Giving plant-based a whole new form, Taco Bell reinvents its own invention to disrupt both the vegetarian space and “chicken” sandwich wars
Irvine, Calif. (June 23, 2021) - The introduction of the Naked Chicken Chalupa at Taco Bell changed the fried chicken game forever. Now, Taco Bell is looking to reinvent its own game-changing invention like no adversary in the chicken wars could, by testing a craveable plant-based shell alternative. Meet the Naked Chalupa with a Crispy Plant-Based Shell, a new menu innovation that gives vegetarian and veggie-curious fans everywhere reasons to shell-ebrate.
With a name as bountiful as its offerings, this latest shell innovation challenges the status quo of what vegetarian mashups look and taste like. Thanks to the masterminds of the Taco Bell Test Kitchen, the newest specialty is made from a pea protein-based proprietary blend that's breaded*, shaped into the unique Chalupa form and then crisped to order. The shell is certified vegan by the American Vegetarian Association** and proves Taco Bell's long-standing commitment to ensuring more people— no matter their lifestyle — get to enjoy bold flavors and try the latest food obsessions.
Just like the traditional Naked Chicken Chalupa, which was released onto menus earlier this month, the limited-time vegetarian counterpart takes crispy chicken creativity to the next level. It features the new shell that is then filled with lettuce, cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes and flavorful avocado ranch sauce for a mouthful of delicious goodness. As with many Taco Bell favorites, fans can customize their order to remove ingredients containing dairy or egg to make an item vegan and that rings true for the Naked Chalupa with a Crispy Plant-Based Shell.
"We've long been a food disruptor, and this time is no different," said Liz Matthews, Taco Bell's Global Chief Food Innovation Officer. "We've seen our industry follow patterns of sameness, but we understand that consumers are looking for creativity and craveability in this space. So whether someone is craving plant-based protein or crispy chicken or gooey cheesiness, we have something that's not only flavorful, but also uniquely Taco Bell."
The Naked Chalupa with a Crispy Plant-Based Shell is currently testing at only one Taco Bell location (2222 Barranca Pkwy, Irvine, California) until June 27, 2021, while supplies last. It will be priced at $3.49 plus tax, giving fans a new way to indulge at a great value.
Taco Bell's one-restaurant tests are a quick and agile way for the brand to serve up unique twists on traditional foods and fan-favorite Taco Bell menu items that push the boundaries of innovation. The Naked Chalupa with a Crispy Plant-Based Shell joins previous one-restaurant tests, including Crispy Chicken Wings in July 2020, Crispy Cheese Dippers and Crispy Cheese Nacho Fries in March 2021 and, most recently, the Cravetarian Taco in April 2021. By testing and offering a wide breadth of craveable alternatives to meat options, Taco Bell doubles down on its pledge to bring more innovation to the vegetarian space.
The brand remains excited about teaming up with Beyond Meat to create a new innovative plant-based protein, something not quite yet seen in the industry, to appeal to an even broader audience of consumers. Details on specific timing and market(s) to come.
*This product contains wheat.
**American Vegetarian Association certified Vegetarian food items are lacto-ovo, allowing consumption of dairy and eggs but not animal byproducts. We may use the same frying oil to prepare menu items that could contain meat. Vegetarian and meat ingredients are handled in common, and cross contact may occur, which may not be acceptable to certain types of vegetarian diets. Neither Taco Bell®, our employees, nor our franchisees nor the AVA assume any responsibility for such cross contact.
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