- since then the tortillas have been stretchy and gummy instead of like real tortillas.
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  #9  
Old 08-11-2006, 02:51 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NDP
I'll go one better than the menu. Does anybody remember the old Taco Bell commercials that ran sometime in the late 60's and early 70's? They were animated and featured a dragon (or maybe it was a dinosaur)
This is before my time. The first commercials I remember featured the slogan "Taca-taca-taca-taca-taca-taca Taco Bell!" and these came out several years after I started eating there.
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  #10  
Old 08-11-2006, 02:53 PM
hajario hajario is offline
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I remember the pronouciation guide but had totally forgotton about the yellow grease pencil.

All of them used to have natural gas fire pits out front. Then the Energy Crisis happened and much was made of them not using the fire pits anymore.
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  #11  
Old 08-11-2006, 03:18 PM
xizor xizor is offline
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Five items were on the original Taco Bell menu - tacos, beans, bean burritos, tostadas and Bell burgers. The first taco sold for 19 cents.
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  #12  
Old 08-11-2006, 03:46 PM
AHunter3 AHunter3 is online now
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I worked at Taco Bell (very very briefly, I wasn't fast enough) in 1976 in Los Alamos NM.

Yeah, the Bellbeefer was called a Bellburger. The Enchiritos had black olives on top as well as sour cream back then (and they were bigger). The tostadas were also bigger, btw.

There was a green sauce as well as the mainstream red sauce for the burritos but customers had to ask for it. It was actually around on into the 80s but I assume it's long gone, since they never advertised its existence.

The "Pintos and Cheese" was called a Frijole (as if you were getting a single solitary bean). Oh, and it was bigger (deeper container).

Bean items sold for 40; tacos were 45; I've forgotten how much beef and combo burritos and enchiritos were, but a notch above the other prices.

Our own Taco Bell, independent of any decision made by the chain, stocked up on Morton's hot sauce and gave it out as a substitute for Taco Bell hot sauce to people who wanted something hotter.
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  #13  
Old 08-11-2006, 04:02 PM
Stuffy Stuffy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acsenray
I think liquid cheese was a pretty late addition to the ingredients list, probaly with that first 59-79-99 national advertising push.



From my perspective, this is when Taco Bell started going down hill. I think this is when they started using microwave ovens to heat the tortillas -- since then the tortillas have been stretchy and gummy instead of like real tortillas.

Say what? Taco Bell doesn't use a microwave for any of it's items. They use steamer trays. Even the newer items like the mexican pizza uses a steamer oven.
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  #14  
Old 08-11-2006, 04:05 PM
samclem samclem is offline
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According to a 1966 newspaper story, all the items on the menu in 1966 sold for 19 cents each. In 1966, there were 50 in CA. and 11 in AZ.

I saw one advertised in Texas in 1968, New Mexico in 1969. First mention of outside of that area was a West VA. paper in 1969. There were 500 of them at that point.
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  #15  
Old 08-11-2006, 04:05 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AHunter3
The "Pintos and Cheese" was called a Frijole (as if you were getting a single solitary bean). Oh, and it was bigger (deeper container).
And you got broken taco shells with it! Ah, memories.
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  #16  
Old 08-11-2006, 04:07 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stuffy
Say what? Taco Bell doesn't use a microwave for any of it's items. They use steamer trays. Even the newer items like the mexican pizza uses a steamer oven.
Well something changed to make the tortillas gummy.
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  #17  
Old 08-11-2006, 04:14 PM
Stuffy Stuffy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acsenray
Well something changed to make the tortillas gummy.

