The majority of fast-food chains added some holiday menu items a few weeks ago.
McDonald’s (MCD) – Get Free Report added some seasonal flavors to its beverage menu, Wendy’s (WEN) – Get Free Report rolled the Peppermint Frosty, and Starbucks (SBUX) – Get Free Report brought back its usual array of holiday drinks before the calendar even turned to December.
Usually, aside from putting some peppermint on the beverage menu, fast-food chains usually shy away from making menu changes during the holiday season. That’s partly because the staff is already stressed out by large crowds and some workers may be season part-timers who don’t know the regular menu, let alone have time to master a new addition.
It’s also a very expensive time of year to advertise making launching a new product a challenge. Yum Brands’ (YUM) – Get Free Report Taco Bell, however, never hesitates to make a major menu addition. The chain recently shared plans to keep its popular Nacho Fries on the menu and has been testing two new versions of its Mexican Pizza.
Those moves were a little surprising given the time of year, but the chain saved its biggest move for late December. It plans to roll out the new Salsa Verde Grilled Chicken Burrito nationwide on Dec. 22.
Taco Bell Menu Goes Green
The beauty of Taco Bell’s menu is that the chain can vary up its offerings by changing or adding a single ingredient. In this case, it’s adding salsa verde.
“The Salsa Verde Grilled Chicken Burrito features a warm flour tortilla filled with grilled marinated white-meat chicken, seasoned rice, reduced-fat sour cream, a blend of cheddar, mozzarella, and pepper jack cheeses, and green chile sauce. At launch, the Salsa Verde Grilled Chicken Burrito will be available a la carte for a suggested price of $2 as part of the brand’s Cravings Value Menu,” Chewboom.com reported.
Salsa verde, quite literally “green salsa,” does not currently appear on the Taco Bell menu. It was taken off the menu in 2016. The chain had done a regional test of the Salsa Verde Grilled Chicken Burrito earlier this year.
It’s likely that the chain will add more menu items using the new salsa now that it’s making its return.
Taco Bell’s Last Change in a Busy Year
Taco Bell never lets its menu go stale. It rotated a variety of limited-time offers over the past year including offering chicken wings for a single week and bringing back a number of variations of its Nacho Fries.
Making frequent menu changes is a key part of the chain’s strategy, according to comments from CEO David Gibbs during the company’s second-quarter earnings call.
“Taco Bell remains a cultural leader in the industry, successfully executing on its strategy to inspire and enable the world to live mass through innovative marketing campaigns, buzzworthy brand news, distinctive products, and strong value offering,” he said. “Despite significant inflation, Taco Bell maintained restaurant margins by leveraging its pricing power for premium products and craveable LTOs while still providing consumers with everyday value through a broad range of price points, such as those items featured on the cravings value menu.”
The big hit of the year, of course, was the Mexican Pizza.
“Demand for the Mexican Pizza was seven times previous levels, reaching over 20 million pizzas sold nationwide, with some stores selling out within a week, creating a sustained positive halo for the brand,” Gibbs said.
After selling out of the returning item, Taco Bell brought it back “for good” in the fall.