Sophomore Ben Barteau has always been a fan of Taco Bell. But over the past year, Barteau took his love for this fast food joint to the next level when he embarked on a mission to try every single item on its menu. With the help of his friend and University of Iowa sophomore Carter Davis, Barteau created tacoben.com, a compilation of his “stupid thoughts in review format.”
Despite being written in a humorous, sarcastic tone, Barteau’s reviews serve as a useful guide to Taco Bell’s extensive menu. The Cheesy Gordita Crunch with a Doritos Locos shell, for example, holds a perfect 10 and is apparently comparable to “eating God.”
The idea for Taco Ben came about in January, when Taco Bell added new Loaded Grillers to its menu. For fun, Barteau decided to post reviews of each one on the Taco Bell Facebook page.
“I got a lot of positive feedback from people on the page, so I was like, ‘Oh, might as well do it for the whole menu,’” Barteau said. “It kind of started off as a joke and just got out of hand, and we kept doing it.”
In order to complete the menu, Barteau ate at Taco Bell with Davis at least once a week, each time making sure to order something different. Despite the frequency – and his abysmal experience with the 7-Layer Burrito — he said the project only changed his feelings about the chain for the better.
“I didn’t realize how huge the menu was before, and it does really interesting fast food twists on everything,” Barteau said. “I think it’s probably the most creative fast food restaurant.”
Barteau also said he received plenty of support from family and friends, several of whom contributed guest reviews to the site. When he was done, his friends dubbed him the Taco King and presented him with an old baseball trophy covered in hot sauce packets to commemorate his awe-inspiring achievement.
Since its launch in August, the Taco Ben site has seen success, particularly within the Northwestern community. The Facebook page has garnered almost 300 likes and even Taco Bell itself has taken notice — the company’s social media team reached out to Barteau and Davis with praise and sent them free t-shirts.
“It’s taken off more than we expected it to. It’s been kind of surreal,” Barteau said.
Now that Barteau has finished eating his way through the current menu, he and Davis are focused on generating fresh, funny content for the site. So far, the pair have created the All Star Meal — a seven-course endeavor, which Barteau warns is “probably too much for someone to actually eat in one sitting” — and a surprisingly accurate “Which Taco Bell Item Are You?” personality quiz (I’m a Soft Taco Supreme, in case you were wondering).
“It’s mostly just a fun hobby. We see it more like a comedy blog than anything else, ” Barteau said. “But if I could just drop out of school and eat Taco Bell, that’s the life.”
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