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Taco Bell creates feel-good ad after delivering 10,000 tacos to Bethel, Alaska

Ben Anderson

It's easy to be snarky about the hoax in the Southwest Alaska community of Bethel that made national headlines in June -- a prankster posted fliers around town that claimed a Taco Bell was coming to the remote community, elevating hopes among the 6,000 residents.

A Taco Bell opening wouldn't mean much to those in more-populated areas. But in Bethel, where the cost of living is high and food options are few, the thought of a (relatively) low-priced, fast-food dining opportunity raised excitement.

Responding to the unfortunate prank that got out of hand, Taco Bell announced that it would deliver 10,000 tacos to the community, which was a logistic feat by itself: Bethel is off the road system, meaning the only access to the community is by air or boat.

So Taco Bell, in a dramatic fashion that wasn't entirely unwarranted, airlifted a truck bearing the logo of its Doritos Locos taco -- a taco with a shell made of Doritos chips -- to the community.

Residents turned out in droves, waiting in line for their chance at free tacos. On Monday, Taco Bell released a feel-good video of the delivery, what the company referred to as "Operation: Alaska."

And while the easy thing to do would be to make light of Taco Bell using the opportunity to build its brand, the fact remains that they delivered on their promise, out of no obligation to anyone in Bethel in the wake of the prank perpetrated by a local. Former Bethel Mayor Hugh Dyment told Alaska Dispatch that he suspected the footage taken on the day of the delivery might turn into some promotional material, but he didn't seem to mind. 

Judging by the turnout in Bethel, not many did.

Radio station KYUK in Bethel reports that Taco Bell will be able to use the goodwill in the form of a television spot on Wednesday night's Major League Baseball All-Star game. Any Alaskans hoping to catch a glimpse of themselves or their friends from Bethel on national television should tune in for the game beginning at about 4:15 p.m.

Contact Ben Anderson at ben(at)alaskadispatch.com