Thursday, October 18, 2007

Taco Bell "Chilito" 1986

I have always loved Taco Bell. I do not recall the first time I ever ate there, but I do recall my first taste of the famous, "chilito."
It was a summer Sunday evening in 1986. I was in the youth building at my home church, Liberty Baptist, located on 4th street in St. Petersburg, FL. There's a Taco Bell just a block down.
A few of my buddies and I were hanging out prior to the evening services playing ping-pong, and decided to make a quick "Run For The Border."

We all took off on foot and hit the drive-thru (yeah, we thought it was funny to "walk" thru the "drive" thru ... Gen X nerds!). My normal order in those days would have been 2 soft tacos and a small drink for just under $2 total. (some may recall Taco Bell's big promo in those days was their 59/69/79 menu where every menu item was either $.59 $.69 or $.79.

Anyway, this particular evening they had just rolled out a promo for the new "chilito" for $.79.
Interestingly enough, in 1986, the whole "Value Meal" concept had not yet been adopted by the Taco Bell chain; they were still into promoting individual items.
I decided to give it a try and I ordered 2 chilitos.
That was the beginning of a taste-bud obsession that still exists today!
The chilito is the simplest form of Mexi-Fast food. It is a super-soft flour tortilla, lots of melted cheese, and some chili-flavored meat. Add a little mild taco sauce, and you're in taste bud heaven!

To this day, I never order anything else from the Bell. When I am "thinking outside the bun," I'm dreaming of gobs of melted cheese and chili inside a multi-layered tortilla.

Here's some trivia for you:
Currently, the chilito is named the "chili cheese burrito" because the word "chilito" means "penis" in certain slang Spanish dialects! Ha!
Also, you will very rarely find the chili cheese burrito advertised on the actual published menu at your local Taco Bell. In fact, according to this interesting website:, only 12% of Taco Bells nationwide will even make one for you. I believe this figure to be a bit low because I buy them quite frequently at stores located in Indiana and Illinois.
I will say, however, that it is NOT listed on the published menu. I've had to ask for it by name, and in some cases, the kid at the register has had to get a manager to confirm what a chili cheese burrito actually is, it's availability, cost and how to ring it up!
Why has the chilito been sent to the literal back burner in the Taco Bell world? Some speculate that it just was not popular enough. Others think it's due to the bad press over the reference to the male member. Still others conclude its fat content is too high for today's health conscious fast food consumer. (read that again and see it that is funny to you as it is to me! LOL)
To "wrap" this up...if you all could share with me two things:
(1) do you like chili cheese burritos?
(2) what do you pay for them in your state or town? I find the prices range from $1.29 to $1.49.


Bonds756 said...

In 1986 I remember my mom 2 older sisters and me used to walk a few blocks to go shopping at a strip mall every saturday afternoon. We'd go to ZODY'S for clothes and also NEWBERRY'S. We would also stop in other shops depending on what my mom needed. After all the shopping was done we would haed up the street on the corner of Valley Blvd. and Chapel and eat at a little fast food joint called "PUP 'n' TACO". Every Saturday morning we went shopping and than we ate at "PUP 'n' TACO". Sometimes we ate lunch at NEWBERRY'S but most of the time "PUP 'n' TACO" was our spot. Understandably my mom was mad when she learned that the city of Alhambra decided to tear down our Saturday lunch spot for a new fast food joint called "TACO BELL". It took Taco Bell 1 Saturday lunch to win us over! That 59¢, 79¢, and 99¢ extra value menu was gold. My mom would give us a limit of $5 for lunch. I would get a hardshell taco, a bean n cheese burrito for 59¢ each and my all time favorite Chilito burrito for 79¢. The Chilito burrito is one of the greatest fast foods. To this day every time I eat at Taco Bell I always order at least one, most of the time 2 Chilito burritos with any other food that i get from Taco Bell.

Josh and Sarah Cox said...

I remember chilitos. You can order the chile cheese burrito down here. That's funny about the male "member."

Did you know that "gordito" means fat boy? I should sue them. LOL!

coffee maker said...

using April Fool's day for PR stunts are risky, but evidently they can pay off big for some companies

Chunkshank said...

I've asked for the "Chilito" here in California since they're not listed on the menu, and even the managers give me a funny look. It's a shame, because the Chilito was always my favorite item.

sara keppler said...

I live in southern California, and taco bell doesn't serve the infamous Chilito anymore. I'm not sure when they exactly took it off there menu, all I know is I had a craving for it a year or so ago when I thought back to my high school days and remember they served it on campus. When I asked for it at the restaurant, the cashier looked at me funny, I don't think she even knew what it was. Too young to remember and unable to experience this tasty concept of tortilla filling... Taco Bell, bring the chilito back!!

That Guy said...

Chili Cheese Burritos are my personal Jesus. They're always on the menu at my local Taco Bells though--in fact, they're the main item in "combo #4."

But I live in Canada...

Ben said...

The Chilito will always be my favorite Taco Bell item. In Arizona I've asked for it several times and no one ever knows what it is or how to come close to making it with so few ingredients chili meat, melted cheese wrapped in a tortilla. To this day the mystery still blows my mind why this item never made a comeback? All of Taco Bell's other burrito's and concoctions have never come close to the Chilito and are full of rice or too many ingredients like their 7 layer burrito. My buddy whose family owned a Taco Bell in Page, Arizona said he was glad the Chilito went away because they would have to have a separate pot just for the Chili meat he said that was annoying. For me it's always been a heart breaker and Taco Bell travesty.