Taco Bell (YUM) has seen sales explode in the last couple of years, largely on the strength of zany junk food like the Doritos Locos Tacos. But now it's making a pitch to customers who aren't necessarily attracted by bizarre fast-food mashups.
The "Mexican-inspired" fast-food joint announced this week that it was going to start bringing healthier offerings to its menu. According to the AP, it's aiming to make at least 20% of its menu items meet government guidelines for fat and calorie content by 2020. That means, for instance, that a single meal would only have 666 calories, based on the 2,000-calorie daily diet recommended by the USDA. CEO Greg Creed said that some of the healthier products may start launching as early as next year.
That's not the only change coming to Taco Bell's menu. Earlier this month, Creed told a restaurant industry conference that the chain was aiming to double sales over the next decade, in part by adding breakfast to the menu.
The breakfast menu (dubbed "FirstMeal," of course) has already rolled out in more than 800 Taco Bells on the West Coast, including locations in California, Arizona and Colorado. As you might expect, you aren't getting pancakes -- Taco Bell looks to be putting its own twist on the breakfast burrito with its first offering, the A.M. Crunchwrap. It features egg, cheese, a hashbrown and your choice of bacon or sausage, all stuffed inside a tortilla. And since this is Taco Bell, you'll get it with a glass of Mtn Dew A.M., which is a mix of a Mountain Dew and orange juice.
"Everyone's saying we're crazy because McDonald's owns this," Creed told the conference. "That has to stop."
And breakfast isn't the only time of day that Taco Bell wants to conquer. The chain also recently started offering an afternoon menu called "Happier Hour," which includes the snack-sized loaded grillers and a variety of frozen drinks. It will aim to increase traffic during the 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. time block, which tends to be a dead zone for restaurants.
We're not sure we can get on board with the idea of eating Taco Bell for breakfast, but then, we're sure people said the same of McDonald's. Maybe we just need to think outside the bagel.
Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.