(NEXSTAR) – The Mexican Pizza is coming back, but it’ll never have the same pizzazz as it did in 1985.
Taco Bell fans are counting down the days until the return of the Mexican Pizza, a specialty offering that was removed from the chain’s menu in 2020 to make way for newer dishes. The item — a pizza-tostada hybrid featuring pizza sauce, beans, cheese, and other toppings layered on crispy tortillas — had developed something of a cult following over the years, with everyone from Doja Cat to Dolly Parton declaring themselves fans.
“I think they should [bring it back],” Parton told Insider in Jan. 2022, echoing the 171,000-plus people who signed a Change.org petition demanding that Taco Bell resurrect the Mexican Pizza.
The Mexican Pizza that many of these fans know and love, however, is slightly different than the one that debuted at Taco Bell restaurants in 1985. Marketed as the “Pizzazz Pizza,” Taco Bell’s original recipe featured sliced olives and green onions in addition to the familiar ingredients seen in more recent iterations.
“It’s a different kind of pizza only Taco Bell has,” an ad campaign for 1985’s Pizzazz Pizza touted. “It’s cheesy like a pizza, but it’s really crisp and light.”
In 1988, the chain officially rebranded the Pizzazz Pizza as the Mexican Pizza. There’s evidence that the owners of a Cleveland-area pizzeria filed an unsuccessful trademark dispute with Taco Bell and PepsiCo in 1985 over the name, but it’s unclear if that factored into the Mexican Pizza’s rebranding. A representative for Taco Bell was not able to provide additional details.
In any case, the Mexican Pizza stuck around on Taco Bell’s menu for over three more decades, even as olives and green onions were phased out of the recipe.
Then, on Nov. 5, 2020, Taco Bell announced the unthinkable: The Mexican Pizza was being removed from the menu to “[pave] the way for fresh new ideas.” The item’s packaging was also cited as an impediment to Taco Bell’s “commitment to leave a lighter footprint on our planet,” the chain said in a press release.
But less than a year after the Mexican Pizza left the menu, Taco Bell was already rumored to be bringing it back. In Sept. 2021, a report published at Living Mas — a Taco Bell fan site — indicated that executives announced the Mexican Pizza’s impending return at a franchise convention in Colorado Springs, Colorado, citing leaked footage from the event.
Taco Bell remained mostly silent amid the rumors (aside from a few hints here and there) until April 18, 2022, when the chain announced it’s Mexican Pizza would be back on nationwide menus in May.
“While rumors of the Mexican Pizza’s return have been swirling for months, it hasn’t been publicly confirmed, until now,” Taco Bell wrote in a press release issued Monday, just one day after singer and rapper Doja Cat took credit for bringing back the Mexican Pizza during her April 17 performance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
“I brought back the Mexican Pizza, by the way,” Doja Cat shouted in the middle of a song. (The recording artist had partnered with Taco Bell on a recent campaign.)
What Doja failed to mention, though, is that the Mexican Pizza won’t officially return to Taco Bell’s menu until May 19. But when it does, Taco Bell is planning to offer coupon codes, combo deals and more sustainable packaging with flashier graphics — which is about as much pizzazz as fans could hope to expect, aside from olives and green onions.