Taco Bell is unleashing a wild new weapon in the fast-food fried chicken wars
Taco Bell is debuting a Chalupa that replaces a typical taco shell with fried chicken.
The long-awaited "Naked Chicken Chalupa" will be available at all Taco Bell locations across the US beginning January 26, the Mexican fast-food chain announced on Wednesday.
The new menu item's fried-chicken shell is made with white-meat chicken, which is filled with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, cheddar cheese, and avocado ranch sauce. The Naked Chicken Chalupa will cost $2.99.
Taco Bell began testing variations on the fried chicken chalupa in 2015 with tests in Bakersfield, California and Kansas City, Missouri.
"We were getting feedback like, 'It's so healthy. It's so fresh,'" Kat Garcia, Taco Bell's senior manager of marketing, told BuzzFeed News last May. "That really surprised us because it's fried chicken."
According to early reviews, the chalupa is tasty as well.
"It was a little salty initially since you bite into the fried chicken first but balances out once you hit the filling," Brand Eating wrote in August. "The chicken shell had a substantial crunch as well as a solid kick of spicy heat; much more so than any other current Taco Bell meat option."
The fast-food and fast-casual industry has a fixation with fried chicken. In 2010, KFC debuted the infamous Double Down, a sandwich that replaced a bun with two cutlets of fried chicken.
Shake Shack's Chick'n Shack has quickly become one of the chain's top five best-selling items since its national launch last January, executives said in a presentation at the annual ICR Conference on Tuesday. In 2015, Burger King launched its Chicken Fries and McDonald's reintroduced Chicken Selects.
The Naked Chicken Chalupa could be just the beginning of Taco Bell's entry into the fried chicken market. The chain is currently testing its take on chicken nuggets, called "Crispy Chicken Chips," in Irvine, California.
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