Taco Bell unveiled Friday a test of its latest co-branded partnership: Cap’n Crunch Delights.
The new breakfast item went into test Thursday at units in Bakersfield, Calif., and aims to bring back sugary childhood memories of Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries cereal.
“It’s a nostalgic throwback brand from when you were a kid,” said Amanda Clark, Taco Bell’s senior director of marketing. “We feel like it will appeal to what we call ‘kid-ults,’ or the kid-adults out there.”
The item is Taco Bell’s first variation on Cinnabon Delights, a cream-filled doughnut hole reminiscent of Cinnabon’s cinnamon rolls, which debuted when the Irvine, Calif.-based chain rolled out breakfast nationwide last year.
The new Cap’n Crunch Delights are a doughnut hole version of a bowl of Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries cereal — with milk.
The pastry evokes a giant Crunch Berry, with the familiar flaming pink color not found in nature. The cream filling represents sweet cereal milk, and the pastry is rolled in a coating of crushed Cap’n Crunch cereal.
The item is priced at two for $1, or four for $1.69, in test. Like Cinnabon Delights, Cap’n Crunch Delights will be available all day.
If the item performs well in test, it could be introduced nationwide.
Cap’n Crunch Delights also represent the latest in a series of co-branded products that has dominated Taco Bell menu innovation in recent years, following its wildly successful launch of Doritos Locos Tacos in 2012.
Last week, the chain rolled out its first co-branded partnership with Snapple.
The new Snapple Lemonade Freeze replaces the Dr Pepper Vanilla Float Freeze on Taco Bell’s beverage lineup. Since Dr Pepper owns Snapple, it marks a continuation of the brand partnership.
Taco Bell officials said the bright yellow Snapple Lemonade Freeze mixes well with pink Starburst Strawberry Freeze, into which a shot of neon green Mountain Dew Baja Blast results in a colorful concoction that makes for great Instagram fodder.
The chain also rolled out a Sriracha Quesarito last week, which is not co-branded, since Taco Bell developed a proprietary Sriracha sauce for the item.
However, the Quesarito, a burrito wrapped in a cheese-filled quesadilla, is an example of how the chain is tapping flavors that Millennials are eating at home and for which they have a particular passion, like the Thai hot sauce.
“It’s the ultimate cult collision,” Clark said, or a union of fervent Taco Bell fans with the nation’s growing number of “Sriracha Heads.”
That’s the theme of new television ads scheduled to debut on Sunday for Sriracha Quesaritos, which are priced at a recommended $2.49 for the beef option.
Steve Gomez, Taco Bell manager of product development, said the chain initially looked at co-branding with Southern California-based Sriracha maker Huy Fong Foods, whose sauce is commonly known as “Rooster Sauce” because of the rooster on its label.
But that sauce didn’t work as well with Taco Bell’s protein flavors, Gomez said. Instead, the chain developed its own Sriracha sauce using the same basic recipe with a little buttermilk to make it creamy.
Taco Bell’s Sriracha sauce can be added to any menu item on request, a feature that it promotes on its mobile app.
It will be the spiciest sauce on the chain’s menu, which responds to consumer demand for bolder flavors, Clark said.
Sriracha is increasingly appearing on restaurant chain menus. Jack in the Box recently debuted a new Sriracha Burger, Applebee’s added Sriracha Shrimp to its new Shareables, Pub Plates & Bar Snacks menu, and Corner Bakery Cafe introduced a limited-time Sriracha Black Bean Soup.
More menu innovation is on deck for Taco Bell this year, and will likely follow the chain’s success with mashups like the Quesarito.
“The Quesarito is a great platform,” Gomez said. “Mashups are really popular and trendy, and it’s a combination of things people really love.”
Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected].
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