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Apparently outlandishly priced hot sauce packets are an internet joke that refuses to die.

By Mike Pomranz
March 29, 2021
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I don't want to tell you how to spend your money. However, in a world where an NFT can sell for $69 million, things have gotten confusing, so I will suggest one piece of financial advice: Don't spend $25,000 on a Taco Bell hot sauce packet. And actually, if you do plan on buying Taco Bell hot sauce packets through an online auction, you should probably consider your purchases very carefully. Because selling Taco Bell hot sauce packets at outlandish prices on eBay is apparently a thing—and it's probably not a thing you want to get involved in.

As reported by Fox News (which brought this topic to the mainstream last week), eBay has dozens of listings for Taco Bell hot sauce packets—a search of that phrase brings up 179 results—and much of the pricing is, suffice to say, ridiculous. Look no further than the first two listings when you sort by highest price: one packet priced at $24,999.999 and another priced at $13,000—and funnily enough, they appear to be identical packets. Scroll a bit further and you can find the same packet for $50… but no, you're still not getting a good deal.

Taco Bell Menu Items, Headquarters And Restaurant Shoot
Credit: Joshua Blanchard / Stringer/Getty Images

The pretense of these exorbitant prices is that these packets are "very rare" because they contain "a misprint and [are] completely blank where there is usually a phrase," as the $50 seller explains it. However, as eBay itself proves, these packets are actually quite common—or at least common enough for at least three to be listed at the same time. (Anecdotal accounts suggest you can probably find three on a single trip to Taco Bell.)

And anyone wondering if these sellers are serious doesn't have to look further than the descriptions. "Found it the fifth time I ever ate there. If you give me money for it I'll probably go to Taco Bell more often tbh," writes the person hoping to make $25K off a packet of free hot sauce. Meanwhile, the $13K seller states that they will offer "FREE SHIPPING for Ballers fastest I can find maybe faster than something fast," and also mentions the packet is "My Last one!!!!"

So what do Taco Bell hot sauce packets really go for on eBay? Looking at completed listings, the picture becomes clearer: Yes, people are paying to purchase the free sauces on eBay, but typically at more reasonable prices. For instance, earlier this month, 100 Taco Bell Diablo packets sold for $14.95… and then were shipped to the United Kingdom, which probably explains the splurge. And yes, a couple of days ago, someone apparently paid $5.50 for "strange twin sealed" hot sauce packets. Is this packaging mistake worth it? Who knows. But unlike $24,999, the auction winner's buyer's remorse probably won't be too bad either way.

So, sure, some money can be made auctioning off free sauce packets on eBay. But that still doesn't explain how listing Taco Bell hot sauces on eBay reached its joke status. Granted, the internet has many rabbit holes, and almost anything can follow the often unexplainable path to becoming viral phenomenon.

However, it's also worth noting that this phenomenon is far from new: On the social news site Reddit, there's a post on "Blank Sauce Packets" with the user asking, "I was looking on ebay for Taco Bell memorabilia and kept seeing 'Rare Blank Misprint Taco Bell Sauce Packet' going for upwards of $50. It wasn't just one or two but dozens of listings for this." The consensus was that none of them knew what was happening either. That was four years ago.

We've reached out to Taco Bell for comment and will update if we hear back.