Taco Bell menu tries a bold take on a Chick-fil-A classic

At one point, Taco Bell operated within the limits of a Mexican restaurant. 

The rules weren't hard and fast, but in the 1980s. '90s and even the '00s the chain generally sold only items that would not feel unfamiliar on the menu at a nonchain Mexican eatery.

In recent years, however, the Yum Brands (YUM) - Get Free Report chain has thrown out all the rules. Most of its menu items have touches that evoke classic Mexican cooking, but the company has been fully willing to open up its options as long as it can create items that appeal to its customers.

Related: Burger King menu adds sandwiches McDonald's, Wendy's can't make

That strategy has been wildly successful. For example, it led to Taco Bell's Nacho Fries, a unique take on french fries that answered the classic side dish available at McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King. 

It's a way of thinking that freed the chain's chefs to use fried chicken — an item not generally sold in Mexican restaurants — in a variety of ways.

You can argue that Taco Bell has had mixed success with its efforts to home in on the fried-chicken craze, but it has gotten attention. One of those efforts, the Naked Chicken Chalupa, used fried chicken as the shell for the sandwich. That's not totally novel, as another Yum brand, KFC, did the same thing with the Double Down, but it still got a lot of press.       

Taco Bell has been even more open to using traditional fast-food chain recipes (albeit with some unique touches) on its breakfast menu. That clearly opened up its chefs to their latest addition to the chain's morning menu.

Taco Bell has used comedian Pete Davidson in ads promoting its breakfast offerings.

Image source&colon Taco Bell

Taco Bell tries a take on a hash brown bowl

Earlier this year, Taco Bell hired comedian Pete Davidson to essentially make fun of its breakfast menu.

"I like to think I might be the muse behind Live Más, which is probably why they brought me on to apologize for their maybe-too-extreme innovations in the mornings," said Davidson, who was given the honorary title of Taco Bell Brand Apologist. 

"Taco Bell got too caught up with today's hustle and forgot people like to ease into their morning with tasty, simple food. Here to stay are delicious burritos and Crunch-things or Crunchwraps or whatever they're called."

Taco Bell also used the comedian and actor to introduce a line of breakfast tacos nationwide. It's following those efforts by testing its own version of Chick-fil-A's popular Hash Brown Scramble Bowl.

Taco Bell adds its own touches

Chick-fil-A describes its offering on its website this way: "A hearty morning meal of sliced Chick-fil-A Nuggets, crispy Hash Browns, scrambled eggs, and a blend of Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheeses. Made fresh each morning. Served in a convenient bowl." 

The chain's customers can also customize their protein with traditional breakfast favorites bacon and sausage, offered alongside a variety of both fried and grilled chicken options.

Taco Bell's take on the classic is similar but with a small twist.

The chain's Breakfast Tots "features tots that are seasoned with Mexican spices and then mixed with scrambled eggs and your choice of sausage or bacon before being topped with a melted 3-cheese blend," the popular Snackolator Instagram page reported.

Taco Bell's Breakfast Tots are currently being tested in limited markets. They cost $3.49 or $4.49 depending upon whether you choose to add meat. 

Selling more breakfast items has been a focus for Taco Bell. Yum Brands Chief Executive David Gibbs addressed this during his chain's third-quarter-earnings call.   

"The momentum we're getting in breakfast, what we can do with loyalty. The business is obviously somewhat on a roll if you look at the results from the last quarter, and I mentioned those trends are continuing," he said.

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