A year after launching its most successful menu item in company history, Irvine-based Taco Bell announced the launch date for its next Doritos Locos Taco flavor.
Cool Ranch shells are coming to Taco Bell restaurants nationwide March 7, the fast-food company said Wednesday morning.
Taco Bell Cool Ranch tacos were tested in various markets last year, including Orange County.
Taco Bell Chief executive Greg Creed said the chain wanted to launch Cool Ranch last year, but the rollout had to be put off due to demand for the nacho cheese tacos. To date, Taco Bell has sold more than 350 million tacos dusted with the flavors of Doritos Nacho Cheese.
"There has been enormous interest in the new Cool Ranch flavor of Doritos Locos Tacos and people are wondering why it took so long," Creed said in a prepared statement. "However, the demand for Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Tacos was so strong that we worked closely with our partner Frito-Lay to increase our capacity and meet the needs of both Doritos Cool Ranch and Nacho Cheese fans."
In 2011, Taco Bell proclaimed it would be reinventing the taco – a move that would help bolster sluggish sales. The much-hyped Doritos taco, a crunchy seasoned beef taco served in a nacho cheese-flavored shell, debuted last March.
It became an overnight sensation. The taco, served in a taco holster, was even spotlighted on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."
Taco Bell, whose parent company is Yum Brands, sold 100 million in the first 10 weeks. Yum also operates KFC and Pizza Hut. Last year, Taco Bell was Yum's best domestic performer. Taco Bell's same-store sales, a key indicator of a retailer's financial health, increased 8 percent for the year, Yum reported last week. For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 29, Taco Bell same-store sales were up 5 percent compared to the same period a year ago.
Frito-Lay, Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Taco partner, also is taking advantage of the renewed interest in its brand.
Two weeks ago, Frito-Lay said it planned to launch a new chip dusted with the flavors of Taco Bell's seasoned beef. The "mixed bag" of chips, which debuts in April, also will contain the company's classic Doritos nacho cheese chips.
Taco Bell said the Cool Ranch product launch will involve the "largest marketing campaign" in the company's history. Details were not revealed about the campaign. The chain has tested other Doritos flavors, including Flamas.
A regular Cool Ranch taco will cost $1.39.