There will be plenty of companies paying big bucks for TV ads to get noticed on Super Bowl Sunday, but Yum! Brands' (NYSE:YUM) Taco Bell seems to be doing better than most at building up the hype. The fast-food chain known for affordable Mexican eats where quantity often trumps quality is promising to unveil a new menu item as the Denver Broncos take on the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl 50 this weekend.
In theory, diehard fans of the chain will get in on the secret even earlier. In a clever ploy to promote its nascent online ordering platform, folks visiting Taco Bell's ultra-short URL -- Ta.Co -- can pre-order the signature item and pick it up on Saturday between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Those brave souls will be ordering Taco Bell's new item sight unseen, but is it really much of a leap of faith? Doesn't most of Taco Bell's fare taste the same anyway?
The only thing we know for sure is that pre-orders are being placed at $2.99, twice as much as the BOSS Nachos that it rolled out two months ago. This doesn't mean that it will be at the low end of the chain's pricing scale. Taco Bell offers several items for just a dollar.
There's naturally plenty of speculation about what the addition will be. Nation's Restaurant News breaks down the three leading contenders, based on items that have been recently tested out in select markets.
- Quesalupa -- a chalupa where melted pepper Jack cheese is stuffed into the crisp chalupa shell -- was tested out in three dozen Ohio locations early last year. Taco Bell called it one of the most successful tests in the chain's history, making it the odds-on favorite to be the new item going nationwide this weekend.
- Croissant Taco would be the latest addition to Taco Bell's breakfast offerings if it's the item unveiled. Taco Bell made a splash with the Waffle Taco when it rolled out a national breakfast menu two years ago. It mixed things up by replacing the waffle shell to push out the Biscuit Taco. Making the move to Croissant Taco -- a breakfast taco blanketed by a flaky croissant -- would be a logical evolutionary step.
- Finally we have the Naked Crispy Chicken Taco, a taco where the corn or flour tortilla shell is actually made of fried chicken. We've seen Yum! Brands use chicken as a bread substitute at KFC. Why wouldn't it give it a shot at Taco Bell?
We'll find out what the winner is soon enough. It will naturally start making the social media rounds on Saturday afternoon as early adopters pick up their mystery items, long before the Super Bowl spot even airs. Then again, that's also the point of the promotion. Taco Bell is using the big game to promote the new menu item, but perhaps more importantly its mobile and online ordering app. It's how you play to win the game no matter which team ultimately comes out on top.