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Why Taco Bell is using someone else's sauce

The quick-service company is using Truff for its latest LTO


Welcome to First Bite, a Nation’s Restaurant News podcast, your daily source of news from NRN hosted by Holly Petre.

Today, we’re talking about Taco Bell's latest LTO.

Taco Bell is bringing back its wildly successful Nacho Fries and adding some extra heat this time around.

The item returns to menus Oct. 13 for a limited time and will feature a new option with Truff’s Hotter Hot Sauce. The two Southern California brands tested the product last year and are now bringing it systemwide while supplies last.

Truff Hot Sauce was launched in 2017 and quickly garnered a dedicated social media following and a vote of approval from Oprah, among other celebrities. The company labels its products as “luxury condiments,” describing its hot sauce “as if truffle and sriracha had a baby.” According to the company, the Truff Hotter Hot sauce is about two to three times the heat level of its original formula, or about 5,000 to 7,000 on the Scoville Scale (for context, Tabasco Sauce measures about 2,500 SHUs).

The partnership with Truff is the first time Taco Bell has collaborated with another brand on a new sauce, which is notable as the brand’s sauces are a signature differentiator. Taco Bell has even gone so far as to launch a sauce packet merchandise collection, with everything from socks and bow ties to bathrobes and blankets.

The partnership marks the latest iteration for Taco Bell’s Nacho Fries, which were initially introduced in 2018 and quickly became the chain’s most successful new product launch ever. The fries are part of one in four orders at the chain and, most recently, helped break weekly sales records twice during Q2. The success has inspired Taco Bell to introduce limited-time iterations, like the Rattlesnake Fries and Reaper Ranch Fries, to generate occasional traffic and sales upticks. The Truff’s collaboration should continue the product’s success, as consumer demand for hot sauce grows at a compound annual rate of over 7%

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