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taco bell logo

In an era of throwback logos and throwback branding, Taco Bell adds a new twist: throwback corporate synergy.

Up until 1997, PepsiCo owned Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, and a few other fast food chains in addition to its soft drink and snack chip (Frito Lay) empires.  At that time, PepsiCo spun off the restaurants to newly-formed Tricon (which formed Yum Brands) and I feared the beginning of the end of delicious Pepsi in some of my favorite fast food eateries.  After all, there was a time in the not-too-distant past that Burger King served Pepsi over Coke.

taco bell doritos

Now Taco Bell is rolling out a new $2 meal that includes one menu item, a fountain beverage, and a bag of Doritos.  Taco Bell, you never cease to amaze me with your efforts to keep costs low to offer cheap prices.  I mean, I thought the meatless potato taco was extreme, but this beats all.

I'm still not sure how I feel about this admittedly clever idea.  My first reaction is that Taco Bell already has a side of nachos that hopefully won't be going anywhere.  But then I have to say Quiznos and Subway have been getting away with bags of chips as sides for years so it would be hypocritical of me to pan Taco Bell for doing the same thing.

After Spain, our next stop on the European McDonald's fast food tour is France.  Specifically, Nice.  The French menu looked much like what I saw in Montreal, but Canada doesn't really count as a foreign country (the cows are all north Americans after all.)

Their main menu is a "Best of" menu where you order in steps (entree, side, beverage) instead of by the number, although someone had stuck tiny little numbers next to each picture.  I know it's hard to read some of these pics, so I will list the selections in the above pic here:

  • Big Mac - of course
  • Big Mac "pain complet" (on whole wheat bread)
  • Le M (kind of a sturdy burger on funky square bread)
  • The Pulp Fiction-esque Royal Cheese
  • Royal Bacon
  • Royal Deluxe
  • CBO - Chicken, Bacon and Onions
  • Royal-O-Fish (clever name)
  • Filet-O-Fish
  • McChicken
  • 6 Chicken McNuggets

They also had the Big 'N Tasty, although since they don't use the word "and" they would not understand the abbreviated "'N" so they just call it a Big Tasty.  At first, I thought this sign below was homemade:

But then I saw another in the same style on the menu board:

So this winds the award for ugliest, most unappealing posters and advertising.  Even the sandwich looks unappetizing.  And no, I don't think that's swiss cheese in the upper pic - just sun faded.

What else is unique in France?  Plenty!

What about the kids?  Don't worry, they have Happy Meals too:

Hey look, they have cherry tomatoes too, just like in Barcelona.  But here, they call them Les P'tites tomates.  Everything sounds prettier in French.

Tune in next week as we move on to Corfu, a touristy island in Greece.

barcelona

Following my recent European vacation itinerary, I first encountered a foreign McDonald's in Barcelona, Spain.  I shouldn't say "foreign" though, as I was the foreigner of course.  Now first off, I have to say NO, I did not eat McDonald's in every city.  But I did "bookend" my trip with a tasty fast food meal here in Spain and then at the end of my trip in Italy.

barcelona main menu

The main menu, or "McMenu", displayed some familiar favorites.  The Big Mac and Quarter Pounder (or Quart de Lilliura) and a twist for you Pulp Fiction fans, a "McRoyal Deluxe".  But also on the menu were some unique items:

  • The CBO, or Chicken, Bacon and Onion sandwich.  The CBO is all over Europe, and will make another appearance in a subsequent article.
  • The NY Crispy.  Yes, NY stands for New York.  I had this sandwich and will review in a moment.
  • McPollastre - Chicken sandwich
  • McBacon - Rivaling the CBO as the winner for best sandwich title that says what's on the sandwich.

What can you get for 1 euro?  All the standard stuff.  A burger, cheeseburger, small fries, and small soft serve are all standard American fare.  But they also have a Chicken BBQ Burger and 6 Anelles de ceba, aka onion rings.  Wow, onion rings at McDonald's.  Come to think of it, they were very big on onions, what with the CBO and NY Crispy.  I also like the "Con Kit Kat" which was a soft serve cone with a Kit Kat candy bar stuck in it.

The NY Crispy is a BBQ bacon cheeseburger with fried onion bits, lettuce, tomato and mayo.  I ordered one, and here is what I got:

This was a tasty sandwich, as it should be with all the stuff on it.  Still, I was not "wowed" by it and don't think it would become a regular staple should it be offered stateside.

And because no visit to McDonald's is complete without checking out the Happy Meals, here's the menu for little Spanish kids:

 

Hmm.  Hey kids, don't want fries?  How about Happy Cherritos?  Those are cherry tomatoes.  Or those Patates Deluxe, which seem to be some sort of wedge cut potato.  I like the "Chicken Roll" too, it reminds me of a Hot Pocket.

Well, that's it for Spain.  We gotta keep this tour movin'.  Next stop, France.  Check back next week for another post.

mcdonalds corfu menu

Beginning Monday, and over the next five weeks, Fast Food Source will run a five-part story about the McDonald's food I encountered during a recent trip to Europe.

Following my itinerary, we will stop in Spain, France, Greece, Croatia and Italy, comparing menu items (like those pictured above) in each country.  What's on the 1 euro menu in Barcelona?  What's "CBO" stand for?  What's inside the "Il Mac"?  These and many more questions will be answered!  Come back Monday!

chipotle logo

New menu added to Fast Food Source.  The much requested Chipotle menu is now here.  I got tired of wading through the Flash-intensive Chipotle website while enjoying a Burrito Bowl the other day thought, hey - let's just write this stuff down.

Enjoy!

jack in the box fries poster

Jack In The Box's new fries are a step backwards - which in any other context would be an insult.  However, in this case, it's a compliment.  Gone are the heavy coating and potato-skin-left-on texture.  What we are left with is a nicely seasoned, crisp and skinny fry that tastes great straight or when dipped in ketchup (or your favorite dipping sauce.)

 

jack in the box fries beauty shot

I appreciate the effort Jack seems to be making to acknowledge its past.  Even the new design of the placemat includes a cool retro pattern and a nifty logo timeline (hard to see on the left side of the pic above.)  Anyway, back to the fry.  This version is much closer to the original (although still not as good) and does away with that thick coating that was meant to either improve crispiness, flavor, or both.  I still haven't figured that out, as I lamented in my Death of The Plain Old French Fry article last year.  In any case, thank you Jack In The Box, for the effort.

What is Fast Food Source?

Providing fast food blogs, menus, locations and other information for over80 major chains

Since 2000, Fast Food Source has been the premier independent site dedicated to fast food lovers, offering fast food restaurant menus, and nutrition information, as well as fast food blogs, articles, forums, and fast food industry news. We offer fast food location information for over 50 cities and more than 80 fast food chains.

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