There’s a distinct smell to Taco Bell. It doesn’t come in their supermarket products, and you really can’t smell it when you get home and start ripping into their latest greasy permutation of ground beef, cheese and tortilla. The only place you can really detect it is at the restaurant.

Look. I don’t know what the hell it is. The very fact that I eat at Taco Bell ought to betray my palate as uncouth and perhaps even a bit retarded. So there’s no trusting what I would say when trying to determine what gives a Taco Bell restaurant that smell. I mean, the idea is ludicrous: “There’s just a flutter of tarragon and perhaps a soupcon of horseradish”—please, that’s enough.

It’s a good smell, I think. Something about it compliments that first slug of Mountain Dew you send valving down your throat like water from a hose in July. And that first bite melts buttery in your mouth, and you’ve programmed yourself to ignore the low grade gristle in the beef—if it really is beef and not some mutant soy by-product. No, you just let that soft goodness go down without a hitch. That’s right. It’s T-Bell.


But I’m starting to worry. What if that smell is some kind of additive that is doing its job a little too well? What if that smell issues from the stuff that makes you fart like a motherfucker all night? What if that smell is—God forbid—not representative of anything good at all?

All I know is I had some last night for the first time in weeks and today I want more. Has Taco Bell stripped me of all agency in choosing what I eat? So it seems…