The company that decided Doritos would make for an excellent taco shell is working on a new burrito that involves another finger-staining snack.
Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM) has been testing a Cheetos Burrito, with plans to offer it in some Ohio restaurants in August, Nation's Restaurant News reported. Unlike the popular Doritos Locos Tacos, which use the snack chip flavoring in its shell, the new burrito will have the orange crunchy treat as part of its filling.
Offered in a normal burrito tortilla, according to NRN, the entree has seasoned meat, buttery rice, a cheese sauce, and the puffy cheese-flavored snack.
"You don't immediately see the Cheetos. But, when you take a bite, there they are, all crunchy in an otherwise rich and salty sea of flavors," wrote NRN's Lisa Jennings, who got to taste the new product at an event for reporters.
The test of the Cheetos Burrito comes after Restaurant Brands International's (NYSE:QSR) Burger King rolled out Mac n' Cheetos, a fried macaroni and cheese concoction in a crust using the snack product. Though the fast-food chain has not reported on sales of the new product, its launch received an enormous amount of media attention for the company.
Why is Taco Bell doing this?
While the publicity from offering something seemingly ridiculous does not hurt, there are also solid business reasons for trying to meld well-known snack products with fast-food items. Familiarity leads to sampling, which can create a hit as the Mexican chain has had with its Doritos Locos Tacos.
Taco Bell sold more than 450 million Doritos Locos Tacos in the first year or so after their 2012 launch. "We had to hire about 15,000 people last year -- two to three per restaurant -- in order to handle the sales growth and demand of the Doritos Locos Tacos business," Taco Bell CEO Greg Creed told Fast Company in 2013. The item remains very popular.
Products like these can bring back customers or even get new ones in the door. Cheetos has a fan base as does Taco Bell (probably with plenty of overlap). Marrying the two creates interest in a way that's hard for the company to duplicate with any other type of new product.
Is this going to work?
It's impossible to know if people will want a burrito with Cheetos as part of the filling on the same level they have taken to the Doritos line of tacos. But even if this latest offering does not become a major hit, it should be an attention-getter, driving traffic, and media coverage as Burger King has been able to do with its Cheetos-using snack item.
This is a publicity stunt that also has the potential to become a breakout hit. That's a no-risk proposition for Taco Bell, which suggests that consumers can expect a steady flow of snack-chip-based menu items.