If I had to guess, I'd say mass production. When I worked there the tortillas came in plain clear packages there were kept in the freezer for days.
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  #18  
Old 08-11-2006, 04:17 PM
dalej42 dalej42 is offline
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[QUOTE=AHunter3]There was a green sauce as well as the mainstream red sauce for the burritos but customers had to ask for it. It was actually around on into the 80s but I assume it's long gone, since they never advertised its existence./QUOTE]

I've seen the green sauce at some of the restaurants as recently as 2004. I used to live across the street from a Taco Bell and ate there far too regularly.
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  #19  
Old 08-11-2006, 04:23 PM
Bobotheoptimist Bobotheoptimist is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AHunter3
There was a green sauce as well as the mainstream red sauce for the burritos but customers had to ask for it. It was actually around on into the 80s but I assume it's long gone, since they never advertised its existence.
You can still get the green sauce, at least in Colorado - order your burrito "spicy". For 15 (or maybe it's 25 now) cents you can get a little tub of the stuff, looks like about 2 tablespoons, to pour on your nachos.
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  #20  
Old 08-11-2006, 04:32 PM
ddgryphon ddgryphon is offline
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No authoratative site, but there's this:

http://www.randlfoods.com/Taco%20Bell%20Facts.htm
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  #21  
Old 08-11-2006, 04:36 PM
Chanteuse Chanteuse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acsenray
Well something changed to make the tortillas gummy.
I remember the old tortillas as being very thin and paperlike. I was very glad when they changed to a softer, slightly thicker tortilla. Of course, I like a little chewiness to my tortillas--they're more like the ones I've made myself.

Damn, now I wish I could remember the recipe, because those suckers are GOOD!
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  #22  
Old 08-11-2006, 09:22 PM
Backwater Under_Duck Backwater Under_Duck is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NDP
I'll go one better than the menu. Does anybody remember the old Taco Bell commercials that ran sometime in the late 60's and early 70's? They were animated and featured a dragon (or maybe it was a dinosaur) and a Taco Bell employee extolling the goodness of whatever specific Taco Bell menu item the particular ad was promoting. At the end of each ad, after the announcer told you where your closest local Taco Bell was, you'd see the dragon (or dinosaur) eat a Taco Bell restaurant building.
It was a dinosaur. And as he ate up the little Taco Bell building (shaped in classic "Alamo" mission style) he would say, in a heavy cartoon accent - sounding as much like Boris Badenov as Jose Jimenez, "It's nice to eat.... Taco Bell."
I still say that every time I think of T.Bell.
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  #23  
Old 08-11-2006, 09:54 PM
samclem samclem is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Backwater Under_Duck
It was a dinosaur. And as he ate up the little Taco Bell building (shaped in classic "Alamo" mission style) he would say, in a heavy cartoon accent - sounding as much like Boris Badenov as Jose Jimenez, "It's nice to eat.... Taco Bell."
I still say that every time I think of T.Bell.
I'd be curious to know if that was a national ad or just early on in CA. and the West.
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  #24  
Old 08-11-2006, 10:16 PM
dalej42 dalej42 is offline
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Back in the early 90s, Taco Bell used to have 39 cent menu items. They were fiesta sized, mini versions of the regular item. I always had some at home in my fridge. Yum!
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  #25  
Old 08-11-2006, 11:26 PM
CaveMike CaveMike is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Bad Voodoo Lou
I remember when they were first starting a big nationwide push in the late '80s -- at least that's when they started rising to prominence in South Florida, where I'm from. They had several TV commercials with the likes of Willie Nelson and Little Richard singing about Taco Bell, and the majority of their items were on three separate menus, priced at 59, 79, and 99 cents. Those were the days!
Do you remember the ads leading up to Little Richard? They had some white, bearded guy singing and playing piano while being pulled on trailer. The song and prices were 39, 59, 79. They started getting popular, so they notched up the prices and "invested" in the wax-faced Little Richard. For some weird reason, I always felt bad for the original guy. He was the voice and face of Taco Bell when they needed him, then they dumped him when they hit it big. Ah Lady Bell, you are a fickle woman.
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  #26  
Old 08-11-2006, 11:59 PM
NDP NDP is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Backwater Under_Duck
It was a dinosaur. And as he ate up the little Taco Bell building (shaped in classic "Alamo" mission style) he would say, in a heavy cartoon accent - sounding as much like Boris Badenov as Jose Jimenez, "It's nice to eat.... Taco Bell."
I still say that every time I think of T.Bell.
I'm glad somebody remembers those ads better than I can. I tried Google to find out more about them but came up empty.

Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem
I'd be curious to know if that was a national ad or just early on in CA. and the West
I'm pretty sure those commercials aired mainly on the West Coast since I saw them when I was living in Sacramento around 1969 which is before Taco Bell franchises went nationwide.
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  #27  
Old 08-12-2006, 05:10 AM
HubZilla HubZilla is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaveMike
Do you remember the ads leading up to Little Richard? They had some white, bearded guy singing and playing piano while being pulled on trailer. The song and prices were 39, 59, 79. They started getting popular, so they notched up the prices and "invested" in the wax-faced Little Richard. For some weird reason, I always felt bad for the original guy. He was the voice and face of Taco Bell when they needed him, then they dumped him when they hit it big. Ah Lady Bell, you are a fickle woman.
I was living in Hawaii at that time (okay, still am), and the 39 cents stuff cost 79 cents. The other funny thing (more recently) is Carl's Junior's $6 burger cost more than $6!!

Not that these kind of posts garner too much sympathy, besides the usual "shut up, you live in Hawaii"
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  #28  
Old 08-12-2006, 05:28 AM
Eleusis Eleusis is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AHunter3
The Enchiritos had black olives on top as well as sour cream back then (and they were bigger).
Oh man was I pissed when they stopped using black olives. I always ordered extra, and then bang! No black olives for you!
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  #29  
Old 08-12-2006, 07:19 AM
Ivan-Osokin Ivan-Osokin is offline
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Mods - please delete link if there are any copyright issues.

A quick youtube search brought this up:

1983 commercial

Quite different from their current ad campaigns. Seems vaguely familiar to me - I would have been 11 or 12 years old at the time if the 1983 date is right.
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  #30  
Old 08-12-2006, 11:56 AM
DaveRaver DaveRaver is offline
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"I'm in this dumb hotel, near the Taco Bell, without a hope in hell, I can't believe that I'm still around"

- Supertramp "Gone Hollywood" (circa 1979)
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  #31  
Old 08-12-2006, 11:34 PM
Jeffr062 Jeffr062 is offline
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This is interesting but my first brush with Mexican fast food was;

Zantigo, nothing more than 99 cents, nothing less than delicous!
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  #32  
Old 08-13-2006, 12:30 PM
blondebear blondebear is offline
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Back in the early 80's there was a Taco Bell just over the fence from my apartment. My roommate, who worked evenings, got home right around the time TB was closing up for the night. He occasionally bought something, but mostly, he asked for (and got) whatever they were going to throw out...there were always at least a couple of tacos or burritos sitting on the warming trays. He pretty much lived on Taco Bell for about 2 years.
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  #33  
Old 08-13-2006, 12:43 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acsenray
Taco Bell's original menu
The flesh of captive warriors sacrificed to Huitzilopochtli, stewed with chili peppers and squash. Betcha didn't know the chain was that old! In those days, they called it "Teotihuacabiloctli" (banqueting temple of the artery-hardening victuals).
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  #34  
Old 08-13-2006, 04:25 PM
Cisco Cisco is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Bad Voodoo Lou
the majority of their items were on three separate menus, priced at 59, 79, and 99 cents. Those were the days!
I remember the (girl singing) fiftynine-seventynine-nine-ty-nine!!! commercials from 1993/'94 and thinking that was expensive, as I'm sure their tacos were 29 or 39 cents up until then (maybe I lived in a cheaper part of the country?)

Before those commercials I remember the "Border Buster" (big, reusable cup) and Run for the Border commercials.
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  #35  
Old 08-13-2006, 04:35 PM
Mahaloth Mahaloth is offline
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I remember when the Mexican Pizza was first introduced and it was called the "Pizazz Pizza". Anyone else remember that?
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  #36  
Old 08-13-2006, 04:57 PM
levdrakon levdrakon is offline
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When I was a kid the only place I knew to get Taco Bell was back on the West Coast, so every time I went back to visit San Diego, the very first place I'd have mom take me was TB. I'd always get a taco & a tostada. For my third item either a burrito or Bell Burger. God, I can't believe I used to love Bell Burgers. I still love everything else though.

Later in the late 70's a TB opened up where I was living in Wisconsin. Yay! Even better, I dated a girl who worked there and she'd get me free stuff sometimes. Yah again!

