Taco Bell has made a run across the border, notes the Associated Press, which reported this week that the company “is taking on the homeland of its namesake by reopening for the first time in 15 years in Mexico.” As a “pop culture historian” observes, “It’s like bringing ice to the Arctic.” (Although that’s not really the ideal reference these days [registration required]. I’d have gone with the classic idiomatic expression and said, “It’s like bringing burritos to Newcastle.”)
In Mexico, Taco Bell, which opened its first store in Monterrey a couple of weeks ago—the company projects as many as 300 locations across the country—is branding itself as just another American fast-food joint. (In short: Move along, you Mexican gastro-nationalists. Nothing to see here.) As the company wrote in a Mexican newspaper ad, “It is a new fast-food alternative that does not pretend to be Mexican food.”
To get that point across, tacos are no longer tacos—they’re now called tacostadas, a play on tostada. The story includes this wonderful quote from a Mexican office worker: “They’re not tacos. They’re folded tostadas. They’re very ugly.” It seems safe to assume that he would find the company’s understated Mexican marketing slogan—“Taco Bell is something else”—hard to argue with.