Taco Bell is debuting a Chalupa that replaces a typical taco shell with fried chicken.
The long-awaited "Naked Chicken Chalupa" will be available at all Taco Bell locations across the US beginning January 26, the Mexican fast-food chain announced on Wednesday.
The new menu item's fried-chicken shell is made with white-meat chicken, which is filled with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, cheddar cheese, and avocado ranch sauce. The Naked Chicken Chalupa will cost $2.99.
Taco Bell began testing variations on the fried chicken chalupa in 2015 with tests in Bakersfield, California and Kansas City, Missouri.
"We were getting feedback like, 'It's so healthy. It's so fresh,'" Kat Garcia, Taco Bell's senior manager of marketing, told BuzzFeed News last May. "That really surprised us because it's fried chicken."
According to early reviews, the chalupa is tasty as well.
"It was a little salty initially since you bite into the fried chicken first but balances out once you hit the filling," Brand Eating wrote in August. "The chicken shell had a substantial crunch as well as a solid kick of spicy heat; much more so than any other current Taco Bell meat option."
The fast-food and fast-casual industry has a fixation with fried chicken. In 2010, KFC debuted the infamous Double Down, a sandwich that replaced a bun with two cutlets of fried chicken.
Shake Shack's Chick'n Shack has quickly become one of the chain's top five best-selling items since its national launch last January, executives said in a presentation at the annual ICR Conference on Tuesday. In 2015, Burger King launched its Chicken Fries and McDonald's reintroduced Chicken Selects.
The Naked Chicken Chalupa could be just the beginning of Taco Bell's entry into the fried chicken market. The chain is currently testing its take on chicken nuggets, called "Crispy Chicken Chips," in Irvine, California.
Taco Bell unveils taco with fried chicken shell
Taco Bell, the fast food radical which has boasted healthy changes to its menu, has unveiled its Naked Chicken Chalupa, a taco in which the shell is made completely of fried chicken.
Did your arteries just pucker?
The new taco will be available nationwide on Jan. 26, just in time for you to give up on your new year's weight loss resolution.
The shell, the company said, is made of 4 ounces of "marinated, all-white-meat, antibiotic-free chicken" with Mexican spices. Inside are shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, cheddar cheese and avocado ranch. It will cost you $2.99 and could be part of a $5 meal deal.
The company said the chalupa enjoyed "buzzworthy" tests in Bakersfield, California and Kansas City, Missouri. Now it's ready for the big time, the company said.
"Something this delicious yet different is bound to ruffle some feathers," said Marisa Thalberg, Taco Bell's chief marketing officer. "We feel confident that once our fans get a taste of the Naked Chicken Chalupa they are going to understand exactly why this is our next big, fun and crave-able innovation."
Taco Bell won't be the first fast food giant to incorporate a fried chicken frame into its food. KFC's Double Down sandwich was a sandwich in which the bun was made out of chicken patties. The company later started serving a hot dog version of the Double Down. Apart from the Naked Chicken Chalupa, Taco Bell has experimented with other unorthodox taco tweaks such as Doritos Locos Tacos — a taco with a shell made out of Doritos — and the Quesalupa, a shell stuffed with pepper jack cheese.
The announcement of the Naked Chicken Chalupa comes on the heels of news Taco Bell has been making some health-wise changes to its food. The chain has made cutbacks on artificial flavors, trans fats and sodium. It also plans to strip its chicken on antibiotics by early this year and eliminate extra large sodas.
Taco Bell to introduce chalupa shell made out of fried chicken
Time to put your body through Bell.
Following two years of testing, Jan. 26 will see the nationwide release of the "naked chicken chalupa" — a new Taco Bell menu option that replaces the item's traditional fried flatbread shell with fried chicken.
The innards feature the classic squadron of lettuce, tomato and shredded cheese as well as an avocado ranch sauce. Retailing for $2.99, the chalupa won't contain any meat since the chalupa is the meat.
The chicken is flavored with "bold Mexican spices."
Not done with its unctuous brand of alchemy, the home of the Crunchwrap Supreme is also developing fried chicken chips — essentially thin chicken nuggets that adhere to the Pythagorean theorem as they stick to your arteries.