Taco Bell is about to go national with chalupa shells made out of fried chicken

Shell shocked.
Shell shocked.
Image: Reuters/Toru Hanai
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Taco Bell has long sought a way to unlock one particular door to one of America’s culinary favorites: fried chicken. Now in its characteristically wacky style, the Mexican-themed fast-food chain has found a path to make its mark.

Imagine: A chalupa, only with a shell made out of fried chicken instead of a tortilla. The product concept is coming from the same people who created a breakfast taco that used a waffle for a shell, and a taco shell from a big, over-sized Doritos chip. The latter product—the Doritos Locos Taco—earned the company more than $1 billion within 20 months of its launch, becoming the most popular menu item in the chain’s history.

The new chalupa—which becomes available Jan. 26—is a way for the company to take advantage of America’s love for fried chicken. According to Bloomberg, the division of Yum! Brands Inc. has been experimenting with fried chicken products to find something new to add to the menu.

It makes sense. Americans consume more chicken than beef or pork, and have for nearly two decades.

Americans are expected to eat 91.7 pounds of chicken per capita in 2017, according to data by the National Chicken Council. The animal protein is so popular that fried versions of it are appearing on more menus across the US in both premium and lower-end restaurants. Popular chef David Chang added an $8 chicken sandwich to the menu at Fuku in New York City, for instance. The chalupa at Taco Bell will go for considerably less, just $2.99.