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Taco Bell Menu Brings Back Its Classic Mexican Pizza (Sort Of)

It's still tasty, but...
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I am what one would call a Mexican Pizza devotee.

Since the early '90s, I would make periodic journeys to the Taco Bell closest to my house to acquire an item that transcended all definition. 

It could be breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It could be a pick-me-up after a bad date or a terrible day at work. It could be shared between friends over an episode of "My So-Called Life" or "Growing Pains."

It's hard to find the words to explain what about it has been so perfect to me over all these years. Maybe the crispy shell and the warm filling combo just hit all the right notes. But whatever it was, when the Yum! Brands (YUM) - Get Yum! Brands Inc. Report chain announced back in September 2020 that it intended to discontinue the Mexican Pizza because the packaging was wasteful and costly, I was absolutely devastated.

That said, dear reader, as a writer who frequently traverses the fast food world and the business sense behind it, I soon began to suspect that Taco Bell's move wasn't actually about packaging at all, but more a ploy to create a void that would be deeply felt by legions of Mexican Pizza lovers such as myself.

And it worked.

In fact, I was not at all surprised to hear the Mexican Pizza was making a comeback this summer with major fanfare, including plugs from Doja Cat and special promos with Doordash  (DASH) - Get DoorDash Inc. Class A Report.

But since every business decision is, in the end, about the bottom line, I wondered how the Bell might have changed its famous menu item. And one thing is for sure: it is most definitely not the same.

Taco Bell Mexican Pizza Lead JS

The New Mexican Pizza: What's Different?

While the Mexican Pizza doesn't make its full comeback at restaurants until May 19, Rewards members were able to get early access, so I set off for my local Taco Bell to check out the return of my beloved.

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What I found was that the Mexican Pizza has a whole new look--on the outside, anyway--but I instantly wondered why it was in the same box that Taco Bell made such a fuss over creating waste in the first place, further lending to my theory that the entire eco-friendly reasoning for discontinuing it was basically hogwash. 

I dropped the Bell an email to find out more, to which it replied, "Due to our fan excitement, the Mexican Pizza was returned to our menu in all its previous glory, with seasoned beef and refried beans between two fried flour tortillas, topped with pizza sauce, our 3 cheese blend and fresh diced tomatoes. Before the launch, we did our homework to ensure that local recycling infrastructure has improved, so we felt good about bringing back this in-demand product. While the Mexican Pizza’s paper-based packaging is recycle-ready, Taco Bell encourages fans to recycle responsibly and to check local regulations before recycling food packaging."

The new box also boasts a little logo that says "Est 1985," which I think is a first for any of its menu items.

But of course, the food is what we're all here to talk about, so let's get to that.

Taco Bell Mexican Pizza Lead JS

At a glance, the Mexican Pizza looks the same, although vegetarians will be happy to hear there is now a version that swaps the beef for refried beans (although to be fair, that is probably a swap you could have custom-ordered in the past).

But since Taco Bell mentioned in a press release that "the masterminds in the Taco Bell test kitchen worked to streamline operations and ingredient sourcing, and leave a lighter footprint at the same time," I expected this could mean a change in the meal I have so enjoyed over the years.

That change is the shell, which is not the one we all know and love.

This shell has less of the lip-smacking flavor of the original, and the texture has changed a bit as well. The taste was a bit more flour-heavy, and while the crunch was still there, it was not as pleasurable as the original.

In my email to Taco Bell, I asked about the changes to the shell, but the company did not reply to my questions.

The rest of the Mexican Pizza tastes about the same as I remember, from cheese to tomatoes. And while I can't say that this new one is bad or that I won't order it again, I can say that if Taco Bell cut corners by trying to make a healthier shell, I'd rather have my classic old fave back the way it was, greasy fried shell and all.