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Fast Food Plant-Based Sustainability

Taco Bell Tests New ‘Cravetarian’ Plant-Based Protein Option

While Taco Bell has some upcoming plans with Beyond Meat, that hasn’t stopped them from trying to make their own plant-based proteins.

Through April 29th, the chain is testing a “Cravetarian” ground beef substitute that’s made from a blend of pea and chickpea protein. It’s served up just like a classic Taco Supreme, with sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese.

According to a release from Taco Bell, this taco contains 10 less calories than a standard Taco Supreme (180 vs 190), but no other nutritional or sustainability benefits are noted. Since this is just a test, were this to go nationwide, we would be likely to get more specific info.

Taco Bell has dabbled in proprietary plant-based substitutes in the past, including an “Oatrageous Taco” in parts of Europe. However, this represents part of a broader initiative where the chain is going all in on having more sustainable options.

Foodbeast was able to try the Cravetarian Taco ahead of its test launch, and found it difficult to differentiate from a standard Supreme Taco. Flavor and texture wise, things are there, and the spices do a decent job of masking any potential taste that the pea or chickpea might provide. Overall, it’s a solid option for vegetarians and non-vegetarians that’s meant as more of an environmental statement than a health food.

Taco Bell’s Cravetarian Taco will be available through April 29th at a single location (14042 Red Hill Avenue, Tustin, California) in Orange County. The individual taco costs $2.19, but you can also swap it into other items for no extra cost.

Categories
Fast Food Sustainability

Taco Bell Is Launching Program To Recycle Their Sauce Packets This Year

Photo courtesy of Taco Bell

In one of its biggest efforts to date to be more climate-friendly, Taco Bell has found a way to make all of its sauce packets recyclable. This could potentially take billions of pieces of plastic out of landfills annually.

For context, Taco Bell claims that 8.2 billion sauce packets are used in the United States each year. All of these pieces of plastic are currently not recyclable, and the taco titan doesn’t plan on switching materials.

However, a new partnership with recycling company TerraCycle will help convert the sauce packets. TerraCycle, which runs the Loop recycling service many global brands subscribe to, specializes in taking materials that normally aren’t recyclable and converting them into hard plastic.

Taco Bell and TerraCycle will launch the pilot program for their sauce packets later this year, and consumers will be able to participate in a yet-to-be announced method that will include free shipping. The hope is that this will help convert all of the chain’s sauce packet plastic waste by 2025, a long-term goal for Taco Bell.

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Fast Food What's New

Taco Bell Is Testing A TON Of New Items To Add To Their Menu

Photo courtesy of Taco Bell

As 2020 drew to a close, Taco Bell deleted over a dozen items from its menu, including fan favorites like potatoes and the iconic Mexican Pizza.

While potatoes are back on the menu now, the rest of the lineup slots look like they might be filled by some test items Taco Bell has run. There’s a lot being trialed right now, including the addition the viral Chicken Sandwich Taco that’s sparked some roasting from fellow fast food chains.

In total, Taco Bell has over a half dozen items testing right now. One set of items, pictured above, is the new “Primo Burritos,” currently testing in Kansas City. There’s no clear distinction as to what makes these “Primo,” although it appears the model for these is “look weighty but be on a budget.”

The two versions, Loaded Taco and Chicken Enchilada, cost no more than $1.50 each (the Loaded Taco one being just $1), and are packed with sour cream, rice, cheddar cheese, and ingredients that give each burrito their distinct flavor.

Photo courtesy of Taco Bell

Stackers are also making a reappearance, this time in Grilled Cheese form. Taco Bell didn’t provide any details on this item other than the name, but it looks like the tri-folded quesadilla may come with a cheesy crust, as the Grilled Cheese Burrito of old did. This item is currently being tested in Houston, Texas.

Photo courtesy of Taco Bell

Over in Columbus, Ohio, Taco Bell is looking at tacos that are all about the heat. This set of $1 Spicy Tacos feature the chain’s proprietary beef, lettuce, cheese, and one of three different spicy sauces. Customers can opt for Mild Jalapeño, Medium Chipotle, or a “White Hot” Ranch made with ghost chili peppers.

Photo courtesy of Taco Bell

Portland Taco Bell fans can try out a new trio of bowls currently being tested in the area. Called the “Stacked Bowls,” each comes with a double portion of meat. From there, ingredients may vary, with seasoned rice serving as a base, but other ingredients like refried or black beans, a variety of sauces, or even a new purple cabbage topping all available.

The Stacked Taco Bowl contains beef, rice, refried beans, a blend of purple cabbage and lettuce, crunchy red strips, a three-cheese blend, sour cream, tomatoes, and guac. There’s also the Avocado Ranch Chicken Bowl (chicken, seasoned rice, black beans, a blend of purple cabbage and lettuce, a three-cheese blend, and avocado ranch sauce) and a Stacked Steak Melt Bowl, which goes double on both steak and cheese with rice, crunchy red strips, black beans, tomatoes, and chipotle sauce.

The bowls are the most expensive new item being tested, costing $4.49-$4.99 each.

Photo courtesy of Taco Bell

Outside of the plethora of new test items, Taco Bell also dropped a new Strawberry Lemonade Freeze nationwide. The new slushy beverage is made with what the chain describes as “wild strawberries” and lemonade, and is available for a limited time.

Taco Bell is clearly looking to stack their menu with a variety of new options, but we’ll have to see which of these make it out of the test locations and into nationwide launches.

