The Now-Discontinued Taco Bell Lunchables Collab We Forgot About

In the 1960s, when the restaurant first opened, the only place you could get a taste of Taco Bell was at an actual Taco Bell. These days, however, you can go to any grocery store and find Taco Bell-branded dinner kits, full-sized bottles of Taco Bell hot sauce, cans of refried beans, and even taco seasoning packets containing the same spice mix used at the restaurants. 

Taco Bell's grocery line has been evolving since 1996, when it was acquired by Kraft Foods. And through the years, customers have seen everything from Taco Bell tortilla chips to chocolate taco dessert kits.

About a year after the 1996 acquisition, Taco Bell collaborated with fellow Kraft Foods brand Lunchables to release a new variety of the prepackaged lunch product. Despite being a hit — at least according to the shared memory of the '90s kids on this Reddit thread — the Taco Bell Lunchables didn't end up becoming a permanent part of the Taco Bell grocery line.

What were Taco Bell Lunchables like?

When they first came out, Taco Bell Lunchables existed in two flavors: nachos and tacos. The nachos Lunchable came with mini tortilla chips, plus nacho cheese sauce and salsa to dip them in. The taco Lunchable, on the other hand, contained three mini soft tortillas, ground beef, shredded cheese, and a packet of Taco Bell sauce. Both Lunchables also came with a Capri Sun.

As a 1998 commercial highlighted, the main selling point of the taco Lunchable (aside from the fact that it made it possible for school children to enjoy Taco Bell for lunch) was that it didn't have to be heated. This was likely due to the fact that the taco filling wasn't real ground beef, but rather a shelf-stable spread that could be squirted onto the tortillas. It apparently had a gritty texture, but judging by the Reddit comments, most kids overlooked this because getting to have Taco Bell for lunch was considered a huge treat.

What happened to Taco Bell Lunchables?

Though Taco Bell Lunchables disappeared from shelves, the product wasn't technically discontinued. It was just rebranded around 1999. That year, Taco Bell re-released a commercial from 1998 that advertised the nacho Lunchables. The new 1999 commercial was nearly identical to the original one, except the Taco Bell logo was removed from the box, and all mentions of the brand were edited out.

The taco Lunchables followed suit and were rebranded simply as mini tacos (and consequently no longer came with Taco Bell sauce). It's unclear why Lunchables decided to do this, as both Taco Bell's grocery line and Lunchables were and still are owned by Kraft. 

Despite the rebrand, there's been no shortage of taco and nacho Lunchables. In fact, Lunchables has gone on to release Mess With Your Mouth Tacos and Nacho Walking Tacos. Currently, there are similar iterations available, but none have included Taco Bell branding since the '90s.