April 9, 2008

Melted Morphology

"Misnomer ... Noun ... A use of a wrong or inappropriate name."

That's what Merriam-Webster says on m-w.com. It's also a good definition of Taco Bell's new Cheesy Beefy Melt.

It might seem impossible to mislabel something with two adjectives in its name. Taco Bell's latest addition to the menu might as well be a blueprint on how to do just that.

Start by stressing the fact that your food item is cheesy, but don't make it much cheesier than other items on the menu. Despite the fact that the commercials for this thing may set an American record for the amount of stringy cheese hanging out of peoples' mouths within a 30-second time slot, the melt doesn't taste any cheesier than, say, a Cheesy Gordita Crunch or Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes. In fact, the latter two items probably have a more predominantly cheesy flavor.

Next, feature "beef" in the name, but allow that beef to be overpowered by the taste of your seasoned rice. It rhymes true that rice is nice, but the grain should not be the dominant texture and flavor in a Cheesy Beefy Melt.

Finally, don't bother to differentiate this "melt" from any other food on the menu involving cheese. It wasn't served any warmer than some of The Bell's other tepid offerings, and the cheese just blended in with the other ingredients like normal Taco Bell fare. There was no unique interaction of tastes -- no cheese playing off beef, no special seasonings, nothing. The word "melt" seems to have been used because the marketing mongols needed a word that sounded different from the other ones on the drive-through board.

And aside from the price, the Cheesy Beefy Melt does only sound different from any of Taco Bell's other offerings. It's even wrapped in one of their basic flour tortillas. There is virtually no taste difference, but you will spork out just over three bucks for one.

If I'm going to spend that much cash on one item at Taco Bell, I at least want to eat something that's named accurately. Two out of five sporks.

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