Taco Bell removed the 7-Layer Burrito from their menu over a year ago, and I’m still mourning its loss.
My baby brother was born January 15, 2007. My only memory is of eating a Taco Bell 7-Layer Burrito in the hospital room.
Anecdotes aside. I was devastated when the 7-Layer Burrito was discontinued by Taco Bell in August 2020. It was gone along with several other fan favorites like the Beefy Fritos Burrito or the Spicy Potato Soft Taco.
A statement, issued July 2020, framed the burrito’s unfortunate elimination as part of a greater simplification effort that would pave the way for “even more innovation” on their menu. But 7-Layer Burrito aficionados like myself were unconvinced. After all, once you’ve reached the height of culinary brilliance, there is simply nowhere to go but down.
Many people were concerned about whether or not the fast-food chain would continue innovating in the category of plant-based foods. This was not my concern, however, even as someone who doesn’t eat meat.
Taco Bell holds the de facto title of most vegetarian friendly fast food chain, even though it offers many vegetarian options. “While change is hard, the menu will still feature Taco Bell’s two original plant-based proteins, black beans and pinto beans, as well as tons of vegetarian options,” A spokesperson for Taco Bell spoke to Vox in an interview. “Prior to COVID-19, Taco Bell’s second best-selling item across the entire U.S. menu was the Bean Burrito — a vegetarian item that will continue to stay on our menus after August 13.”
However, despite their continued veggie-friendliness and the removal of their 7 Layer Burrito was unacceptable. There simply wasn’t a better item on the menu. The 7-Layer Burrito was delicious and balanced. The light flavors of the tomato, lettuce, and guacamole contrast beautifully with the richer flavors of the cheese and refried beans.
My problem is also very sentimental. I tend to be fixated on one menu item at every restaurant that I go to, and order it over and over again without ever looking at the other options.
I am also remarkably consistent, as I can be seen from the anecdote in this piece. My brother was 5 years old when I was born. I’m 19 now, with the same love for the same menu item.
Before August 2020, I can recall that I had a 7-Layer Burrito from Taco Bell every time I went. It was simple, predictable. It was a welcome break from the chaos and chaos of life. Even though the world could crumble at my feet, I can still go to my local Taco Bell for my favorite burrito.
And now it’s gone.
Perhaps I’m being dramatic, considering that the 7-Layer Burrito is still something you can get at Taco Bell. If you make enough customizations to existing burritos, you can end up with something that is effectively a 7 Layer Burrito but with a different name and markedly more costly.
It raises a ship-of Theseus-adjacent issue: Is a Burrito Supreme, which has had its defining components removed, still, in essence, Burrito Supreme. Or is it a 7 Layer Burrito because that’s what it has become to look like?
Regardless of the answer, the 7-Layer Burrito that can be acquired through various permutations of existing menu items and ingredients certainly doesn’t feel like the same item. It takes twice the effort to order, of course, but the dining experience is also somewhat tarnished by the offense I take on behalf of the admittedly non-sentient burrito at the fact that it is no longer a “legitimate” menu item.
It’ll be alright, though, I hope. We live, love, and move on.