Category Archives: taco bell

Where is Canada’s national taco strategy?


Like many technological products and services, the Doritos taco isn’t available in Canada.

The Daily Beast had an entertaining article last week, provocatively titled “Can this taco save America?” The taco in question, of course, is Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos taco, which features a shell made from Doritos chips. More correctly, there are now two of these tacos - the original nacho cheese one and the recently launched Cool Ranch flavour, which I sampled (and reviewed) on launch day.

Taco Bell says it added 15,000 new jobs in 2012 to handle demand for the amazingly popular taco. The chain sold more than 375 million of the tacos last year or, as the article puts it, nearly one million a day:

That’s a lot of jobs for one little taco. And it’s a sign, however troubling to nutritionists, that U.S. companies can still prosper by pitching new, innovative products to the perpetually pinched American consumer. While its competitors in the fast-food industry have been pushing for growth in developing markets, Taco Bell has been focusing on its own backyard.

I also find this really interesting because we’re now able to see how much a low-end American job is worth… in tacos. A quick, back-of-the-envelope calculation means such a job amounts to 25,000 tacos. That’s not that many. On my trip down to Buffalo, my friend and I consumed six Doritos tacos between the two of us, or roughly 1/4000th of a new job. You’re welcome America.

Up here in Canada, many of us have been complaining about the government’s failure to produce a digital strategy, or a plan to get the country moving in technological matters. Given what’s happening down south, how about a national taco strategy?

Taco Bell has so far not deemed Canada worthy of receiving the Doritos Locos tacos. The government needs to get involved here - look at the jobs we’re missing out on!


Posted by on March 19, 2013 in government, taco bell


Cool Ranch Doritos tacos: a review

For taco fans (and Doritos fans), March 7 was a long time coming. At long last, Taco Bell finally debuted its new Cool Ranch Doritos Taco Loco at U.S. restaurants, expanding on the big popularity of last year’s Nacho Cheese flavour Doritos tacos.

My friend and I drove down to Buffalo to sample this U.S.-only delicacy. Here’s my video review:

The most mystifying thing about either of the Doritos tacos is that they’re not yet available outside the United States. You’d think that with their big popularity south of the border, parent Yum Brands would be in a hurry to export them and capitalize.

I put in several requests for comment with a Yum representative in Canada, but got no response.

I asked Darren Tristano, executive vice-president of food industry consulting firm Technomic, for his thoughts. Here’s what he said:

It is very difficult for larger chains to roll out programs with new products. Generally they start with a test group, measure success within different demographics and determine whether to proceed with a larger more regional or national roll-out. Once advertising begins, consumers nationwide expect to be able to get the products locally so chains have to be careful. After a national roll-out, they measure results and determine whether to roll it out more globally and brands need to confirm that the supply chain supports the roll-out which can take time to set it up with production and distribution.

Those chains that take care to roll out products with careful attention to detail have the greatest chances of success. In the meantime, social media can create buzz around the idea of the introduction.

Take a look at the Pizza Hut perfume that was awarded to ‘fans’ last year in Canada. This year, it was rolled out to 6 countries and created a huge social media success.


Posted by on March 8, 2013 in taco bell


Fast food joints looking to escape the ghetto

QSR magazine, the Time or Newsweek of the fast-food industry, recently released its top 100 news stories of the year. Most were ho-hum, but one that struck me was #4: “Wendy’s Tests New Prototype.” As the entry goes:

After hearing feedback from customers that its brand was tired and dated, Wendy’s unveiled a new store prototype in Columbus, Ohio, that allows diners to see the fresh preparation of food and offers more comfortable dining areas for customers to lounge in. The new store is one of four the company is launching. The new prototype in Columbus includes a WiFi lounge area, a new premium coffee program, updated interiors, and an exterior design inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright.

