Preaching to the hungriest choir

In a bold move to catapult the United States back onto the top spot of world wide obesity rankings (watch your back, Mexico!) the good people at Taco Bell have announced they will start to offer their unique brand of food-like product for breakfast.

Following in the footsteps of the fast food breakfast king McDonalds, the pretender to the throne Burger King and the allegedly healthy Subway, now Taco Bell will serve you the kind of breakfast that will make your body say “Have we been drinking? Why are we eating Taco Bell?”

Over the past few years fast food chains from sea to shining sea have started to offer breakfast options, based on the false assumption that you will stop at one of these places before work and not simply scavenge whatever food is unlabeled in the break room fridge.

It is clear that the food science think tank responsible for the seemingly implausible Doritos Taco have been burning the midnight grease concocting the finest weapons-grade breakfast food that $1.09 can buy.

Behold: The waffle taco.

As if walking straight from the fever dreams of some Iowa State Fair vendor and into your ever clogging arteries, the waffle taco is the apex of not only Taco Bell’s breakfast menu but also waffles in general.

In the before-times a simple waffle could only aspire to the greatness of an ice cream cone and nothing else.

Now the waffle can attain its final form, as a delicately curved repository for a sausage, egg, maple syrup and self flagellation for daring to think you could eat it in the car without spilling.

And what does one pair with such an opulent breakfast item? Coffee? Sure, you could go that route and have yourself a somewhat normal breakfast. But to truly embrace the aesthetic of early morning dining in a molded plastic booth I would suggest a flute of Mountain Dew A.M., the half orange juice, half Mountain Dew combo that easily could have been called a Truck Stop Mimosa.

Tack on a few sides (hashbrowns, some kind of cinnamon dough ball) and you’ve got the makings of a breakfast that is certain to make you want to return to bed.

That is if you can get one before they get yanked off the menu … because of drugs.

That’s right, the Partnership for a Drug Free America (those guys who make the weird commercials where the poorly drawn talking dog tells you not to smoke marijuana) is on to not only Taco Bell but Denny’s and Jack in the Box’s scheme and they’re ready to put an end to it.

The scheme in question? Apparently, fast food companies are now marketing their … food … to that most underground niche market, the American stoner.

I think its a fair assesment that the United States has a touch of schizophrenia when it comes to marijuana. Some states say its illegal, some say its legal, others say it should only be legal for medicinal use, while the federal government says that no one should use it, ever … unless the state has OK’d it but then only sometimes, and not always.

Make sense? Of course not.

The issue for Partnership for a Drug Free America (PDFA) is that these companies have begun marketing their commercials directly to marijuana users, without so much as innuendo to supply plausible deniability.

For proof they cite Jack in the Box commercials where lazy millennials are sitting on a couch, staring at nothing, until someone decides to get something to eat; all while talking to the “Jack” puppet.

Also on the list are Denny’s commercials featuring such mythical creatures as unicorns, talking dinosaurs and Hoobastank (I really wish I was making up that last one) as well as Taco Bell’s entire existence, waffle taco included.

Now, PDFA does good work and knows what they are doing; these are the people who made the “This is your brain on drugs” campaign. But I really think they are fighting a losing battle, and applying resources that could make a difference in another campaign.

And I say that, for one reason and one reason alone: Stoners were going to be eating fast food anyway.

Walk into a Denny’s at 3 a.m. and who do you see? Sure, there is a smattering of late shift workers and truckers. But who is the primary customer? The intoxicated.

Whatever substance they ingested that evening has called them to end their night with a large pile of something fried and preferably cheesy.

Now, ask any one of them what commercial they saw that brought them to this restaurant in particular? Once they realize you aren’t a police officer I’m sure they’ll be happy to tell you that they have no idea what commercial you’re talking about, but it sounds “epic.”

Denny’s, Jack in the Box and Taco Bell are launching these campaigns to catch attention and, yes, maybe even some ire from folks like the PDFA so they can claim some “rebel cache” in the advertising world; at least all the “rebel cache” available to a multi-billion dollar restaurant conglomerate.

Is something like a waffle taco going to appeal to your average stoner? Sure, but so is a regular waffle or a pizza or a burger or Ramen noodles or the aging remnants of a half-empty bag of Doritos; you’re not winning any advertising prizes convincing high people to eat a warm breakfast.

So how about it PDFA? You can lay off the Taco Bells of the world, stop giving them the street cred they’re looking for and refocus your efforts in your otherwise noble cause. And as for Taco Bell and their waffle tacos: I can say with certainty that is the most disgusting sounding breakfast item that will have me waiting in line.

Copy Editor Wes Burns is a Sunday columnist. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don’t necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Wes Burns at 641-753-6611 or