Not Taco Bell Material is the fourth book written by Adam Carolla in 2012. Similar to his previous book In 50 Years We'll All Be Chicks, this is a collection of essays and humorous observations/stories, but unlike Chicks, it has an overall story narrative, detailing his early years from childhood through his early adult life as a carpenter and construction worker prior to breaking into show business.
Adam describes growing up poor in the North Hollywood area of Los Angeles, California, one of two children born to what's described as lazy and apathetic Hippie Parents. Having little interest in their son's life or activities, he talks about finding outlets in football and other "guy" pursuits, and how at odds it was with their outlook on life (luckily, they were too disinterested in him to put up a fuss about it). After graduating high school, he goes on to work a string of low-paying jobs in carpentry and construction, living in tiny apartments with various girlfriends and his loser friends from high school.
The book title is taken from a part of the book detailing his high school years and how he put in an application to work at Taco Bell, but never heard back from them.
This book provides examples of the following tropes:
- Bonus Material: The audio version of the book, read by Adam himself, is quite different, as he goes on different tangents from the written work while recording it.
- Childhood Friends: Or young adult. Adam was roommates and friends with Ralph Garman back when neither had yet to break into show biz. He was also friends with Joel Mc Hale early on, and knew a few famous or semi-famous Hollywood people from his neighborhood.
- Closet Sublet: His room growing up was the maintenance/gas meter room of his parent's tiny house. When his parents divored, he lived in an unfinished attic with no heat or air conditioning at his dad's. Later, his apartments in young adulthood are described similarly, often with several roommates.
- Dung Fu: Adam's childhood friend Ray was fond of playing pranks on his friends using his own fecal matter, once borrowing Adam's LA Rams beanie and returning it full of the substance.
- Glory Days: Adam is quite proud of his accomplishments playing football from grade through high school and cites it as what made him the man he is today.
- Hippie Parents: Adam's mom and dad are described as being very liberal west coast hippies, but also completely uninterested in their children, or working, or...well, anything, as far as he can tell.
- Never Learned to Read: Adam describes in the book growing up functionally illiterate, and how easy it was to fake it through high school and in his blue collar life. When he started working in radio, he had to make a concerted effort to improve in order to read copy.
- Road Trip Plot: A rather hilarious tale in the book is about as a young adult traveling to Tijuana in a crappy car with his friends with no money.
- The '70s: Much of the early part of the book is about growing up in this decade.
- Title Drop: In an early chapter from his teen years talking about applying for a job at the titular fast food chain and being rejected.Adam: I guess I wasn't Taco Bell material. How depressing is *that* for a 17 year old?
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Due to his parent's apathy towards him and especially his mother's downplaying constantly of anything he accomplished, it took him a long time to overcome this. He's still not completely over it.