Sherman Ave Interviews: Taco Ben
There’s a brand new sensation that’s sweeping the nation: tacoben.com.
Ben Barteau AKA Taco Ben, a sophomore at Northwestern, has tried and written reviews on every single item on Taco Bell’s menu. He publishes his reviews on tacoben.com, a website which he founded earlier this year. Clint Taurus and Reverend Doctor Dee Dee Turlington, Esquire, Attorney at Law were given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to speak with Taco Ben at the Taco Bell on Sherman Ave (the actual street) about his website and the journey he undertook to make tacoben.com a reality.
Turlington: Taco Ben.
Clint: It’s been a long time coming.
Taco Ben: Yup.
Turlington: I guess we’ll start out with a pretty basic question. Why did you found tacoben.com? Everyone wants to know.
Taco Ben: I thought it would be a pretty funny joke. Like, people would see it, and they’d be like, “Oh, this guy actually did this. That’s weird.”
Clint: So you planned on putting the work in, you just didn’t plan on getting the URL.
Taco Ben: Pretty much. It was just a joke, and then it kept going. It never stopped.
Turlington: And how long did the whole process take you? Eating all the Taco Bell items and then making a website?
Taco Ben: I guess it’s been a lifelong journey of eating Taco Bell, but I really started about two years ago. I decided I was gonna start eating everything.
Clint: When was your first post on the website?
Taco Ben: The website just launched this year.
Clint: Oh wow.
Taco Ben: Yeah. I’ve been accumulating reviews and general goofiness with my friend for a couple years. Then we decided to make a website which we worked on all summer long.
Turlington. Very cool. Do you have any comments on the recent Buzzfeed scandal?
Clint: Let’s get it out of the way fast.
Taco Ben: TacoGate?
Clint: Yes because I took Buzzfeed’s quiz and, well, I forgot what I got, but your quiz was a better quiz I would say. Yours took more time. I feel like it really got to know me.
Turlington: I got the Cheesy Gordita Crunch.
Clint: Me too!
Turlington: I was really satisfied with that result.
Taco Ben: You know, it was gonna happen. When you put out such stellar content, you’re going to have sites like Buzzfeed that are going to plagiarize your work. But, I’ve been emailing with Taco Bell’s social media team actually-
Taco Ben: They said they saw it and thought mine was better. So, it’s officially better.
Turlington: Oh! Very nice.
Clint: That’s funny because I was just about to ask you what your goal with Taco Bell is. Do you plan on working with them?
Taco Ben: Yeah, the ultimate goal would be, like, being their spokesperson. In their commercials. I’d be like, “Hi, I’m Taco Ben! Let me tell you about Taco Bell.”
Clint: You’ve definitely put in the work.
Turlington: Yeah. I mean, the dedication’s definitely there. That’s something I don’t think anyone can question.
Taco Ben: I’ve sent them messages about it, and we’ll see where they go from that.
Turlington: Awesome. Alright, any taco groupies?
Taco Ben: Any what?
Clint: Fangirls, if you will.
Taco Ben: There have been a few ladies–and boys–on campus who have been really into it. They always call me out on the street.
Turlington: You’ve got a good fanbase. That’s good.
Taco Ben: They love the idea. I think they want to get with me, but Taco Ben’s sort of a fictional creature. I don’t see him as being very sexual.
Clint: Oh, so Taco Ben isn’t you. It’s an alter ego.
Taco Ben: Yeah. Like, Ben Barteau would be open to get with any of these people, but Taco Ben is sort of his own entity.
Turlington: Saving himself until marriage.
Clint: Are you tired of the poop jokes? Like, “Oh, how much time have you spent on the toilet,” and that stuff?
Taco Ben: Yeah. A lot of people, when I started it, they would always say, like, “Oh, I bet this is destroying your bowels!” You know, like, “Oh man! RIP your digestive system,” and, “You’re gonna poop so much.” But, honestly, I’ve found the opposite. I actually haven’t pooped since I started the project two years ago.
Turlington: Oh, gotcha.
Clint: That’s probably more dangerous I would think.
Taco Ben: I’m just really confused by all the comments for the most part.
Clint: So when you eat Taco Bell, considering that’s the entirety of your food intake, do you try to consult the food pyramid and try to eat healthier?
Taco Bell: I go more for diversity, I think. I don’t think it matters what you eat. I think it matters how many different things you eat. Always changing it up on your body. Keeping your metabolism up.
