Fast Food Review – Taco Bell Breakfast Menu

Let me say right off the bat that I’m not one of those food snobs who looks down on the idea of Taco Bell breakfast.  It seems that most of the commentary I’ve seen on the subject comes from a place of complete contempt for the concept and for the type of person that would even consider eating there.

This isn’t that sort of review.  I like fast food.  I especially like innovative and novelty fast foods, that cheaply and conveniently bring me taste sensations that I’ve never had before.  So I was excited for Taco Bell’s breakfast menu, and I really wanted it to be good.  But unfortunately, it just wasn’t.

Waffle Taco

This is the item that people were most intrigued about.  I feel like most people expected it to be either awesome or horrible, or possibly both at once.  But the reality is neither.  It’s just bland and tasteless.  Here’s a picture:

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The biggest problem is that, despite it being called a waffle taco, there’s no waffle there.  A waffle is sweet, crispy on the outside, and fluffy in the middle.  Instead, the taco is on a vaguely waffle-shaped piece of soggy spongy flatbread with no flavor whatsoever.  The sausage is also very bland.  The eggs, cheese, and bacon are about what you would expect from fast food, but there are plenty of much better ways to eat fast food eggs/cheese/bacon.

If you’re really interested in the concept of combining sweet and savory breakfast foods, you’d be much better off with the McDonalds McGriddle.  Personally I’m not a fan of that, but at least the pancake buns taste like pancake and the sausage tastes like sausage.

A.M. Cruncwrap

This is basically a large breakfast burrito that’s shaped differently.  You already know what a breakfast burrito tastes like.  This is like that.  In terms of premium fast food breakfast burritos (or burrito-like items), it’s okay.  I prefer the Carl’s Jr. Big Country Burrito, which has chicken gravy in it, or the McDonalds McSkillet which has roasted vegetables.  But the A.M. Crunchwrap gives you what you expect, and if you order it you won’t be disappointed.

Breakfast Burrito

I hadn’t intended to review this, because a small breakfast burrito is a small breakfast burrito.  But my wife ordered it, and discovered this:

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Notice how little actual stuff there is in that burrito, compared to how much tortilla there is.  So I definitely would not order this again.  You’re much better off with the McDonalds Sausage Burrito, which is cheaper and has more filling in it.

Cinnabon Delight

Holy crap these are good. They’re basically deep-fried cinnamon donut holes filled with delicious goo. I would say this is the best desserty item offered at *any* major fast-food chain. I feel sorry for all the parts of the country that haven’t been able to enjoy these for the last few years. (They aren’t quite as good as actual Cinnabons, but they’re also only 260 calories, compared to a Cinnabon which is… holy crap! 880 calories! Yeah, I knew there was a reason I rarely eat at Cinnabon despite it being delicious.)  Note that these are available all day – not just at breakfast.

Conclusion

Speaking as a fast food fan who normally likes this sort of thing, I would not return to Taco Bell for breakfast.  The only good item is the Cinnabon Delights, which are available all day.  If you’re hungry and no other fast food places are convenient, the A.M. Crunchwrap isn’t a bad choice.  But it isn’t worth a special trip.

(Let me know in the comments if there are any other weird fast food items you would like me to review.)

On the Subjective Value of Art

On a Facebook thread I was participating in, someone asked me whether I thought there was an inherent value to a film beyond the audience’s reaction.

I found this to be such a bizarre question that it merits its own blog post.

To me, it seems obvious and self-evident that there’s no such thing as an intrinsic value to a piece of art. Artwork only has value to the extent that people value it. I can’t fathom what any other definition of artistic value would even mean.

There is, of course, no standard way to measure just how much an individual cares about a given work of art. But if there were, you could hypothetically add up how much each individual cares to get the precise total of what that artwork is worth.

If a lot of people care strongly about something, then that is a more valuable, and hence better, piece of art than something that a few people only vaguely care about.*

Note that there could be a piece of art that many people simply aren’t aware of, and would care about very strongly if they were exposed to it. Those are artworks that have the *potential* to be valuable. I would argue that the role of the critic is to steer people towards those works. (Or to steer them away from works that would be a waste of their limited time/attention/money, so they can instead focus on something they are more likely to enjoy.) But until a piece of art finds a broad audience, its value is limited to the people who have seen it and are thus able to value it.

When you are discussing “great” movies, you first have to define what you mean by “great.”  This is why I started my Movies We Still Care About series with an explanation of the definition I was using.

It would certainly be reasonable for someone to include obscure movies that people would love if only they knew about them in his definition of “great.”  (Even though I didn’t in my definition.)

But there are quite a few pieces of art, and film in particular, which are beloved by critics but rejected by mainstream audiences even after the audience is aware of them. At that point, it becomes silly to call these “great” movies. Rather, they are niche movies that only appeal to a limited demographic, with that demographic being “snooty film snobs.”

There’s nothing inherently wrong with niche movies. They are enjoyed by the people who enjoy them. Snooty film snobs are still people, and while their opinions shouldn’t count more than the average person, they also shouldn’t count less.

But it’s silly to proclaim that there’s something wrong with the majority of people who fail to share that niche taste.

A movie is great because people think it’s great. No other definition makes sense.

As to how you go about making a movie that people will think is great, that’s a much more complicated and difficult question. So difficult that the best filmmakers in the world will still fail most of the time.

But when they succeed, it sure is something special.

* Things get more complicated when you try to compare something that a smaller amount of people care about strongly to something that a larger amount of people care about weakly. What’s the aggregate value of an episode of NCIS compared to an episode of Game of Thrones? Without a clear way to measure how much people care about something, there’s no meaningful way to compare the 6 million people that are highly engaged with Game of Thrones to the 17 million people who are for the most part less engaged with NCIS. (Those are the US numbers for the most recent episodes.) Of course if you’re a Game of Thrones fan like me, you think Game of Thrones is obviously better than NCIS.  But it’s not so obvious why your opinion should count more than the larger number of people who watch NCIS and not Game of Thrones.