The Real Reason Taco Bell's Cheese Doesn't Taste The Same Anymore

"I'm currently obsessed with Taco Bell's bean and cheese burritos with extra green sauce and extra cheese. Gluttony!" says Fergie (via AZ Quotes). America's late-night (and sometimes early morning) obsession with Taco Bell's ooey, gooey, cheesy, melty goodness is well-known. It's a late-night crunch of southwest seasonings that features favorites people will order again, and again. 

Over the years, that classic taste has made some changes, however, and health advocates approve. Announced in 2015, Taco Bell joined a growing health movement to remove artificial colorings and flavorings from some key products. Taco Bell joined quick-serve food giants including Chipotle, Kraft, Pizza Hut, Subway, Panera Bread, Nestle USA, General Mills, Papa John's, Campbell's Soup, and Noodles and Company to reduce the potentially harmful chemical additives that have long been part of their brands, replacing these ingredients with natural alternatives (via Huffpost). This removal has been rolled out across brands over the past few years, with the majority of additives being removed by 2019.

The big question is, was it a success?

Consumers want naturally-based foods

Following years of successfully trying to combat rumors regarding ingredients and additives (including a well-circulated claim about Grade D meat, via First We Feast), the restaurant giant took serious measures to revamp their menu ingredients. Taco Bell's abandonment of Yellow No. 6, as well as specific chemical flavor enhancers, seems to be a success — and which is why Taco Bell's cheese may not taste like it used to (via Time). 

Business Insider describes the consumer quest for healthier fast food, and how the vast majority of consumers care about the ingredients they consume. By 2017 these changes had positioned the brand for significant growth as evidenced in their 2022 plan. In a Taco Bell Corp press release the company announced plans to add 9,000 restaurants globally in the next five years, creating up to 100,000 new jobs in the U.S. alone. The nacho cheese is still flowing, as evidenced by an announced cheese-dispensing Canadian billboard in 2019 (via Insider).

The restaurant scene may remain unpredictable, but comfort food remains core. Combining increased health benefits with comfort options is a sure recipe for success.