Taco Bell has developed a new product and is seriously considering jumping into the fried-chicken-strips game, and will make its decision based in large part on what its customers think of its new offering.
Dayton, Ohio, is one of just two cities in the U.S. chosen by Taco Bell to test-market Crispy Tortilla Chicken, which is being rolled out Thursday, in Dayton and in Houston, according to Nation’s Restaurant News, an industry website and publication.
Jeff Stone, director of Fiesta Holdings, which oversees Taco Bell restaurants in the Dayton area, confirmed that Crispy Tortilla Chicken would be available at all Dayton-area Taco Bells Thursday.
In August, the Popeyes Classic Chicken Sandwich made its debut, and quickly sparked a viral Twitter feud between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A over which chain’s chicken sandwich was superior. In just two weeks, the Popeyes menu item sold out completely and was pulled off the chain’s menu. It was reintroduced three weeks ago.
This is the first time Taco Bell has tested its own fried chicken strips with a dipping sauce, NRN reported. The price will be $1.99 for a soft flour tortilla taco with one chicken strip, and $3.99 for three strips served with the new dipping sauce, NRN reported.
“After testing, the brand hopes to launch the strips nationwide by summer 2020 — a relatively quick turnaround for a chain of nearly 7,000 restaurants,” the NRN.com story said.
The industry publication reported that Taco Bell's food innovation team has been working on perfecting a fried chicken recipe for eight to nine month, and tested about 100 versions before deciding on a recipe that fits Taco Bell’s playful Mexican-inspired flavor profiles.
“The all-white meat chicken is marinated in tangy jalapeno buttermilk and then rolled in a blend of panko bread crumbs and crushed white tortilla chips,” NRN reported. “The chip-flavored coating combined with the buttermilk brine and the new Creamy Chilli Pepper dipping sauce creates the Taco Bell twist that the test kitchen strives for ... .”
Taco Bell has tested chicken before, NRN reported. Its restaurants featured a red chili-flavored strip in 2015, but it did not come with a dipping sauce. The Naked Chicken Chalupa, which features a taco shell made of fried chicken, has been an on-again, off-again menu item since early 2017, the industry publication reported.