In the eyes of America’s fast-food scientists, chicken is not merely an ingredient — it’s a medium. Fast-food restaurants use chicken the way sculptors use clay. Maybe they’ll mold it into the shape of french fries, or a hot dog bun, or two pieces of bread, or even a lovely floral corsage.
Taco Bell is the Michelangelo of stunt foods, thanks to its infamous Doritos Locos taco and its waffle taco. So this week’s nationwide debut of the Naked Chicken Chalupa — a taco with a shell made out of chicken — is the company’s Sistine Chapel.
We’re approximately one pancake and a tote bag short of the 2005 Saturday Night Live sketch “Taco Town,” folks. Truly, 2017 is shaping up to be a momentous year.
The taco is made of a folded-over piece of fried chicken and filled with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, cheddar cheese and an avocado ranch sauce.
Naturally, this was something we had to try for ourselves. Here’s the thing: The Naked Chicken Chalupa (can we just call it the NCC from here on out?) is neither as transcendent nor as pre-apocalyptic as its hashtagging friends and indignant foes, respectively, would have you believe.
After all, is the NCC really anything more than a fried chicken sandwich sans the bun? Like something a stoner Atkins-acolyte might dream up? Or even your mom. (“You know, watching my carbs, dear.”) Flatten out the curved chicken — unsupported, it will begin to do this on its own — and the novelty begins to not look so novel.
Low expectations probably artificially inflate the upside of the first bite, which smacks you with crunch, salt, fat and spice, at least momentarily hitting a variety of junk food pleasure points. Second bite, you start to notice things such as the spongy texture of the chicken and the abundance of flavorless lettuce. Also, wherefore art the avocado ranch sauce? The cascade pictured on promotional materials is nowhere to be found, instead reduced to a thin schmear. By the third bite, you begin to loathe yourself a little, and your stomach may begin doing flip-flops.
Another taster summed it up pretty well: “Weird.”
Now, please pass the water.