Taco Bell has some of the most creative menu items in fast food.
There’s an intricate system behind items like the company’s new Waffle Taco, writes Venessa Wong at Bloomberg Businessweek.
Wong spent some time at Taco Bell’s headquarters to learn more about how it creates new products. The brand employs about 40 people on its innovation team.
This team spends time in grocery stores, on social media, and in competitors’ restaurants for inspiration.
Taco Bell’s development team reviews up to 4,500 new product ideas every year, Wong writes. Many are created in the company’s test kitchen and tested by employees.
Of those, 350-500 end up in consumer tests and 8-10 end up on the national menu.
The brand went through more than 80 iterations of the Waffle Taco before ultimately deciding on one, Wong says.
Taco Bell went through a similar process for the Doritos Locos Taco, the best-selling item in company history.
“When the idea for the Doritos Locos Tacos came out of a collaborative ideation with Frito-Lay, we immediately saw the potential,” lead product developer Steve Gomez told Business Insider.
Gomez said the brand went through more than 40 recipes before it found a hit.
“The idea sounds really simple, but it has to deliver on two fronts: the classic Taco Bell taste and the distinctive Doritos experience,” Gomez said. “Unlike a tortilla chip, taco shells can’t break, and have to properly hold the taco ingredients.”
Gomez was eventually able to perfect the shell by using the same corn masa found in Doritos. He also discovered a process that would evenly distribute the seasoning on the shells. And the company found a way to contain the cheese dust in the production process.
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