The Waffle Taco is making its national debut: After over two years of market testing and limited launches, Taco Bell will start selling its new breakfast menu in 6,000 locations across the country on March 27, the company announced Monday. The menu, as you might expect from Taco Bell at this point, is not made up of the usual breakfast fare, but the chain does have a very traditional competitor in its crosshairs as it fights to take a chunk out of the breakfast pie (er, quesadilla): McDonald's, the company that has dominated the fast food breakfast market for years.
"Hey America. Wake Up. Live Mas," Taco Bell's press announcement of the breakfast rollout reads. "Taco Bell is launching the brand's largest, most extensive menu since it first opened its doors more than 50 years ago. Taco Bell Breakfast is classic breakfast tastes (eggs, sausage, bacon and hash browns) with a Taco Bell twist – products uniquely wrapped up and portable for consumers' 'on-the-go' lifestyle."
Items featured on the new menu include the Waffle Taco (eggs, bacon or sausage, and cheese wrapped in a waffle and drizzled with maple syrup), A.M. Crunchwrap (eggs, hash browns, cheese, and bacon or sausage wrapped in a flour tortilla) and Cinnabon Delights (Bite-sized cinnamon buns). Breakfast will be available until 11 a.m., a full half hour later than McDonald's.
"Breakfast is the fastest growing day part in QSR [quick-service restaurants], and after years of the same old thing, we're confident our breakfast will wake up customers' morning routine," Taco Bell chief marketing officer Chris Brandt said in the release. "Taco Bell will bring them a classic breakfast experience, leading with the Waffle Taco and A.M. Crunchwrap, but also offer a menu of breakfast burritos, tacos and value offerings plus a pipeline of new products to continue waking up breakfast options and connecting with our fans."
McDonald's has been a longtime leader in the breakfast market – morning offerings like Egg McMuffins and sausage biscuits account for nearly 20 percent of the company's overall sales, according to The Associated Press. Other chains, including Subway and Starbucks, have been making their own aggressive moves into the breakfast realm in recent years. With its past succcess in luring the young adult market, Taco Bell seems confident it can come out near the top.
"We can turn the breakfast conversation into a two-horse race," Taco Bell president Brian Niccol told AP, saying that Taco Bell aimed to be a "strong No. 2" after McDonald's.
McDonald's for its part, seemed nonplussed. "I think they're going to find that going into the breakfast business is not like what they're accustomed to, in terms of marketing," Kevin Newell, US brand and strategy officer for McDonald's, told AP.