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Enchirito (Spanish pronunciation: [entʃiˈɾito]) is the trademarked name of Taco Bell's menu item of the Tex-Mex food similar to an enchilada. It is composed of a flour tortilla filled with seasoned ground beef taco meat (with options to substitute steak or chicken), beans, diced onions, cheddar cheese, and "red sauce".
There is an unsubstantiated claim that the Enchirito was invented in 1967 by a high school student in Montebello, CA. The student, Robert McCrea, was awarded a certificate and $25.00 by Taco Bell for his creation which when submitted was called the Burlotta, later changed to the Enchirito by Taco Bell. [better source needed]
The Enchirito was originally made by a high school student in East Los Angeles in 1968. It was part of the promotion by Taco Bell for employee ideas. Robert McCrea, then 16, was recognized for his flour tortilla covered burrito with sauce and cheese, which he had named a burlotta. For his submission, Mr. McCrea received a certificate and a $25.00 dollar cash reward. As reported in the Los Angeles Times food section, the Montebello News food section, July 1968, and the Montebello - Whittier Daily News July, 1968 local section.[better source needed]
The coining of the name Enchirito (a portmanteau of the words enchilada and burrito) for this item was a bit of a peculiar action by Taco Bell. It was the only item on the menu, at the time, to not use the common Mexican food nomenclature for that item. Whereas a burrito is typically a flour tortilla filled with beans, and an enchilada is typically a corn tortilla filled with meat and smothered in chile sauce, the name Enchirito communicates the combination of these elements. On the other hand, it appears the unusual name was not to help Americans unfamiliar with the Spanish names of the food items; indeed, for many years Taco Bell menu boards featured a system of phonetic pronunciation guides next to each item.
Even after the Enchirito was officially discontinued in 1993, some customers still ordered them, and word spread through the Internet that many restaurants would still make them with the ingredients they had available. Due to this underground popularity, it was decided to bring it back, and commercials, featuring the Taco Bell chihuahua promoting the Enchirito, began airing on December 26, 1999, with later commercials in mid-2000 featuring the rapping or singing styles of the "five guys with no talent". However, some things about the item had changed. The serving container had become a coated pressed-paper oblong bowl when dining in, or a black plastic bowl with a clear plastic lid if ordering from the drive-thru. Most significantly, the character of the dish was altered by changing the yellow corn masa tortilla to a white wheat flour tortilla. The sliced olives were omitted. The chicken Enchirito and the steak Enchirito, which respectively substitute chicken or steak for the ground beef, were also introduced as options. The Enchirito is served with a plastic spork. The Enchirito was once again discontinued when Taco Bell introduced the Smothered Burrito on July 25, 2013.