Black Friday, Mall Zombies & Gross Tacos

Mall Taco Bell. It is exactly as good (or bad) as you think it is. But when you are mall zombie, does it matter?

I am not crazy. I did not wake up at 3am to make it to the mall to buy various discounted items you have to fight other shoppers for. However, after yesterday’s experience riding my bike around deserted Charleston, I needed to see if zombies had actually attacked.

In short, yes, they had. However, one of my friends informed me via text message that they were not in fact zombies – they were just people with a medical condition commonly known as “mall eyes.”

This phenomenon is what I think may have led to me deciding I would go to Taco Bell for lunch. I thought it might be nice to try them out for this blog, and I had not been there before.

I should have taken note of the faces of fellow Taco Bell customers. Each looked slightly guilty, as if to say, “what have I done in my life to deserve to be waiting in line to eat this food?” I am sure if someone had taken my picture at that moment, I too would have had a look of shame and distress as I waited for my taco, burrito and nachos.

So let’s get down to the food then I can talk about other things from the mall experience. The food was not very good. I haven’t had a lot of Taco Bell since moving to West Virginia a year ago. In New England, I went there quite a bit. This is explained by the fact that New England has HORRIBLE Mexican food. It is just bad. So in that sort of light, Taco Bell shines. Also there was a store within walking distance of my apartment, which gave me much guilt and shame and enough preservatives that I will live for at least twenty years after my body has technically died.

Pictured are the packets of salsa verde, a red volcano taco, a bland seven layer burrito and an order of volcano nachos with vinegar jalapenos.

I got a seven layer burrito (a regular purchase when i go to TB), a volcano crunchy taco and an order of volcano nachos. One praise I can give to the venerable fast food chain is that they have recently added “salsa verde” to their tiny salsa ketchup packets. Green salsa is always awesome, even in ketchup packets, and I was pleased by this addition.

However, even after I went back and exchanged my taco for one I specifically ordered with no beef, it was still boring, bland and tasteless. Volcano should mean hot and spicy, right? It failed on all counts. The seven layer burrito had the decent guacamole sauce, but again everything else in the burrito was just basic. The salsa verde added a bit of flavor, but not enough for me to truly enjoy eating it.

Finally, the nachos were only their squirts of cheese sauce with some sort of peppers added to make it volcano and over vinegared jalapenos. They didn’t add any beans or sour cream. I thought about going back and getting those items added, since the item was over $3, but I figured it would not make my lunch any better so why bother?

Fortunately, my trip to Starbucks was better. I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest (as I may have mentioned before), and I think due to this birthright, Starbucks should give me free coffee. However, I am happy to pay for it when the need comes. I decided to get all experimental and I ordered a salted caramel hot chocolate with soymilk and a shot of espresso. It was amazing, even without whipped topping!

Starbucks was the most busy store in the mall, I think. Good thing people were mellow and tired before getting their caffeine. A line afterward would have been dangerous.

If you have not experienced salted caramel, I highly recommend it. The salt mixed with the sweet is divine, and Starbucks manages to dust the top of the drink with the caramel and salt. The drink of course comes sans coffee, but the espresso shot was a perfect addition!

But eating and drinking coffee (or hot chocolate?) was not the purpose of my travel. My purpose was to see how bad Black Friday was. My guess is that the economic problems have made the day less spectacular than prior years.

Sure there were a lot of people as is demonstrated by the slide show that is coming up. But I did not see a lot of people mulling about in stores. Most seemed to be wandering the halls of the mall itself. I haven’t spent much time at Black Friday sales. One year I went to one at Target and got there at some stupid early time to get whatever it was I got (a printer maybe?) and it was not worth it. There were so many people there, and they didn’t push too much, but there was a sense that if you touched someone’s arm there was likely to be a throw down.

Random pictures of the mall, including my observation that the Proactiv Solutions vending machine is right next to FYE. Coincidence? Also, santa looks bored, and there are tons of people looking guilty for eating mall food.

People today were mellow and dead in the eyes. Maybe it was because they had not had enough caffeine, had spent all their savings on trinkets, or had eaten the mall food and were experiencing severe indigestion. Whatever the reason, the environment just left me feeling a little sad. And what better way to cure that than in retail therapy? Can’t beat em, might as well join em, right? Since I was a zombie for Halloween, it just made sense to become one on Black Friday.

So I went and grabbed a couple games and then wandered Macy’s until I found a jacket that I was forced to purchase – not because I needed it (I was wearing a jacket at the time) but because it was so damn cool!!!! So I succumbed to the pressure, purchased a couple things then headed home on my bike to my kitty, where she again looked at me and wondered why I looked like a zombie.

See what I mean by having to buy the jacket? It is seriously cool. And warm. What a contradiction!

Starbucks on Urbanspoon I agree with the rating here. Starbucks is consistent in giving a decent coffee or other drink no matter where you go in the world.

Taco Bell on Urbanspoon I find it humorous that Taco Bell in the mall is at 0%. Perhaps because most people don’t think about reviewing it. Perhaps because it is so bad people just know not to eat there unless they feel like they need to be punished after being in the mall for the time they have been. I would rate the experience in the scientific realm of about 30%.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Staci
    Nov 28, 2010 @ 17:13:25

    The problem is people rate Taco Bell as Mexican food. It’s in a class all by itself. And there is only one thing I order there and that’s a crunchy taco supreme, which is verboten for you. Darn you Chris, now I have to go try this darn salted caramel hot chocolate thingy. Are you posting all of these on FB as well? I seem to miss them if you do.

    Reply

    • Chrishall
      Nov 28, 2010 @ 20:19:49

      I do post them on FB :) They probably just look like any other crazy thing I post, or get lost in the mix of all the crazy things I post. The one thing about Taco Bell that is cool is that they will make ANYTHING vegetarian – but you always have to check to make sure they have. I have even, for the hell of it, gotten a beefy supreme burrito with beans instead of meat. It was one sorry burrito, but it was funny to see the look on their face at the time.

      And yes – the salted caramel hot chocolate is very very good. I am glad I could twist your arm to try it! Taco Bell lacks consistency between each store. Some are much better and some are much worse than others. Starbucks, however, seems to always be consistent no matter where you go, which is really awesome about them as a company!

      Reply

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