Turlington: Keeping it on its toes.
Taco Ben: Exactly. That’s how to stay model thin.
Clint: And you are model thin.
Turlington: As a major government organization, is there a particular reason why you don’t have a .gov domain name?
Taco Ben: I looked into it. We looked into getting a .gov, .biz maybe—
Clint: .biz seems like it would have fit.
Taco Ben: Yeah, tacoben.biz. But, I don’t know. It was something with the President. He just didn’t want us to have a .gov. There’s some kind of rule.
Clint: So you think Obama is behind this.
Taco Ben: I think it’s Obama’s doing. We had to go through him, and I don’t think it ended up getting passed.
Turlington: Thanks Obama, as they say.
Clint: I like the idea that one of the main duties of the President is going through URL registration.
Turlington: He has a special Tinder app that, instead of swiping right to get with the person, it’s swipe right to give it a .gov. Swipe left to not allow it to get a .gov.
Clint: There are so many options for each government agency. There’s .biz, .net, .tv...
Clint: Are your parents proud of you? For this? Do they know?
Taco Ben: I like to think that they are, but deep down I really don’t think they are.
Turlington: That’s too bad.
Clint: Is there anything you want to say to your mom and dad?
Taco Ben: Uh...sorry...pretty much that. Just sorry.
Turlington: Alright, Taco Bell breakfast came out pretty recently-
Turlington: Wait, like here?
Clint: Yeah. At this location. He bought us our food. I think I had the A.M Crunchwrap.
Turlington: What are the reviews like for the breakfast menu?
Taco Ben:Overall, it’s a pretty solid category. The Waffle Taco is a novelty. Like, it’s sorta fun to eat. The A.M Crunchwrap is pretty solid. Some of the breakfast burritos are high up there in the rankings.
Turlington: So would you say that Taco Bell Breakfast really changed the game?
Taco Ben: I would say it definitely changed the game. I used to not eat breakfast. Now I only eat Taco Bell Breakfast everyday for breakfast.
Clint: Are you finished reviewing all the items on the menu?
Taco Ben: Well, they just added some dollar menu items. This (points to his food) is one I actually haven’t had yet.
Turlington: What was it called?
Taco Ben: I think it was the Beefy Mini-Quesadilla
Clint and Turlington (At the same time like fucking nerds): How was it?
Taco Ben: Definitely better than the Chicken Mini-Quesadilla. I will probably give it like a 6.
Turlington: Wow, you heard it here first, folks!
Clint: So, let’s say you go into Taco Bell off the clock and just want to grab a bite to eat. What’s good? What do you get?
Taco Ben: You know, I always fall back on the Cheesy Gordita Crunch.
Clint: That was pretty tasty, I must say. I was satisfied. Granted, it was the only thing I have eaten today, so I’m starving.
Taco Ben: I also like the Mexican Pizza.
Clint: That looks disgusting.
Taco Ben: It’s one of the best things on the menu. It got an 8.5.
Turlington: Wow. That’s pretty solid.
Clint: What’s on it?
Taco Ben: It’s like two opened face tortillas with beans in between and then pizza sauce. It also has beef, and cheese, and taco sauce. I recommend that.
Clint: Where are you from?
Taco Ben: I’m from Rockford, Illinois.
Clint: Your local Rockford Taco Bell versus this one here in Evanston?
Taco Bell: Rockford’s is orders of magnitude better. Bigger, better food, better service, and more consistent. Sorry Evanston residents, you have a bad Taco Bell.
Clint: Have you thought of quitting after having bad service?
Taco Bell: Quitting the whole thing? There was one time I got a really bad burrito from here and sat for while thinking, “What if this was it?” Then, I talked to my friend later and he, luckily, cheered me up and here I am today.
Turlington: Your friend did the Lord’s work. To finish up, we’re going to do a Fuck/Marry/Kill. So, Fresco Soft Taco, Volcano Taco, and Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Supreme Taco?
Taco Ben: Kill the Fresco Taco, Marry the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Supreme Taco, and Fuck Volcano Taco.
Clint: Do you like spicy food?
Taco Ben: I usually don’t. but I’ll be up for a semi-painful experience.
Turlington: Yeah, like something a little bit weird?
Clint: Like choking?
Taco Ben: Yeah! A little bit kinky.
Turlington: Well, good show, Taco Ben. It was nice talking to you.