Taco Bell Doritos: There's a 'Taco Bell' flavor. Really.
Taco Bell Doritos will roll out as limited-time offer this spring. Taco Bell Doritos are only the latest collaboration between Yum Brands and PepsiCo.
Jim R. Bounds/AP/File
The snack food giant plans to roll out its¬†Doritos¬†in a "Taco¬†Bell" flavor as a limited-time product this spring, aiming to capitalize on the popularity of the Doritos-flavored¬†tacos¬†introduced by the fast-food chain last year.
Frito-Lay says it will be the first time since the 1990s that it has offered¬†Doritos¬†branded with the logo of a national restaurant chain.
Nacho Cheese¬†Doritos¬†Locos¬†Tacos¬†has been one of the biggest new menu items in recent times, with Taco¬†Bell¬†selling more than 300 million of the¬†tacos¬†with flavored shells since their introduction in March.
They were such a hit that¬†Taco¬†Bell¬†postponed a follow-up Cool Ranch flavor to early this year to make sure there was enough capacity to make the shells. The chain also plans to introduce a¬†taco¬†in "Flamas" flavor, a Doritos¬†variety available only in select regions of the country.
The offerings reflect the unique bonds between Yum Brands Inc., which owns¬†Taco¬†Bell, and PepsiCo Inc., which owns Frito-Lay. PepsiCo spun off¬†Taco¬†Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut more than 15 years ago, but the three chains still serve PepsiCo drinks, and executives collaborate in other ways to boost their respective fortunes.
The idea for the¬†Doritos¬†Locos¬†Tacos, for example, came about in early 2010 when¬†Taco¬†Bell¬†CEO Greg Creed visited Frito-Lay executives in Plano, Texas, to discuss how to celebrate the chain's upcoming 50th anniversary in 2012. Since Frito-Lay didn't have a production line for the flavored shells at the time, the Doritos¬†seasoning was sprayed onto regular¬†taco¬†shells so executives could get of sense of how they'd taste. Creed said he knew right away it would be a hit.
"You know you've got a big idea when you don't have to explain it," said Creed, who has been with the restaurant chains since they were owned by PepsiCo. Creed noted that the mutual trust between the companies meant the project was based on "a handshake" in the early days.
Doritos¬†Locos¬†Tacos¬†now account for about a quarter of all¬†taco¬†sales at¬†Taco¬†Bell, according to Creed. Without giving details, Frito-Lay North America Chief Marketing Officer Ann Mukherjee said in a separate interview that Doritos¬†Locos¬†Tacos¬†have also boosted sales volume for Frito-Lay, which supplies¬†taco¬†shells for¬†Taco¬†Bell.
A variety of flavors were tested for the¬†Doritos¬†Locos¬†Tacos¬†before executives settled on Nacho Cheese, which is by far the most popular¬†Doritos¬†flavor (Cool Ranch is second). But Frito-Lay didn't want its¬†Doritos¬†name on just any¬†taco¬†shell, so it created a special, crunchier shell for the¬†Doritos¬†Locos¬†Tacos.
"They wanted it to have that teeth-rattling crunch," Creed said.
To mimic the taste of¬†Doritos¬†Locos¬†Tacos, Mukherjee said the¬†Taco¬†Bell-branded¬†Doritos¬†this spring will be a combination of Nacho Cheese flavor and¬†taco¬†flavor. Frito-Lay plans to release a Cool Ranch¬†Taco¬†version at the same, which could be intended to capitalize on the much-anticipated rollout of¬†Taco¬†Bell's¬†Cool Ranch shells.¬†Taco¬†Bell¬†hasn't specified when it will release its¬†Doritos¬†Locos¬†Tacos¬†in that flavor, however.
The partnership is likely to continue paying off for both companies, with Creed saying¬†Taco¬†Bell¬†plans to keep looking for new¬†Doritos¬†flavors for its¬†tacos.¬†Taco¬†Bell¬†also works with PepsiCo to offer unique soft drinks, such as Mountain Dew Baja Blast.
The enduring relationship between PepsiCo and Yum was even captured in an exchange on Twitter last fall when Pepsi tried to engage customers on Twitter by asking them to fill in the blank: "After school snack: Pepsi and ______."
Taco¬†Bell¬†responded with the suggestion, "Taco¬†Bell."
Pepsi shot back with, "There's no better answer. (hash)truth."
The exchange was mocked by the website BuzzFeed as "The Saddest Moment in Twitter History," but it also highlights the unusual ties between the two companies.