the chain gang

Taco Bell Refused to Let Starbucks Win This Week’s Most-Gimmicky-Food Award

It’s a tie; both receive a heavy eye roll. Photo: Taco Bell; Starbucks Japan

Would people still have howled at KFC’s edible coffee cups in 2015 if they’d known how this device would pale next to the dystopian food-holding vessels of the future? In just the past two days, there have been strange new examples of the fast-food industry’s meme-worthy quest.

The first came yesterday: Starbucks’s new cherry-pie Frappuccino in Japan has a pie-crust lid. It looks attractive, but probably isn’t functional at all. Especially once the whip starts to liquefy, and adds even more volume down below — just look how full that Frap in the picture already is!

The second comes today: Taco Bell is testing another “Naked” taco, and this time it’s a breakfast item that has a fried egg as the shell. That might not actually taste half-bad, but … just take a gander at one IRL and imagine how this shell feels:

In the taco-shell-substitute kingdom, giant Doritos, waffles, biscuits, croissants, and flat circles of chicken have nothing on the off-putting texture (and color) of fried eggs. Taco Bell understands the potential for aversion, which is why the item will be offered two ways when it debuts on April 18 in Flint, Michigan: in a standard version (a moist and slimy whole fried egg loaded with potato bites, cheese, and bacon or sausage for $1.99), or a “dressed” version that wraps all of the above in a warm Gordita shell for the same price.

Starbucks’s new over-the-top drink — its first foray into fast food’s reinvent-the-wheel game, where chains take something just fine and proceed to “innovate” it — is timed to cherry-blossom season in Japan. It’s available April 13 through May 16, and is created by layering cherry compote, a vanilla-cream base, and more compote, before adding whip and the pastry dome. The dome obviously can’t attach to the cup, though, because (duh) it’s made of pastry crust, so it remains to be seen what happens to the beverage’s stability as the Frap underneath melts. Also, this is clearly not a straw drink — put a fork with that thing, at least.

Taco Bell Challenges Starbucks for Week’s Most Gimmicky Food