Recipe: The Perfect Cross Between a Crunchwrap and a Big Mac

A loving nod to two fast-food staples at home in your own kitchen

August 2, 2023 7:17 am
Hippo Pockets make something that resembles a Taco Bell creation.
Hippo Pockets makes an elevated version of a Taco Bell specialty.

According to an abandoned patent that was filed in 2007 by Taco Bell, a Crunchwrap is a “comestible wrap product” featuring a “flexible outer skin wrapped around a relatively rigid backbone and one or more additional ingredients.” The skin is “grilled to resist unfolding” and holds together the backbone and any other ingredients.

Unveiled two years before the patent was filed and installed as a permanent fixture on Taco Bell’s menu in 2006, the Crunchwrap Supreme and its “Good to go!” slogan were an instant hit with dashboard diners, and the driver-friendly hexagonal package of tortilla, ground beef, cheese sauce, crunchy tostada shell, lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream sold 51 million units in its first six weeks on the market, according to The New Yorker.

Dreamed up by Taco Bell product developer Lois Carson and pitched to company executives a decade before it found its way onto the menu, the Crunchwrap was compared to engineering marvels like smartwatches and MP3s in one of the Mexican fast-food chain’s early ad campaigns for the revolutionary wrap.

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When restaurateur Jami Olson’s Minnesota eatery Centro served a homemade version of Carson’s tasty tortilla masterpiece during a Taco Bell-themed pop-up at a local brewery a few years ago, the handheld creation was a massive hit, and the event made the local news. The success was both a blessing and a curse because the pop-up drew a large crowd — and a cease-and-desist order from Taco Bell.

Olson and her team complied, but they didn’t forget the popularity of the item. So, when Olson was looking for a way to boost sales when the pandemic restricted the restaurant to serving takeout, Centro did a Taco Bell-themed pickup pop-up. “We renamed everything and protected ourselves legally so they wouldn’t come after us. It was a huge success again,” Olson tells InsideHook. “We didn’t want to convert our entire menu to Taco Bell items, but we decided to keep some of them. The Centro Crunch has been on our menu ever since. It’s a huge seller for us.”

When the Centro team took control of a huge commissary kitchen with lots of space, they decided to experiment with a ghost kitchen brand inspired by the success of the Crunch. Hence, Hippo Pockets was born.

Hippo Pockets' Royale with Cheese.
Hippo Pockets’ Royale with Cheese is a culinary masterpiece.
Lauren Cutshall

Serving Hot Pocket-esque versions of the Taco Bell item that will no longer be named, Hippo Pockets’ culinary creations are packed with fillings like pepperoni, cheese and garlic bread, chicken tenders, bacon and ranch, and chicken, waffles and BBQ sauce. Though the menu at Hippo Pockets does have one item packing the familiar combination of seasoned beef and queso with lettuce and tomato, Olson intentionally steered the menu away from its below-the-border roots.

“We wanted a wide variety of items, not just Mexican flavors. We really wanted to make Hippo Pockets its own thing so people might not make the connection back to Taco Bell,” Olson says. “There was a lot of trial and error. If you don’t get the textures correct, everything kind of becomes a mushy pile in the tortilla vessel. Chicken and waffles isn’t a new thing, but chicken and waffles in a tortilla is something different. Making it a little bit weirder and clunkier brings it to the next level, which is what we’re trying to do.”

Made with hamburger, lettuce, pickles, onions, French fries, American cheese and special sauce, the Royale with Cheese is an offering from Hippo Pockets that nods to a popular fast-food item featuring a pair of all-beef patties on a seasame-seed bun.

“We’re definitely leaning into what everybody knows because that’s what everybody’s comfortable with. Nostalgia is always a crowd pleaser, People can relate to something they remember from life,” Olson says. “It has very approachable flavors and it’s meant to be pretty simple and fun and not overthought. It’s flavor profile that you’re expecting, but wrapped in a tortilla blanket.”

Bundle up for fourth meal.

Royale with Cheese

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 mins

Servings: One wrap

  • Ingredients for the Royale with Cheese
  • 4 oz. Hamburger patty (high fat content grind works best, like 75/25 in a ball shape)
  • 1/4 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
  • Store-bought French fries (any shape will do but we use thinner ones for the crunch)
  • 4 pieces sliced kosher dill pickles
  • 2 tbsp. raw white onion, small dice
  • 4 oz. Special Sauce, plus more for dipping
  • 2 slices American cheese
  • 1 12” flour tortilla
  • Ingredients for the Special Sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup pickle juice
  • 1 cup mayo
  • Dash or more of hot sauce
  • Pinch of salt
    1. Combine Special Sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Prepare the French fries.

    2. Next, griddle the hamburger. Push the hamburger ball down on a hot griddle with no oil (because you want it to stick).

    3. Smash the hamburger ball with a couple of spatulas to make it flat (about 1/4” thick patty). Season the top liberally with salt and pepper.

    4. Cook the burger until the top of the meat begins to gray. Flip once you get to this stage and try to get all the caramelized crust off the griddle. Add a slice of cheese after you flip and then get ready to assemble.

    5. Warm your tortilla on the griddle quickly, about 10 seconds a side and place on a clean surface off the heat. 

    6. Drizzle half the special sauce and add one slice of American cheese, raw onions, pickles and shredded lettuce onto the tortilla.

    7. Season your hot fries and add these above with the remaining amount of special sauce over the top of the fries.

    8. Top with your cheeseburger and fold it up in a hexagonal shape before chowing down.


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