Fritos tacos? Taco Bell searches for its next junk food mashup

Don’t worry, the Doritos Locos tacos are not part of the reformulation.
Don’t worry, the Doritos Locos tacos are not part of the reformulation.
Image: Flickr user jslander
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Even as McDonald’s tries to go highbrow with its “artisan” chicken sandwich, Taco Bell continues to stick with its decidedly low-brow menu strategy. The company that brought you the Doritos Locos Tacos and the Waffle Taco (since ditched for a full line of biscuit tacos) is now testing out at least three more menu items aimed squarely at the late-night munchies customer.

Those lucky enough to find themselves in Memphis, Tennessee can try the highly anticipated Fritos tacos, hinted at in the December 2014 Yum! Brands presentation to its investors. For just $1.49, taco lovers can throw off the shackles of boring old taco shells, and replace them with a salty, Fritos exterior. But wait, there’s more: There’s also a chili cheese flavored Fritos shell. Finally!

Meanwhile, in Michigan, one Taco Bell customer spotted new Fritos Burrito flavors. In addition to “beefy,” there’s now a Chili Fritos Burrito and a Cheesy Jalapeño Fritos Burrito. Because, honestly, why not?

And last but not least, Taco Bell in Bellevue, Nebraska is trying a new spin on the age-old Mexican menu staple: nachos. Potato Crisp Nachos are like regular nachos, but with “thin crispy potato slices” instead of been-there-done-that tortilla chips. Sadly, the potato slices did not reach optimal crispness for one Nebraska customer. “They were good! My only complaint is that the potatoes were sliced too thin to be French fry-like, but not cooked enough to be totally crispy. They had crispy edges but were chewy in the middle,” reported Ryan (no last name given) to The Impulsive Buyer. Well, that’s what testing is all about.

The other thing testing is all about: Money. And the plan seems to be working. In its earnings released last week, Yum! Brands reported that Taco Bell sales increased 9%, attributing 3% to unit growth and 6% to same-store sales growth—despite Yum! Brands’ overall 12% decline in same-store sales in China. (In addition to Taco Bell, Yum! Brands also operates Pizza Hut and KFC.)

McDonald’s, which reported a 2.3% decline in global sales last week, might want to pay attention.

The photograph at the top of this post was taken by jslander and shared under a Creative Commons license on Flickr. The image has been cropped.