Fast food

Taco Bell's newest shell: One giant, spicy Dorito

Aug. 15, 2013 at 8:44 AM ET

Taco Bell on Tuesday announced it will start selling Fiery Doritos Locos Tacos as of Aug. 22.
Taylor Strategy
Taco Bell announced it will start selling Fiery Doritos Locos Tacos as of Aug. 22.

If you’ve figured out a way to sell 600 million Doritos-flavored tacos nationally within 18 months, what’s your next move?

If you’re Taco Bell, you crank up the heat and add another flavor.

Taco Bell says it will start selling Fiery Doritos Locos Tacos on Aug. 22.

Think spicy chili, lime and lingering heat. The Doritos are a deep red, a shade probably somewhat difficult to find naturally occurring in nature.

The first two flavors in the series have already become the brand’s most successful product platform in its history.

“Launching the first two Doritos Locos Tacos were obvious,” Taco Bell President Brian Niccol said in a statement announcing the new flavor. “Nacho Cheese is the top-selling Doritos flavor and our fans asked us for Cool Ranch. For the third DLT, we heard our customers as they told us they wanted something spicy and with flavor.”

A Taco Bell spokesperson said the Fiery flavor will be exclusive to the restaurant , however “it is closest to Flamas, which is available in select regions in the U.S.”

A Doritos spokeswoman said Fiery flavor is nearly identical to its Flamas chips, which has been available at least since 2011. "The new Fiery Doritos Locos Taco product mirrors the flavors fans enjoy from Doritos Flamas flavored tortilla chips," she said.

"A few changes were made to create Fiery Doritos Locos Tacos including the use of a red shell, and a more descriptive name," the Doritos spokeswoman told CNBC via email.

“People's palettes’ have really evolved, people are looking for a lot of spice,” said chef Richard Sandoval, who runs 37 restaurants and is featured on the current season “Top Chef Masters” on Bravo, which is owned by NBC Universal. “I’ve seen it in my own restaurants. Ten years ago, people weren’t looking for heat.”

Sandoval runs restaurants – such as Maya in New York City and Masa 14 in Washington, D.C.-- that often feature Mexican, Latin-Asian, Colombian, Peruvian and Pan-Latin flavors. Sandoval, whose restaurants are far more upscale than Taco Bell, is nonetheless a fan of the concept, he said. He consulted with the restaurant years ago, but is not affiliated with the current launch. 

“I think Mexican has evolved in the last 10 to 15 years immensely and they’ve just leapt on that,” he said. “It’s brilliant what they did,” by reinventing themselves with the Doritos shells on one end of the menu and more authentic Mexican food on the other.

The new Taco Bell tacos will sell for $1.39 each and $1.69 for a supreme size. The regular will contain 170 calories and 10g of total fat; the supreme will have 200 calories and 12g of total fat, according to the company.

Taco Bell is owned by Louisville, Ky.-based Yum! Brands, Inc., which owns Pizza Hut and KFC. Doritos is owned by Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo.

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