After disappearing from Taco Bell’s menu more than a year ago, the Naked Chicken Chalupa, along with a spicy version of the mashup menu item, will return to the quick-service chain’s restaurants this week.
The Naked Chicken Chalupa debuted as a nationwide limited-time offer in January 2017 and left the menu in late February. The OG “Naked” taco will make a comeback on May 10, along with the Wilder Naked Chicken Chalupa. The deconstructed taco features fried chicken shaped into the form of a taco shell. The protein-based shell is filled with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cheddar cheese and creamy avocado ranch sauce.
The “Wilder” version swaps out creamy avocado ranch sauce for a “new bold and smoky Wild sauce,” Taco Bell said.
The Naked tacos join a fray of viral mashup foods popularized over the years by Irvine, Calif.-based Taco Bell.
Last April, the chain created another innovative protein shell when it added the Naked Breakfast Taco to the morning menu. The shell, made from a fried egg, is stuffed with diced potatoes, sausage crumbles or bacon, nacho cheese and shredded cheddar.
A month later, in May 2017, Taco Bell temporarily sold Naked Chicken Chips (fried chicken in the shape of chips), and in October 2017, the Crispy Chicken Quesadilla launched. The latter was a nationwide limited-time offer of a quesadilla stuffed with Naked Chicken Chips. Naked Chicken Chips were also available as an à la carte item.
The Naked tacos are priced at $2.99 each, a significant boost compared with the chain’s most recent limited-time offers on its dollar menu. Since the new year, Taco Bell has been pushing a string of rotating LTOs on its Dollar Cravings menu, including the record-breaking Nacho Fries.
However, the dollar foods have put pressure on margins.
In the first quarter, Taco Bell’s parent company, Louisville, Ky.-based Yum! Brands Inc., reported a slip in the chain’s same-store sales. Taco Bell is typically the best-performing brand for Yum, whose portfolio also includes KFC and Pizza Hut. During the quarter ended March 31, same-store sales at Taco Bell grew 1 percent, compared with a rise of 8 percent the previous year.
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