Courtesy of Taco Bell
Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza is back on the menu, but the saga surrounding its return continues. The chain insists that the cult-favorite menu item — which spent a year and a half off the menu — is as good as it ever was, but some diehards disagree.
To recap, in September 2020, the Tex-Mex chain announced that, among other cuts, they were axing the Mexican Pizza effective November 5. Whether expected or not, fans flipped out: A month later, a petition to save the menu item had reached over 100,000 signatures. Celebrities such as Doja Cat and Dolly Parton demanded its return as well. Promotional opportunities were seen, pleas were heard, and, last month, the chain announced the Mexican Pizza would return to the general public on May 19 — with a Mexican Pizza musical to follow on May 26.
Fans have now had about a week to fulfill their 18-month-long craving, so you'd think they'd be satisfied. But some people aren't as happy as they could be: They believe the Mexican Pizza recipe has changed.
For instance, writing for The Street, Colette Bennett — a self-proclaimed "Mexican Pizza devotee" — stated that she believed the "shell has less of the lip-smacking flavor of the original, and the texture has changed a bit as well," leaving a product that "was not as pleasurable as the original."
Over on Reddit, some similar accusations: "They made a change I can't put my finger on," someone posted to the Taco Bell subreddit. Multiple commenters suspected the shell: "They're flatter/thinner, crispier and closer to a corn tortilla than the old ones," one user responded. "The originals were lighter and flakier and didn't taste like corn tortillas"
So we put the question directly to Taco Bell: Is the new Taco Bell Mexican Pizza somehow different from the one the chain retired?
A Taco Bell spokesperson confirmed the menu item hadn't changed, but at the same time, the accompanying statement wasn't particularly emphatic. "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 three cheese blend and fresh diced tomatoes," they wrote.
But here's an additional ripple: If you dig back to Taco Bell's press release from April 18 announcing the pizza's imminent return, the chain included an interesting aside. "Saucy fan pleas alone aren't all it took to get the Mexican Pizza back to menus," they explained, "as the masterminds in the Taco Bell test kitchen worked to streamline operations and ingredient sourcing."
This statement would seem to imply that things did change, as subtle as those changes may be, with the preparation and the base ingredients. Ideally, these changes shouldn't be noticeable, but maybe those with a refined Mexican Pizza palate can sense something is up?
Asked about this specific statement, the Taco Bell spokesperson repeated that no ingredients were changed in the Mexican Pizza. And despite being pressed about whether the sourcing of ingredients was changed, they still referred back to the original statement.
In the end, no two food items are completely identical. Mexican Pizzas aren't made out of plastic by a machine; each one is assembled by a person using ingredients that can have natural variation. As a result, any two Mexican Pizzas can be slightly different whether they were made 18 months apart or 18 minutes apart. And so if Taco Bell says the Mexican Pizza hasn't changed, well, then the intention appears to be that it shouldn't have… even if it has.