Adorable kid’s Taco Bell birthday party sends Takeout staff into shame spiral

Photo: goce (iStock)

Natalie Grove asked for one thing for Christmas. When it came time to make a list for Santa, “All she wrote was ‘Taco Bell gift card, love, Natalie,’” her mom, Sarah Grove, told Fox 17 News West Michigan. The video of her opening it became a whole thing on the internet, as such things tend to do.

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This kid loves Taco Bell! So someone at Taco Bell sent her a bunch of merch! She was so happy! It’s cute!

The latest in the continuing saga of “Taco Bell Gift Card Girl” is this: The company invited Natalie to celebrate her fifth birthday at a ’Bell. It provided balloons, decorations, and a huge freakin’ taco hat party. Per Fox 17, this was the birthday girl’s reaction:

“I like being at Taco Bell,” said Natalie, who added that she wants to work for one of the restaurants when she gets older.

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That is a happy face. So why is the staff of The Takeout spiraling about this?

On the one hand, what’s the big deal? Cute kid likes Nacho Fries. She looks happy.

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On the other, Taco Bell seems to be taking that pure, unadulterated glee and turning it into a commercial, and brands are not your friends, and this is a corporate coopting of a young’s girl affinity for burritos. Why can’t we just have nice things? Why is she “TACO BELL GIFT CARD GIRL” and not Natalie? She has a name, internet.

On the weird third hand, here we are, writing about it. What is wrong with us? Why do we chase after every adorable centenarian fast food birthday? Are we not willing participants in this ghastly cycle? And having identified that cycle, are we not still writing about it? What’s wrong with us? What’s wrong with me? I studied poetry in college. Should I write a damn haiku about this ? Will that make it more palatable? If I’m going to climb this far up my own ass over a big taco hat, should it not be even more self-obsessed?

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Natalie grins wide
Upon her head, a foam crown
It’s not a sandwich

On the totally normal fourth hand, shouldn’t Natalie get to enjoy her totally normal Taco Bell-sponsored birthday? It’s her birthday, she can live más if she wants to.

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Harmless publicity stunt or overreaching corporatization of American childhood? The jury is still out. But this, reader, is certain: We need a nap.

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About the author

Allison Shoemaker

Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves television, bourbon, and dramatically overanalyzing social interactions.