Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza has a deeper connection beyond being fast food

IRVINE, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza remains a popular item and menu staple. (Photo by Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Taco Bell)
IRVINE, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza remains a popular item and menu staple. (Photo by Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Taco Bell) /

Many people have a special connection with a particular food. It could be a favorite recipe that grandma makes or maybe it is the first dish that a person has learned to cook on her own. No matter what, when, where or why, that dish is etched into both the memories and the taste buds. One bite, a passing whiff or even a glimpse can bring people back to that table. With the Taco Bell Mexican Pizza, that beloved menu item captures that sentiment more than what people realized.

When Taco Bell removed the Mexican Pizza from the menu, many people were crushed. Although the customizable dish had legions of fans, the powers that be made room for other bigger name connections. Whether it was that Doritos flavored option or even those Nacho Fries, the new and exciting seemed to overshadow the tried and true.

Luckily, Krish Jagirdar did not want to stand by and let his beloved Mexican Pizza fade into restaurant lore. That decision to start a Change.org petition turned into more than just a reason to complain. It became a connection and celebration of culture.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Jagirdar about his connection to the return of the Taco Bell Mexican Pizza. While some people might have been resigned to a world without the beloved menu item, he took action, not just for himself but for a larger community that some people might not associate with the popular quick service restaurant.

Jagirdar commented that Taco Bell was his introduction into that American past time of fast food. Growing up as a vegetarian, the Mexican Pizza substitution of beans for beef was his way of enjoying that American food yet still staying true to his Indian upbringing. In some ways, it bridged the gap between the Indian and American food culture.

As the Change.org petition gained momentum, Jagirdar saw the deeper connection between the Mexican Pizza and the Southeast Asian community. While Taco Bell has long been a supporter of vegetarian swaps, these options were a way for more people to get a taste of that American fast food experience.

While accessible and cost effective, Jagirdar found that there was more to the Taco Bell experience than just convenience. Looking back, he can see the similarities between Mexican flavors and Indian spices. He even mentioned that when his grandparents came from Indian to visit, they enjoyed the fast food since there was a similar flavor connection.

Even though there is a sense that any food can satisfy a hunger, Jagirdar believes that in some ways this food is more than just sustenance. Over the years, that Mexican Pizza shared with friends is about the conversation, the connection, the familiar. Whether it is a sense of comfort food, a topic of conversation on a first date, or just something else, he believes that Taco Bell is in a “league of its own.” Few quick service restaurants have that food and culture connection.

Now that the Mexican Pizza has returned to the menu, many people will be placing an order to satisfy that craving. Jagirdar recommends substituting those beans for beef and having two or three if you’re really hungry. And, pairing that food with a Baja Blast is a great choice, too. To celebrate the return, he will be enjoying a few Mexican Pizzas with some friends.

What is the biggest lessoned learned from the return of the Taco Bell Mexican Pizza? Being vocal about a favorite food item isn’t just about one voice being the loudest. It is about a crowd of people joining behind a cause and showing that the most memorable, flavorful dish on a menu is seasoned with a deeply rooted connection to food and culture.