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Obnoxious Product Placement: Three Square Meals of Taco Bell


In Demolition Man, everyone runs for the border.


Hollywood has always portrayed a fanciful version of the future, often at the expense of logic.

Back to the Future Part II alleged that, by 2015, there would be flying cars, hoverboards and no lawyers. Minority Report offered up jet packs and precognitive crime fighters in time for 2054. And The Fifth Element, well, let's just say 2263 will be loonier than a Warner Bros. cartoon.

But one feature of a dystopian future is too nightmarish to even consider: Taco Bell (YUM) wins the restaurant franchise war.

Taco Bell? Really?

This would be the same Taco Bell responsible for the Bacon Club Chalupa, the Fast Food Freestyle and a talking chihuahua? Say it ain't so.

Well, Warner Bros. (TWX) released a movie that had the gall to suggest just such a scenario.

In 1993's Demolition Man, Sylvester Stallone plays Sergeant John Spartan, a hero cop whoobnoxious -- allow me to save you the suspense -- doesn't play by the rules. After being framed for involuntary manslaughter, Spartan is cryonically frozen, only to be re-animated in the year 2032.

His beloved Los Angeles is now a nanny state, where the use of profanity results in fines, procreation occurs only in a lab and murder -- or "non-sanctioned life termination" -- is unheard-of. The most popular station plays only dated commercial jingles. You know, all very likely scenarios.

Halfway through the film, Spartan is invited by the mayor-governor to a night of fine dining at Taco Bell. He's appropriately incredulous. Why would an elder statesman invite a recently- unfrozen supercop to such a crass, commercialized establishment ?

Simple. As Sandra Bullock's character, Lelina Huxley, explains, "Now all restaurants are Taco Bell." That damn franchise war again.

Sometime between 1996, when Spartan was frozen, and 2032, every single restaurant folded. McDonald's (MCD), Burger King (BKC), Applebee's (DIN) - even Arby's couldn't compete with the Fresco Crunchy Taco and Cheesarito. Sexual prohibition makes perfect sense, but this?

Officer Huxley further intimates that the city has banned anything that might be considered bad for you, like caffeine, meat, spicy food and table salt. Hmmm. Aren't most of those ingredients the very life blood of Taco Bell?

Interestingly, in Europe, the studio went in a different direction, digitally editing out the Taco Bell logo and replacing it with fellow Yum! Brands chain Pizza Hut. Any mention of Taco Bell was similarly dubbed.

The futuristic world in Demolition Man would take some getting used to - at least a day or 2 to acclimate to police officers who sing along to the Armour Hot Dog jingle and vomit openly upon seeing a homicide. But it's doubtful anyone could bear to spend even a single night out eating at Taco Bell.

Now, pass me the 3 seashells.

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