Categories
Fast Food

Taco Bell Tests Deep-Fried Cheese Curds In Southern California

Photo courtesy of Taco Bell

There’s something magical about deep-fried cheese curds that can’t be explained. Either it’s crisp exterior revealing a gooey molten cheese center, the richer flavor than that of mozzarella sticks, or that you don’t have to commit to the entirely of a mozzarella stick as you do with cheese curds.

If only we’d see it more as a fast food option.

It seems Taco Bell is already on it, testing what they call Cripsy Cheese Dippers at a select location in Southern California.

The new item features nine pieces of cheddar cheese curds that are served with a creamy chipotle sauce. Taco Bell has also added Crispy Cheese Nacho Fries, including the chain’s famous Nacho Fries topped with the fried cheese curd dippers, a nacho cheese sauce, creamy chipotle sauce, sour cream, and diced tomatoes.

While still in testing stages, Taco Bell enthusiasts can try them at the Taco Bell located at 131 E. Orangethorpe Ave., Fullerton, CA.

Categories
Fast Food

Other Fast Food Brands Are Roasting Taco Bell’s New Chicken Sandwich Taco

Taco Bell made a splash with their latest item in the Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco this week, which was met with excitement for some and confusion from others — color me the latter as the “bun” or whatever the chicken held looked more like a bao. Turns out the news of The Bell throwing their hat in the chicken sandwich wars didn’t go unnoticed by some of the other big players in the scene, namely Zaxby’s and Popeyes Chicken.

The two popular fried chicken franchises wasted no time in taking their shots at Taco Bell’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco, with Zaxby’s firing off the following tweet:

Popeyes, noted for being one of the best fast food fried chicken chains in the country, let it be known that Superman’s cape shall not be tugged at:

@popeyeschicken

#LoveThoseTacosFromPopeyes #FYP #ForYou #DIYrecipes #DIYtacos #PopeyesChicken #popeyeschickensandwich

♬ original sound – Popeyes Chicken

Though Taco Bell usually nails it in terms of menu innovations, the curious application of a taco and sandwich together seemed like a misfire that was easy prey to the bigger birds on the block.

Categories
Fast Food

Taco Bell Launches $5 Build-It-Yourself Cravings Box

Photo courtesy of Taco Bell

I can’t think of anyone who goes to Taco Bell to order something and leaves with a single item. The beauty of the fast-food chain putting together a full-on meal from select items on the menu. 

With that thought in mind, imagine our delight to discover that Taco Bell is now offering a build-it-yourself Cravings Box for $5. 

The options for the $5 Cravings Box include about 18 different combinations, including divided into groups.

Photo courtesy of Taco Bell

For your main, you can pick from Taco Bell’s specialties that include the Chalupa Supreme, Cheesy Gordita Crunch, or Crunchwrap. Starters include a Crunchy Taco, Soft Taco, Beefy 5-Layer Burrito, or a Bean and Cheese Burrito. For sides, you can choose between chips with nacho cheese or Taco Bell’s Cinnamon Twists. Finally, for drinks, you can have your choice of a medium fountain drink. 

The $5 Custom Cravings Box is only exclusive to the Taco Bell App and is available to Taco Bell Rewards Beta members beginning Feb. 2, with a wider release scheduled for Feb. 11 to all Taco Bell digital members. 

As I sit here imagining all the possibilities in my head, there’s a good chance I’ll come out of the next trip to Taco Bell with more than a few different options. 

Categories
Fast Food Plant-Based

Taco Bell Gives In: Potatoes And Beyond Meat Are On The Way

Photo courtesy of Taco Bell

For those who have been clamoring for Taco Bell to bring back potatoes, your wish has been granted.

After getting taken off of the menu as a way to streamline operations during the pandemic, the taco titan has confirmed that their beloved spuds will be returning to menus starting March 11th. You’ll be able to enjoy them in all the same ways as before.

Photo courtesy of Taco Bell

Buried within the announcement of potatoes returning was even bigger news, however. After years of resisting the urge to pick a plant-based meat purveyor like Impossible Foods or Beyond Meat, Taco Bell has finally given in and chosen the latter.

For a long time, the chain has hung their hat on the beans, potatoes, and other inherently vegetarian options they had on the menu without the need to add a plant-based meat. They did launch an oat-based protein substitute, but that never made its way to US markets.

This year, though, Taco Bell will test a product nationwide that includes a collaboration with Beyond Meat. Like many other chains (ie. Del Taco or KFC), they’ll be making a custom protein that fits within the chain’s flavor spectrum, although whether that will be a beef substitute or not remains to be seen.

Taco Bell did mention back in 2019 that they were looking into plant-based alternatives. With Beyond Meat on board, it will be interesting to see if they include any vegan cheese, egg, or other animal product alternatives as time goes on.

Categories
Fast Food

Taco Bell Unveils Vegetarian Black Bean Toasted Cheddar Chalupa

Photo courtesy of Taco Bell

Last year, Taco Bell debuted their Toasted Cheddar Chalupa. The menu item featured all the staples of a classic chalupa: lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, sour cream, and customers’ choice of proteins along with a chalupa taco shell that was toasted with aged cheddar. 

The golden bells of comfort food and convenience have announced that the popular menu item will return to menus this fall and with it a new variation. 

Joining the return of the Toasted Cheddar Chalupa will be a vegetarian alternative to the popular menu item: The Black Bean Toasted Cheddar Chalupa

Certified vegetarian by the American Vegetarian Association, the chalupa features Taco Bell’s signature black beans in place of meat. The new item will join the Veggie Cravings menu, which boasts 13 existing vegetarian menu items.

Man, they already had me at anything toasted with cheddar. 

You can find the Toasted Cheddar Chalupas now at participating Taco Bell locations nationwide.