What happens when you take one of the most popular snack foods in the world and wrap your already popular and successful product in it… after years of speculation and outright begging from your customers? You can expect tens of millions to make a run for the border.
That’s what Taco Bell is predicting when they launch their much-anticipated Doritos Locos Tacos nationwide at 12:01am on March 8th, and fans finally get to taste the food porn mashup of their favorite fast food taco, wrapped in a Nacho Cheese flavored Doritos shell. (My personal taste test review is below.)
Not just a typical Taco Bell shell dusted with the familiar orange Doritos seasoning (that strategy was actually tested at the beginning and failed miserably), this is a special, custom produced shell that is 100% Doritos through and through, a process that was incredibly difficult to pull off. Steve Gomez, food scientist for Taco Bell, told me, “Taking something that was always made to be a flat triangle, and turning it into a curved shell that can withstand cracking and breaking was very challenging.”
It was challenging enough that Taco Bell ended up building special factories just to create these unique shells. Millions of these unique shells. Because Taco Bell CEO Greg Creed tells me, if test market results are any indication, where the new product “blew the doors off” and 1 out of every 3 purchases was a Doritos Locos Taco, they expect to sell over 60 million—per week—at the outset.
So those special factories have already pumped out over 85 million of the nacho cheese flavored shells in anticipation of the launch. And they are ramping up to meet what they expect to be a huge ongoing demand, pushing sales of the new taco into the billions.
With all this hype over the product development and launch, the really important question is: How does it taste? Taco Bell flew me out to their national headquarters in Irvine, CA this week to be among the first to try the Doritos Locos Tacos. And here’s what I thought: Surprisingly delicious.
I’ve always been a fan of Doritos, but not an eat-a-whole-bag-in-one-sitting guy. So my expectation was that the flavoring would be too overpowering, too much of a good thing. I was wrong. It was one of those taste experiences where you wonder why this wasn’t done on day one, at the invention of the taco. The nacho cheese adds a kick that creates a whole new flavor dimension. One that sprinkling on seasoning, or squeezing a packet of sauce, can’t deliver. Even though I initially thought it would be too overpowering flavor-wise, I ended up eating three. Looking for a way to smuggle a few more into my luggage to hold me over until March 8th.
And judging from the reactions of the roomful of other writers invited to the tasting, the “billions sold” expectation will probably be dead on.
True Doritos fans will also be happy to hear two things: 1. The shell leaves a good amount of familiar orange dust on your fingers. (Apparently a must-have for early taste testers.) And, 2. A Cool Ranch flavored shell is already in the works, has been tested, and will be launching soon. Along with other flavors to follow. Can a Doritos Nachos Bellgrande be far behind? Probably not.