No kidding. Given that I sometimes write about fast food, I do on occasion pop into such establishments - for research, of course - and I haven’t been able to help but notice that many of them are, simply put, ghetto dumps. With looks that haven’t changed in 20 to 30 years and the onset of grimy decay, a lot of fast-food joints look like what many people say they are: decidedly low class.

The smarter chains know this and are taking action. McDonalds, the industry king, recently announced it was spending $1 billion on renovations in Canada - and it shows. Say what you will about the food, but most recently renovated McDonalds restaurants feel very different than their competitors. You don’t feel dirty just by sitting in one.

The other night, I was at a Christmas party for media hosted by new wireless operator Mobilicity. The man behind the cellphone company is John Bitove, who also runs a number of other businesses including a whack of KFC and Taco Bell franchises. I remembered reading something a while back about how his company Priszm was looking to unload the franchises because the parent company, Yum Brands, wanted expensive renovations. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on December 15, 2011 in food, kfc, mcdonald's, new york fries, taco bell, tim hortons


The beef over Taco Bell’s beef

It seems like barely a week goes by without some sort of food controversy making the rounds on the internet. This time around, it’s Taco Bell’s turn with the company taking some lumps over whether the beef in its tacos is actually beef. An Alabama law firm is suing the company’s parent, Yum Brands, alleging that it is selling a product that contains only 35% beef. Taco Bell is, of course, fighting back and says its beef is 88% beef. Here’s a news report:

Wall Street Journal blogger Carl Bialik has weighed in, saying that proving the claims one way or the other is tough when it comes to fast food:

“One problem is that identical ingredient lists can produce different end products, depending on how they are cooked. Cooking meat uncovered, for instance, allows water in the meat to evaporate, while adding a lid but no other ingredients would alter the meat concentration, yielding different test results.”

Bialik goes on to quote a food scientist saying, “This is precisely why they haven’t been able to reverse-engineer Coca-Cola.”

There are actually a few problems with that. Firstly, food scientists can actually reverse engineer any food using mass spectrometers (it’s all in Sex, Bombs and Burgers, folks!), and that includes the formula for Coca-Cola. There have been plenty of educated reconstructions of that particular mystery. Suggesting otherwise is actually baffling - food scientists can recombine the DNA of different organisms to create new ones, so figuring out if something is beef or not is child’s play.

But the other point, which to me seems silly, is the observation that you can use the exact same ingredients that, say, McDonald’s lists for its Big Mac, and still not come up with a Big Mac. Well, duh. That’s sort of like saying you can give me the exact same kind of camera that Ansel Adams used, yet my pictures just don’t turn out as well. There is something to be said for technique, even when it comes to fast food, believe it or not.

Is Taco Bell’s beef actually beef? I have no idea, but I am inclined to give the company the benefit of the doubt. Why would a food chain knowingly sell beef that isn’t really beef if someone could easily figure out that it’s not? Wouldn’t that be a bit of a disaster for the company, especially given that just about every form of fast food - such as chicken nuggets - has already been through this?

The fact is, many people want to believe the worst about fast-food chains such as Taco Bell.

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Posted by on February 16, 2011 in food, mcdonald's, taco bell


Drive-thru ditties

Alas, today is the last official day of summer, which is about as depressing a thought as I can imagine. I don’t know about you, but it’s going to pretty damn hard to get motivated to do anything today.

With that in mind, here’s some stuff to goof off with. As I was looking around yesterday for something silly to blog about, I came across an interesting trend on YouTube: singing drive-thrus.

As if to prove that YouTube is a repository for people who have way too much time on their hands, there are tons of videos on there of people singing - or rapping - their orders to unsuspecting fast-food employees. Here’s the one that really started it all about three years ago:

There’s tons of these amateur attempts on YouTube, mostly lame, such as this one at Wendy’s, this one at Starbuck’s (they have drive-thrus?!?), and even this folk song at Taco Bell.

Perhaps the funniest video, however, is this one about the teens getting arrested last year for trying it.

Enjoy the last official weekend of summer!


Posted by on September 3, 2010 in mcdonald's, taco bell


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