The Internet is so vast that you can’t possibly see everything. Even the most plugged-in of us can’t keep on top of every viral moment, so just imagine the things you miss because they don’t explode into the popular culture. As such, I’m not surprised that maybe you missed the announcement that Taco Bell was named America’s favorite Mexican restaurant back in early May, according to a Harris Poll EquiTrend Study.
For some reason, this study made the rounds again this weekend. The Internet responded in pretty predictable fashion, with comments ranging from “Oh hell no!” to “What’s wrong with you, America?” Which makes sense, because in a country with so many great Mexican restaurants, how does Taco Bell of all places end up being America’s favorite?
But let’s try an experiment. Set aside for a moment your gut reaction. File your outrage away with your strongly held beliefs on the correct way to hang toilet paper on a toilet paper holder. Look into your heart and ask yourself, “What is America’s favorite Mexican restaurant?” Let the Taco Bell logo glow in your mind’s eye, because you know the truth. You’ve always known the truth.
Now sure, there’s a methodology to the study that pretty easily explains how Taco Bell took the title, even though it didn’t win the last few years. They didn’t just ask thousands of random strangers to name their favorite Mexican spot; they presented a selection of options, including Chipotle and Moe’s Southwest Grill, among others. After two years of Moe’s domination—thanks in part to the various issues that Chipotle has had in the recent past—the winds of fate changed and Taco Bell took its rightful spot at the top of the rankings.
But personally speaking, I bet even if they didn’t include a list of options and simply asked thousands of strangers to name their favorite place for Mexican, odds are good that Taco Bell still would have won. They just have so much going for them compared to your favorite spot just down the street. Hell, there’s probably no bigger reason that they did come out on top than the fact that Taco Bell is everywhere. From the standalone spots to the various combo Taco Bell/[Long John Silver’s/KFC/Pizza Hut] combination stops to mall food courts to the beach, you kind of have to go out of your way to miss Taco Bell.
It’s more than just the fact that the company exists in volume. If you’ve eaten Taco Bell, you know Taco Bell, and you can pretty much count on it to taste the same no matter where you find yourself in these United States. It’s there for you in the middle of the night when Whataburger is too far away. It’s there for you when even tossing something in the microwave for dinner is too much work. It’s there for you when you’ve gone a little too hard in the paint and need something to sop up that alcohol turning your insides around.
Listen, it’s 2018, and life is far too stressful to pretend that most of us don’t love Taco Bell some kind of way. No, it’s not better than any of the “real” Mexican restaurants in town. Hell, it’s not even the best fast food chain Mexican around (that would be Taco Palenque). Dairy Queen doesn’t have the best ice cream and McDonald’s doesn’t have the best fries, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t crave what we crave from time to time. Even when that craving is Taco Bell. Even when we know better.