The Real Reason Why Burger King's Tacos Are So Cheap

When Burger King rolled out tacos nationwide in July 2019, many consumers and amateur food critics alike were left scratching their heads: Why would a burger chain reintroduce a Mexican staple that most people don't even remember making the menu for fewer than six months in 2002?

While Burger King execs assured CNN that tacos had proven to be a "West Coast favorite" in early testing and added "variety" to BK's snack-friendly options, outside experts speculated that they were more designed to build buzz and hype rather than truly attract taco-loving masses to drive-thrus.

Indeed, most online reviewers registered shock at the chain's promotional image when compared with the actual product received from stores, with The Takeout reporting it "just might have the widest gap in the history of advertising," and that "any semblance of crumble ground beef is a fantasy." Meanwhile, Business Insider criticized the tacos inside and out (literally), calling the filling "a gooey, disappointing, confusing mess," with the tortilla shell faring "no better" on the flavor scale.

Behind the bargain-basement price of Burger King tacos

As much as Burger King's tacos got slammed in the press, many reviewers did point out one saving grace: the dirt-cheap price tag on the new tacos — $1. And there are probably a few reasons why Burger King can offer them so cheaply.

First, while these limited-time tacos were originally pictured with shredded cheese, the current description and image from Burger King's menu indicate it uses American cheese instead, while The Takeout noted the lettuce is the same as what you'll find on a Whopper.

In other words, BK doesn't need to invest in much additional inventory to pull off this new menu item. As Restaurant Engine explains, giant corporations like Burger King can take advantage of deep discounts from food suppliers due to the massive volume of their purchases and their power at the negotiation table. Chances are, they're already getting staples like cheese and lettuce at bargain prices.

Looking at the rest of the ingredients, Fooducate points out that, to no one's surprise, the tacos are "highly processed," and even worse, the taco filling (pumped up in volume with textured vegetable protein) and the tortilla share the same primary ingredient, which definitely doesn't cost much: water.

Time will tell how long the "limited-time" item will make the menu before being replaced by the latest novelty item designed to grab attention. Hopefully, its replacement will attract a lot less scorn.