Taco Bell has never been strictly bound by the constraints of classic Mexican food. The chain has experimented with its menu, leading to items like its Mexican pizza and a taco that uses fried chicken as a shell.
This is a company that also has created passionate fan reactions (including lawsuits) by removing items from its menu. The Yum Brands (YUM) – Get Yum! Brands, Inc. Report chain might not be quite as outrageous as its sister brand KFC, which has released everything from lip gloss to a pillow, but Taco Bell has been willing to experiment with its menu and create new fan favorites even if they’re not quite traditional Mexican classics.
Taco Bell also loves something that gets attention. That’s why it brought back the Choco Taco and why it has offered a variety of drinks featuring various flavors of Mountain Dew. (PEP) – Get PepsiCo, Inc. Report
This is a chain that’s willing to do the outrageous and push the boundaries of what should be on its menu. The biggest example of that might be its nacho fries, a decidedly Taco Bell take on a fast-food staple.
Now, Taco Bell has leveraged those fries to create something new. And it’s done so in a way that some McDonald’s (MCD) – Get McDonald’s Corporation Report, Wendy’s (WEN) – Get Wendy’s Company Report, and Restaurant Brand International’s (QSR) – Get Restaurant Brands International Inc Report Burger King fans do on their own.
Taco Bell Has Something New
Taco Bell might be the fast-food chain most willing to experiment with its menu. It seems to offer endless takes on the same ingredients and that’s essentially what it’s doing with its latest menu item, the steak nacho fries burrito.
This new menu monstrosity sort of borrows the concept that Pittsburgh’s Primanti Brothers made famous — put the french fries on the sandwich instead of serving them as a side dish.
That’s a menu hack that McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s fans have done on their own for years. It’s also a logical fit with a burrito since burritos often contain potastoes.
“The new steak nacho fries burrito features steak, nacho cheese sauce, chipotle sauce, shredded cheese, reduced-fat sour cream, diced tomatoes, and seasoned fries wrapped up in a warm flour tortilla,” Brand Eating reported.
That’s a give-them-what-they-want take on an idea a Taco Bell fan had during a late-night visit after one too many adult beverages. It’s a mashup of favorites that seems both excessive and extremely necessary.
Eating a Steak Nacho Fries Burrito will pile 520 calories on to you and set you back $3.49 (though prices may vary). Both nacho fries and the steak nacho fries burrito will be available for a limited time.
Taco Bell Really Wants Your Attention
Menu innovation has been a sales driver for Taco Bell. During its fourth-quarter earnings call, Yum Chief Executive David Gibbs cited a number of limited-time offers and special deals as helping the company’s sales.
Fourth-quarter system sales grew 11% with same-store sales growth of 8% or 9% on a two-year basis, reflecting an acceleration from Q3. Taco Bell kicked off the quarter by introducing the new Cantina Crispy Melt Taco and later in the quarter brought back the Grilled Cheese Burrito, featuring a grilled and bubbly blend of real cheddar, mozzarella and pepper jack cheeses. Additionally, the team kept value front and center with the launch of a new Crave More Value Menu featuring the $2 burritos. In addition, we launched a new lineup of toasted breakfast burritos as a way to welcome customers back to our breakfast daypart.
Nacho fries take that menu innovation to the next level, bringing in an item that’s not a classic Mexican menu favorite and putting the Taco Bell spin on it.
Taco Bell has also used its menu innovation to drive customers to its digital sales platform. That’s something every fast-food chain has tried to do — digital sales and online orders cost less to fulfill — and Taco Bell has had a lot of success doing it, according to Gibbs.
“Taco Bell fans continue to adopt digital ordering channels as we set digital sales records in both the U.S. and international this year,” he said.
“We will continue to bring distinctive products to life through our digital channels with early access to new products, digital-only campaigns, and loyalty rewards.”