I love the regular tostadas. IIRC, you could get guacamole on it for a small extra charge. The last time I was there I ordered a tostada and got this soft folded up thing that was gross. Do they not have the old-fashioned tostadas anymore? That would depress me.
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  #37  
Old 08-13-2006, 05:21 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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No more tostadas, not even special order. They stopped carrying the flat tortillas for them a few years ago.
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  #38  
Old 08-13-2006, 05:26 PM
Cisco Cisco is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silenus
No more tostadas, not even special order. They stopped carrying the flat tortillas for them a few years ago.
It's been so long since I ordered a tostada at Taco Bell that I can't say whether or not they stopped carrying the flat tortillas for a time, but I'm 100% sure they have them now. They're in TB's current big-push item, the crunchwrap supreme.
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  #39  
Old 08-13-2006, 05:42 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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AAMOF, they are. I wonder if that means they're back on the special request menu?
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  #40  
Old 08-13-2006, 05:56 PM
levdrakon levdrakon is offline
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This is definitely going to require an investigatory trip to the local TB. Their main website doesn't list tostadas, but some personal websites claiming to be up-to-date do.

No, no. It's okay. I'm willing to do this in the name of fighting ignorance.
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  #41  
Old 10-19-2012, 12:04 AM
Robbie55555 Robbie55555 is offline
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Old menu

I remember the Tostada Supreme as being my favorite, but you didn't want to get it to go, because its contents would be all over the inside of the box by the time you got it home. I use to eat them in 30 seconds and boy were they great!
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  #42  
Old 10-19-2012, 12:20 AM
Happy Lendervedder Happy Lendervedder is offline
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I remember how positively life-changing it was for me when Taco Bell introduced the Pizzazz, now known as the Mexican Pizza. Haven't had one in years, but this was my go-to TB item for years.

I also feel like the Pizzazz was the gateway to the ridiculously wide variety of menu items.
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  #43  
Old 10-19-2012, 09:41 AM
ministryman ministryman is offline
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Originally Posted by stpauler View Post
I don't know if it was on the original menu, but I remember cinnamon crispas from long, long ago.
Not on the original menu. My first visit to TB was in the late 60s.

Miss that damn enchirito.

As for the burritos, you could have them red or green (sauce).
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  #44  
Old 10-19-2012, 10:01 AM
mambocrow mambocrow is offline
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I remember going to a Taco Padre in 1969 in the Los Angeles area (Van Nuys maybe). I think Taco Bell and Taco Padre were connected at one time. The buildings and decor were the same for both. All items on the Taco Padre menu were 17 cents. The menu choices were hard taco, burrito (beans or beef), and refried beans.
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  #45  
Old 10-19-2012, 10:05 AM
AncientHumanoid AncientHumanoid is offline
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Big Red Soda was one of our drink choices on early 80s visits to the Bell. Nasty aftertaste, way too sweet, left my mouth feeling gummy, but I loved it with greasy tacos.

I remember, too, Jack-in-the-Box had some REALLY greasy tacos available. (Houston, 1970s)
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  #46  
Old 10-19-2012, 10:09 AM
running coach running coach is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy Lendervedder View Post
I remember how positively life-changing it was for me when Taco Bell introduced the Pizzazz, now known as the Mexican Pizza. Haven't had one in years, but this was my go-to TB item for years.

I also feel like the Pizzazz was the gateway to the ridiculously wide variety of menu items.
And still using the same five ingredients.
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  #47  
Old 10-19-2012, 10:48 AM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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I missed the enchirito in 2006 and I still miss it today.
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  #48  
Old 10-19-2012, 11:10 AM
iftheresaway iftheresaway is offline
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Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan View Post
I missed the enchirito in 2006 and I still miss it today.
It's on the menu - I just had my first one ever this week.
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  #49  
Old 10-19-2012, 11:18 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Sigh. Me too.
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  #50  
Old 10-19-2012, 11:29 AM
Dogzilla Dogzilla is offline
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I've already had my Taco Bell ration for the week, but this thread -- foolishly read just before lunch -- is making me seriously consider a second run to the border in about 45 minutes.
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