Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

R.I.P. Taco Bell’s Naked Chicken Chalupa, 2017-2017

Photo: Taco Bell

We are gathered here today for this living wake in loving, future memory of Taco Bell’s Naked Chicken Chalupa.

Oh, what divine Yum! Brand™ Creator giveth, it has taketh away, proclaiming that in March, the Year of our Lord 2017, the chalupa conceived with a fried chicken shell shall cease being and return to the great Taco Bell assembly line in the sky, where it will be reunited with its departed ancestors like the Enchirito, Grilled Stuft Nacho, and the Bell Beefer. We may take comfort in knowing that the Naked Chicken Chalupa did not live a life too short, nor too long. Its time on Earth was the appropriate length: about two months.


It arrived into our lives with stentorian fanfare, its conceit the subject of vicious, hyperbolic mockery. But when the moment came in which we actually met this chalupa, there was a revelation: It was hardly sacrilege. Here was a fried chicken sandwich that realized its true identity did not require the facade of buns to exist. It discovered that by folding a pliable, breaded chicken cutlet onto itself, one can house the lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese without the pretense of added starches. It was a simple, humble menu item whose salt-of-the-earth work ethic is part of a dying breed of Americans and fast-food creations.

For this bravery, it was applauded. “It’s a winner,” raved the San Francisco Chronicle. “A new, exciting risk, and it worked,” Spin proclaimed. “Fantastic,” Cleveland’s Plain-Dealer extolled. And yet, it must take its leave, as demanded by the unsparing judgment of Taco Bell’s marketing department.

In this, the Naked Chicken Chalupa taught us to not cast prior judgment. Judge not, lest ye be judged, for the stain of our chicken-greased iniquity shall endure. Until we meet again on the menu—which, let’s face it, will probably be about six months from now.

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