For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an affinity for the 49¢ burritos at Del Taco. The beans have a perfect consistency, and the cheese is melted in all the right places. When I was younger, I used to beg my parents to take my sister and me to the Del Taco near our house in Loma Linda, California. Looking back, I really don’t see anything special about these burritos–a much more satisfying experience can be had at any authentic Mexican restaurant. I realize that I don’t go to Del Taco for the food alone. Over the years, I’ve developed an emotional attachment to this cheap, delicious food.
I think it reminds me of my youth. The chain is primarily located in southern California, where I lived until I was nine. Maybe I feel connected to my hometown when I eat here. Maybe it’s because I remember all the funny things my dad would say as I ate my burrito and he ate his chili cheese fries. Or, maybe it’s because of the sheer number of matchbox cars I collected from the countless kids meals I’ve consumed. In any case, the food is familiar; I’ve grown up with it.
There’s no question whether Del Taco has created a lifelong customer. They have. Whenever I see one along the highway, I have the urge to stop and get my fix. Today, my meal always ends up costing a little more than 49¢ because in addition to my burrito, I get fries and a soda. I can’t help but wonder if that’s what they wanted to happen all along. I’ve criticized McDonald’s for brainwashing children with happy meals and parents for allowing this to happen. Yet, I’m no different.