The Untold Truth Of Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza

Can't decide between tacos or pizza tonight? Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza could have been the answer, but unless you want to try your hand at making a copycat version of it, unfortunately, you are out of luck. Much to the disappointment of Taco Bell loyalists everywhere, the fast food joint pulled the beloved pizza-taco hybrid from the menu in November 2020, along with several other fan favorites (via Thrillist).

Fully customizable with all of Taco Bell's sauces and add-ons at your disposal, the Mexican Pizza was ever the crowd pleaser, and at just four bucks for a double tostada layered, meat-loaded pizza, there's no other option on the Taco Bell menu that will give you quite the same bang for your buck. Considering how unique the Mexican Pizza was, the discontinuation of it came as a surprise to many. Since its introduction in 1985 (via YouTube), the Mexican Pizza has remained on the menu through every logo change, recipe revamp, and the coming and going of limited edition items. So, how did all those years of success lead Taco Bell to retire such a popular item seemingly overnight?

Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza wasn't discontinued because of low sales

As the social media outrage has proven, Mexican Pizza was and continues to be one of Taco Bell's most in demand menu items. But, regardless of its unwavering popularity, Taco Bell still made the decision to stop offering this item. According to a press release published on Taco's Bell website, the decision was made in light of Taco Bell's commitment to become a more eco-friendly establishment. The press release explains that in Taco Bell's U.S. locations alone, the packaging used for the Mexican Pizza produced over seven million pounds of paperboard material per year. This directly goes against the restaurant's mission, which was updated in January 2020 to focus on "making all consumer-facing packaging recyclable, compostable, or reusable by 2025 worldwide" (via Taco Bell). 

But, instead of creating more sustainable packaging for the Mexican Pizza, Taco Bell took the opportunity to retire it entirely, making room for other exciting additions to the menu and hopefully an equally successful modern classic to replace it.

Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza used to be called Pizzazz Pizza

When Taco Bell first introduced Mexican Pizza in 1985, it went by a different name, Pizzazz Pizza, which it was known as for three years (per Orange Country Register). In 1988, Taco Bell rebranded Pizzazz Pizza as Mexican Pizza, and though the Mexican Pizza commercial referred to it as a new addition to the menu, it looked exactly like the one that appeared in the Pizzazz Pizza commercial a few years prior. The only difference, aside from the names, was how they were marketed. 

While Pizzazz Pizza was presented as more of a fun midnight snack, Mexican Pizza was all about the fresh, wholesome ingredients that combined the best elements of Mexican and Italian cuisine, including ground beef, tomatoes, green onions, black olives, and a two-cheese blend. Over the years, the Mexican Pizza lost the green onions and black olives simply because Taco Bell phased them out (via Reddit). These toppings were ultimately replaced with refried beans and the two-cheese blend was upgraded to a three-cheese blend.

Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza led to a rise in South Asian American customers

One might assume that, if Mexican Pizza drew in one specific demographic, it would probably be Italians, but according to The Takeout, it was actually Taco Bell's South Asian American customers who flocked to the iconic menu item. The reason is that Mexican Pizza can be made vegetarian or halal friendly. While other fast food chains only began releasing plant-based alternatives to their menus in recent years, most famously the Impossible Whopper in 2019, Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza had been around for decades, and it was actually a tasty option. 

"We used to go [to Taco Bell] after mosque a lot on Fridays because it was the only thing that was open past 10 p.m.," one prior customer told The Takeout. "If people kept halal, the options were a McDonald's Filet-O-Fish or a vegetarian Mexican Pizza. Taco Bell always won." As the petition notes, Mexican Pizza is not only a favorite food of many customers, but also an accessible option for South Asian customers whose fast food options are otherwise limited.

Taco Bell hinted that the Mexican Pizza could make a comeback

Though the petition has yet to reach its 200,000 signature goal, there's a good chance Mexican Pizza could still return to the Taco Bell menu in the foreseeable future. One promising indication is that Taco Bell, in response to customer complaints, brought potatoes back only four months after deciding to discontinue them (via Insider).

Even more promising, however, is what Taco Bell Officer of Global Chief Food Innovation Liz Matthews told Insider. "There's always a chance," Matthews said about the potential for a Mexican Pizza comeback. "We're constantly listening to our customers. So I wouldn't pull that off the table." Matthews did not go into further detail about when this might occur, but considering the biggest reason for the Mexican Pizza's discontinuation had to do with its less than environmentally friendly packaging, a return could technically happen whenever (or if ever) Taco Bell decides to redesign it.

Clearly there's reason to hold out hope — not to mention the fact that there's also a lengthy description under Mexican Pizza on the Taco Bell menu that reads: "Who wants to live in a world with no Mexican Pizza? Spoiler alert, but the answer is no one ... See, it would never happen."

Del Taco launched its own version of Mexican Pizza after Taco Bell's was discontinued

Taking full advantage of the disappointment surrounding the Mexican Pizza discontinuation, Del Taco added its own to its permanent menu in April 2021 called the Crunchtada (via Eat This, Not That). Though similar versions of the Crunchtada have made appearances on the Del Taco menu since 2013, the fast food chain has reworked the recipe to be more pizza-like, and is promoting it as a better alternative to the one Taco Bell used to sell.

"More than a year ago, a certain tostada-like menu item, described as a Mexican Pizza, disappeared from a major Mexican fast-food chain, and fans took to social media and other online platforms en masse to air their grievances," Del Taco explained in a statement published on Eat This, Not That. Though the chain technically did not refer to its rival by name in any of their promotions, it's clear that Del Taco is more than willing to serve the customers Taco Bell may have lost, and they have even launched a designated hotline customers can call for a Crunchtada promo code. Taco Bell has long been the only place to get Mexican Pizzas, but with Del Taco taking over, this could very well mark the end of Mexican Pizza's chapter in Taco Bell history. Customers can only hope it makes a return in the (near) future!