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Mexican Pizza, beloved by South Asian Americans, is coming back to Taco Bell

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Fans of Taco Bell's Mexican pizza received good news this week. The food chain is bringing back the beloved menu item.

RIMA PARIKH: You have the two, like, fried tortillas that are, like, kind of glued together with the beans or the meat, whatever you want to do.

SHAPIRO: That's comedian and writer Rima Parikh, who wrote an essay professing her love for the Mexican pizza.

PARIKH: The top, there's, like, the cheese. There's the tomatoes. They used to have green onions. They don't have those anymore.

DANIEL ESTRIN, HOST:

Of course, there's no such thing in true Mexican cuisine, but Taco Bell's creation has developed a strong following, especially among South Asian Americans. The disappointment ran deep when it was pulled from the menu about a year and a half ago. Taco Bell said it wanted to make way for new menu items. But Parikh was lost without her go-to that she'd even customized.

PARIKH: I would swap out the meat with beans. And then a little bit later on, I started adding potatoes and nacho cheese sauce.

SHAPIRO: That ability to customize the Mexican pizza is part of what made it popular among South Asian Americans.

PARIKH: People's parents moved here in the '80s and the '90s. They didn't have, like, a lot of, you know, options for, like, fast-food, especially if, like they ate vegetarian, which, you know, you could do for a variety of reasons, like you don't eat beef, or, like, you're trying to eat halal.

SHAPIRO: So Taco Bell, where you could swap the beef for beans, became the place to go.

ESTRIN: Krish Jagirdar, who got hooked on the Mexican pizza as a kid, says the spicy flavors also appeal to Indian Americans.

KRISH JAGIRDAR: So I think in a lot of ways, it's kind of like as close as they can get to, like, Indian fast food while still being, you know, obviously part of American culture.

ESTRIN: When Taco Bell removed the Mexican pizza from the menu, Jagirdar started a change.org petition to bring it back. He says it spread like wildfire.

JAGIRDAR: I'm talking about like old Indian uncles and aunties, like, that are, like, sharing it in their groups.

SHAPIRO: He got more than 170,000 signatures. And last week, to Jagirdar's surprise, Taco Bell got in touch to thank him for stoking the movement and to tell him that the Mexican pizza hits menus again on May 19. Both he and Parikh have the day marked on their calendars.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.