Taco Bell was always meant to pair with weed, not wine

To celebrate the launch of the new Toasted Cheesy Chalupa, Taco Bell Canada recently partnered with popular winery Queenston Mile Vineyard for a limited release of its very first house wine. Ontario residents snapped up every bottle of Jalapeño Noir within mere minutes, no doubt looking forward to pairing the earthy Pinot Noir with their next run for the border.

While the Toasted Cheesy Chalupa will be available on U.S. menus in November, the limited-edition red wine won’t. But I say Taco Bell should take pride in its status as America’s best stoner restaurant. Forget the wine. Nothing is stopping you from creating your own cannabis pairings.

As a lifelong Taco Bell fan (what other chain was there for me during my vegetarian phase?) and professional weed sommelier, I’ve matched some of my favorite menu items with cultivars of the cannabis sativa plant so you can assemble your tasting menu at home. Each strain has flavors, scents, or effects that enhance the enjoyment of each dish, creating a multisensory and immersive culinary experience.

Menu Item: Crunchwrap Supreme®

Pairing: Purple Kush (Indica)

I had no choice but to pair the Crunchwrap Supreme® with a joint of Purple Kush. When the brilliant minds at the Taco Bell Test Kitchen combined seasoned beef with nacho cheese, they were saying, “Hey, pal, you might want to be stoned for this.” When they decided to use a crispy tostada shell as a structural component to bisect the warm ingredients from the cool ones, they were saying, “You absolutely need to be high before ordering this.” When they wrapped their double-decker creation in an oversized flour tortilla and threw it in a futuristic waffle iron with the complex pleats of a Chinese dumpling, they might have been high themselves.

While most strains are capable of inducing the munchies—THC, the psychoactive compound responsible for getting you high, is known to increase hunger—Purple Kush, descended from Asian landrace strains Hindu Kush and Afghani, is renowned for its supernatural ability to stimulate cravings. The Crunchwrap Supreme®, which holds the dubious honor of being the least nutritious option on Taco Bell’s burrito menu, is the perfect pairing for this powerhouse of an appetite stimulant.

Menu Item: Mountain Dew Baja Blast® Freeze

Pairing: Super Sour Lemon (Sativa-Dominant Hybrid)

Terpenes are the naturally occurring organic compounds that plants use to repel grazing animals, resist fungus, and attract pollinating insects. While they’re found in everything from blueberries to facial cleanser, they’re commonly associated with cannabis due to their influence on the flavor and effects of different strains.

Limonene, which forms most of the essential oil found in lemon zest, is so aggressively citrusy that some jars of marijuana smell like powdered pink lemonade. In addition to their sweet flavor, limonene-rich strains like Lime Skunk, Lemon Skunk, and Super Lemon Haze are known for mood-elevating properties that inspire creativity and increase energy levels.

The “blast of natural and artificial tropical lime flavor” advertised in the bright teal and brain freeze-inducing Mountain Dew Baja Blast® Freeze accentuates the tart, candy-like taste of Super Sour Lemon, a sativa-dominant hybrid sometimes known simply as Sour Lemon or Sour Lemon OG. One warning: the combination of an uplifting, euphoric high and a sugar rush is recommended for experienced Taco Bell stoners only.

Menu Item: Nacho Cheese Doritos® Locos Tacos Supreme®

Pairing: L.A. Cheese (Indica-dominant hybrid)

When they were first introduced in 2014, the Nacho Cheese Doritos® Locos Tacos Supreme® seemed like stunt food, destined to become fast food history along with other over-the-top Yum Brands creations like the KFC Double Down and Taco Bell’s own short-lived Naked Chicken Chalupa. Since then, over a billion DLTs have been sold, earning them a place in the hearts and permanent rotations of stoners everywhere.

In addition to the standard seasoned beef, shredded lettuce, and cheese, the Supreme spin packs sour cream and tomatoes into the iconic safety-cone-orange shell. To truly embrace what makes this taco special—to live la vida locos tacos, if you will—I selected a cannabis strain that heightens not only the senses but the crunchy, cheesy flavor experience: L.A. Cheese.

Savory strains are more popular than ever these days: traditional fruity options like Blackberry Kush are bracketed by Garlic Juice and Peanut Butter Breath on dispensary menus. There’s even an entire category of Cheese strains that have a pungent, funky aroma. High levels of caryophyllene, a terpene that helps create the aroma of black pepper, gives L.A. Cheese a spicy quality that pairs well with the cumin-scented Dorito dust.

Menu Item: Cinnabon Delights®

Pairing: GSC (Indica-dominant hybrid)

It wasn’t until I began researching this story that I realized these frosting-filled doughnut holes are marketed as a breakfast item. That’s partially because no late-night order of Taco Bell is complete without a full dozen of these bite-sized bad boys, and partially because they’re so indulgent it’s the equivalent of marketing a full-blown milkshake as a breakfast smoothie.

GSC is, quite literally, the mother of all dessert-like strains. The Cannabis Cup award-winning cultivar has been crossbred to create Biscotti, Thin Mint, Gelato, and many more. GSC and its many descendants are known for a floral, sugary scent as fragrant as Cinnabon’s proprietary cinnamon blend, Makara.

While you might still hear the strain referred to as Girl Scout Cookies on the street, the cannabis industry resorted to abbreviation after the real Girl Scouts sent cease-and-desist letters to dispensaries across California. This story inspires an interesting question: what if a food conglomerate licensed its legal trademarks to a cannabis cultivator for the sheer sake of publicity? I’d buy an eighth of Taco Bell Cinnabon Delights® in a heartbeat.

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