This is not a taco. But it’s what it was to me growing up in suburban Massachusetts. The hardshell taco was popularized in the United States in 1951 by Glenn Bell. Yes, that bell. Since then, Taco Bell has continued to introduce bizarre takes on standard menu items. What is this is? A waffle taco? What’s next a pancake and chilada? It’s a slippery slope I tell you. Sure, it’s a little gimmicky. But it might just be marketing genius. Taco Bell has created a way to make the gimmick real and profitable. In 1948, 25 year old Glenn Bell started a food stand in San Bernardino California. Bell’s Hamburgers and Hotdogs, but at the same time the McDonald’s brothers new fast food joint was beginning to claim the burger market. Bell needed to be different. Across the street from his stand was a small, but busy Mexican restaurant, Mitla Cafe. He fell in love with the food especially the light crispy tortillas stuffed with ground beef and lettuce. So much so that he tried to replicate it with a makeshift fryer. His final creation was a much crunchier version of the Mitla Café item. Less messy, easy to eat on the go. Accurate or not, Bell called it a taco which he originally sold for 19 cents. It was a smash hit. So in 1954, he opened a new stand, Taco Tia and over the next decade, he continued to open more. He finally opened his first Taco Bell restaurant in 1962 in Downey California. The hardshell taco or tego as first time customers called it was Bell’s first innovation. Since then the company has released a steady flow of somewhat bizarre menu items. This is the enchirito. While a burrito is typically a flower tortilla filled with beans and enchilada is traditionally a corn tortilla filled with meat and smothered in chili sauce. The enchirito was released in 1967 and was a popular menu item for almost 30 years. Original and unique items like the chili burger proved to be a winning formula for Glen Bell. Taco Bell was bought by Pepsico in 1978. Even with new owners, the strategy remained the same. Produce a menu of traditional items while experimenting with new hybrid foods. The all new naked chicken chips made of crispy fried chicken dipped in a seductive nacho cheese sauce. This innovation based strategy is called Buzz. Each one of these items is designed to create noise. Blackjack taco only 89 cents exclusively at Taco Bell. Other fast food companies chase Buzz with innovative menu items too. In case you haven’t heard Wendy’s has fresh stuff tito’s. All of which you will no longer find on a menu anywhere. A new champions of taste, Mighty Wings from McDonald’s. And sure, Taco Bell had some failures. In producing new seafood salad from Taco Bell. But those aside, a lot of those buzz worthy test runs became menu staples. As a Taco Bell taste Gourriel. So it’s good to go. Genius. So, how did Taco Bell succeed in transforming buzz into billions. In March 2018, Cheddar live had Taco Bell CMO, Marisa Thalberg on the show. That to me speaks to doing things that for sure generate us. But it’s because the idea itself is exciting. It touches people, makes people want to a taco makes the people want to share. It sounds like PR, but I really think she means it. Taco Bell dedicates serious resources into new food items. Their insights lab test 4500 new product ideas every year. 350 to 500 of those ideas end up in consumer tests. Eight to 10 of which end up on the national menu, and the returns are usually immediate. Taco Bell debuted the Doritos Locos Tacos in March of 2012. In just 10 weeks, 100 million were sold. While Taco Bell never came close to being America’s favorite fast food chain, it did have complete control over the Mexican fast food market for a time. But now, other competitors like Chipotle, Moes, and Qdoba have entered the ring. Taco Bell still holds a commanding lead. It overtook Burger King to become the fourth largest U.S. chain with 9.8 billion in sales in 2017. Chipotle had a revenue of 4.5 billion. But that lead is shrinking. So, back to the lab for Taco Bell. Thanks for watching. Please like and subscribe if you like this video, and comment below with brands you’d like to see us feature next on examines.