I love Taco Bell, but they’re currently playing a cynical game of shenanigans with their Steak Reaper Ranch Fries Burrito and Steak Reaper Ranch Fries Supreme. The fast food chain declares that both items have “heat that can’t be contained”. Sadly, this is true, because all the damned heat appears to have escaped from both items.

Screen grab of email from Taco Bell announcing Carolina Reaper Sauce.

Screen grab of email from Taco Bell announcing Carolina Reaper Sauce.

They each purport to employ the fabled Carolina Reaper, which is perhaps the hottest widely available pepper on the planet. It clocks in at 1,569,300 Scoville units, which makes it about half as strong as police pepper spray, and roughly five times as strong as a habanero pepper.

Taco Bell says is uses the Carolina Reaper in a custom ranch sauce that it dollops onto fries or squirts into a burrito. Upon tasting both items, any reasonable person must deduce that they only used one part Carolina Reaper to 10,000 parts stank-ass ranch sauce. What’s even more confounding is that any one of the chains hot, fire or diablo sauce packets deliver more of a punch than their listless Reaper Ranch. Fuck, I’d even say that ranch sauce on its own may be hotter because it tastes like a shit ton of sugar was added to the Reaper Ranch in order to further dull the pepper’s sting.

I don’t know if Ed Currie, the pepper breeder who created the Carolina Reaper, ever trademarked that name. If he did, well, he’s probably raking in some good Taco Bell money, so awesome for him. But if he didn’t, then you’ve got to feel bad for him, because Taco Bell is treating your child like a chump-ass trick, Ed.

How were both items overall? The Steak Reaper Ranch Fries Supreme were like a bucket of carbs swimming in unremarkable sauces. The Steak Reaper Ranch Fries Burrito was somehow way too wet and way too dry on the inside, and left me with a deep feeling of HOW? WHY? Both had very conservative portions of steak bits. And again, sucking on the stalk of a green onion would deliver more heat than the Reaper Ranch sauce.

As a massive fast food chain, I know Taco Bell has to appeal to a wide range of pepper sensitivities, but if you’re going to market something with the Carolina Reaper’s name, it has to be hotter than cinnamon Jolly Rancher. Otherwise keep that name out of your mouth.

Would I order a Steak Reaper Ranch Fries Supreme again? No
Would I order a Steak Reaper Ranch Burrito again? No
How much did it cost? $7.48 plus tax ($3.99 for the fries, $3.49 for the burrito)
Will Reaper Ranch sauce ever grace the table of “Hot Ones”? Not as a sauce but maybe as a replacement for milk.