It’s irritating me lately that some companies are trying to get the hype from putting out weird foods without delivering the goods.
If you’re like me (especially if you’re like me), you get stories shared with you all the time on Facebook about some weird, limited-edition item or another. The latest was that Pringles was selling an eight-course Thanksgiving meal in a box — eight different kinds of flavored chips inspired by the holiday table, from turkey to green bean casserole to pumpkin pie.
Sounds perfect, right? But when reading the fine print of the article was it revealed that the Pringles Thanksgiving Dinner isn’t available to the public, and the company sent a few copies to the media elite to try. As a man of the people (and someone who was apparently not one of those “elite”), I am outraged. Let my people snack!
Another trick is for a fast-food restaurant to test out a new product in one market, usually in the Midwest or the South. But they’re not really wondering what diners in Oxnard or Duluth think of their new product. They’re wondering if articles about the product will generate buzz nationwide.
For example, you may have seen that Taco Bell was testing a Kit Kat Quesadilla, called a “Chocoladilla,” in some of its stores in Wisconsin, for a limited time. Except I couldn’t find any Taco Bell in the Madison area that was actually serving them. And, despite dozens of national articles about it, I couldn’t find a single person on Twitter or Instagram who had found it in a Wisconsin Taco Bell. Was it all a big hoaxadilla?
One thing that may be working against the notion of the Chocoladilla going nationwide is that “ladilla” can mean “crab lice” in Spanish. So “chocoladilla” roughly translates as “chocolate crab lice.” Good luck with that, marketing people.
A road trip to Milwaukee last weekend for a live taping of the “My Brother, My Brother and Me” comedy podcast gave me a chance to see if I could find one before the show. The timing was even more ideal since MBMBaM has a recurring feature called “Munch Squad,” in which the brothers dissect hilariously bad press releases from fast-food restaurants. At Sunday’s Milwaukee show, I learned that if you get fired from your job and publicly plead on LinkedIn for a free Whopper from Burger King, they’ll send you a coupon in about six months.
So on our way into town, my intrepid road pals and I stopped at a Taco Bell on Milwaukee’s west side. The bad news: It did not sell Kit Kat Chocoladillas. The good news: It sold a similar dessert called a “Caramel Chocoladilla.”
I didn’t see much media play around the Caramel Chocoladilla, although some media reports claimed that Taco Bell was also selling a Twix Chocoladilla with caramel inside. But this wasn’t that.
The three of us ordered dinner and Chocoladillas, which were each only a dollar. That seemed to be the right price point for a small, flat, foil-wrapped tortilla.
I opened up the tortilla. This was a mistake. Don’t do this.
Inside was a nauseating-looking mix of chocolate sauce, chocolate chips, caramel sauce, caramel chips and, for some reasons, a single piece of red bell pepper. Even weirder was that when my two companions opened theirs up, they also each had a single piece of bell pepper.
So weird! Was this the secret signature of the cook, who puts a pepper into every single thing he makes back in the kitchen as his calling card? The way legendary New York Times illustrator Al Hirschfeld would hide his daughter’s name “Nina” in almost all of his drawings?
Anyway, the Chocoladilla looked terrible opened up. Taco Bell should invent a cheese padlock or something to make sure customers can never, ever open it. Because it tasted okay, although pretty skimpy on the filling. One of my companions remarked that she wished it was filled with melted Kit Kat or Twix bars, just because it needed that cookie crunch inside to go with the chocolate and caramel.
“Well, we did that,” I said as we got up to leave. After 75 miles and all the build-up, the Chocoladilla was kind of a letdown. Maybe, for once, Taco Bell was right to withhold the goods from the general population.
Although let me know if you come across the Kit Kat version somewhere.