Taco Bell Quarterly is one of those special phenomena that you can’t help but respect. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past 2 months, or don’t have twitter, TBQ is a literary magazine inspired by Taco Bell. It does not appear to be a joke. Nor does it appear to be too serious. It is genuine. Once the public at-large discovered TBQ, the editor was interviewed on television and several articles and interviews were written about/with them. It has been called “The top 2020 literary magazine.” These are their stories.


MM: Was it always Taco Bell? Did you ever consider foods outside Tex-Mex, or chain sit-down restaurants? Applebee’s Quarterly Journal, Culver Cavalier, Roy Rogers Review e.g.


MM Carrigan (TBQ): FIRST IDEA BEST IDEA. Yes, it was always Taco Bell. I am eagerly awaiting the first rival chain restaurant zine to pop up.


You’ve been sending tacos in return for screenshots of rejections. What other food-literati exchanges would you like to see?


People should get Edible Bouquets and Hickory Farms Beef Bonanzas for their first publications, in anything. Happy Pub Day, here’s a beef log and some sketchy cheese that doesn’t need to be refrigerated.


You’ve been written about in some major news outlets, NYPost, Vox, as well as literary sites like lithub. What publication do you wish would profile TBQ and why?


I want The New Yorker and Paris Review.


How often do you “ring the bell“?


Once a week, minimum. No shame.


Why do you think TBQ has gotten so much press recently?


I didn’t even know what zeitgeist meant before I started this project, but people keep telling me I tapped into it, which is an invisible agent influencing an epoch of modern history. BRB, gotta go look up epoch. But yeah, it has something to do with the zeitgeist.


If you could be on the board of any literary prize and have a vote, which would it be, and why?


I have a fraught relationship to writing awards and prizes. I personally want to win all of them as a writer, and keep them in a golden vault where I can swim among them like Scrooge McDuck. I’m mad when I don’t win prizes that I didn’t apply for or even knew existed. Maybe that’s an idea, a Taco Bell Quarterly Big Important Prize for Literature, that we’ll bestow to someone who doesn’t even apply. We’re just storm their yard like Publisher’s Clearinghouse with all the cameras and a big check. That was my biggest childhood dream, to have one of those big checks show up in our yard. I want to create hope like that. The big prestigious awards stifle the hope in a lot of writers, because it feels like it will just never happen. On the other hand, I still kind of feel like the Prize Patrol might knock on my door.


Diablo:Fire! as The TBQ is to:


The Paris Review
The New Yorker
PANK magazine
_________ Your answer here


The Paris Review. They’re circled on my Arya Stark kill list. I’m kidding. I really just want them to respond for comment on the Taco Bell Quarterly. The entire literary world awaits.


Screenshot of Taco Bell Parent Company Stock

As you can see in the attached chart, Yum Brands, parent company to Taco Bell, has made a decent recovery in spite of the global pandemic in the last month. What part do you think TBQ has played in this?


I mean, writing does make you hungry…


Would you teach at a low-residency MFA program if given the opportunity, and why?


Based on what I’ve learned having my children home 24/7 in the pandemic, I would be a terrible teacher. I do have a memoir with craft elements that will hopefully exist in the world soon though.


What advice do you have for the young, upstart Taco Bell/creative?


Scare the world, break the rules, eat the rejection.


If there is a heaven, what would you want St. Peter to tell you when you arrived at the pearly gates?


Yes, we have beer, all of your childhood pets, and free Michael Jackson concerts.


M.M. Carrigan is the writer of the blog The Surfing Pizza and grande editor supreme of Taco Bell Quarterly, the literary magazine for the Taco Bell Arts and Letters. They enjoy staring directly into the sun and hula hooping. Find them on Twitter @thesurfingpizza.
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