Taco Bell has put to rest the waffle taco, its 2014 Breakfast War contender. But with the syrupy, waffley exit comes a new face to the games: the biscuit taco.
As fast food chains around the country fight for consumers’ morning dollars, the breakfast landscape is evolving in an attempt to stay competitive and fresh, giving consumers more innovative—and sometimes free—options to jump start their days.
Taco Bell announced its new biscuit taco this week, and at the same time notified customers the waffle taco will be phased out of the menu. The new item will feature a “warm, fluffy, buttery biscuit, folded in the shape of a taco,” with filling options including eggs, sausage, cheese, or deep-fried chicken with a jalapeño honey sauce, according to a Taco Bell representative. The sandwich will contain between 370 and 470 calories, depending on its contents.
The biscuit taco will be available starting Thursday, and the fast food chain is already hyping its arrival on Twitter.
Fast food chains began competing in earnest for their customers' morning dollars at the beginning of last year. Traditionally, McDonald’s has been a longtime, unchallenged king when it comes to fast food breakfasts. However, other restaurants are tapping into the market because breakfast-time sales figures are among the few to be on the rise in the fast food market. Slate reported last spring that from 2007 to 2012, U.S. breakfast sales rose by an average of almost 5 percent per year, while sales during lunch and dinner remained largely unchanged.
Last year, Dunkin’ Donuts began tweaking its menu, adding an eggs benedict sandwich with the hopes of appealing to an even wider breakfast crowd than the doughnuts and coffee set. The $3.59 sandwich received mixed reviews. In January, Sonic debuted its $3.99 French Toaster breakfast sandwich, which basically takes your classic egg-sausage-cheese sandwich and replaces the bread with French toast.
And, in addition to its new biscuit taco, Taco Bell is experimenting with smaller breakfast bites. In select California locations, the chain will test Cap’n Crunch Delights, mini-donut holes filled with milk icing and covered in Cap’n Crunch Berries crumbs.
In response to its competition, McDonald’s has been re-branding its breakfast options in its own way. A new market campaign highlights the usage of fresh eggs in their Egg McMuffins, as well as other fresh ingredients.
The breakfast leader has also experimented with serving free coffee, hoping it will be the hook that gets people to buy breakfast in the first place. Last year, the chain offered free coffee nationwide for two weeks. The chain announced in January they will be serving free coffee every Monday in the Washington D.C. area throughout 2015.
"We know that coffee drives the visits at our breakfast time,"then-chief executive Donald Thompson, told The Washington Post in February. The new coffee promotion may be a strategy for McDonald's to reverse a multi-year sales skid, Roberto Ferdman argued in the post at the time.
“Who knows? Maybe free coffee will go from being a regional experiment to a national policy,” he wrote.
Despite the race for breakfast innovation and supremacy, however recent consumer reports show that overall the public has become more dissatisfied with the quality of food at fast food restaurants. Chains have responded by making big changes in hope of changing public perception.
Will the biscuit taco stand the test of time? That's up to Taco Bell's customers, who clearly weren't enamored enough with its waffle-shelled predecessor to keep it on the menu.